Is it safer to store customer data on premises or in the cloud?

Is it safer to store customer data on premises or in the cloud?

Every business in Canada and the world over generates, manages, and stores customer data that must be protected according to consumer privacy regulations set by different governing bodies. These data include identifying information such as names, birthdates, and addresses, as well as behaviour-related data, like items customers viewed, added to their cart, and purchased.

These data are valuable, and if you’re running a business, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make early on is whether to store them on premises or in the cloud. Each option has unique security pros and cons, but which one can better protect your data?

Storing customer data on on-site servers

The biggest advantage of storing data on premises is that you have greater control over your files. You know where exactly your data is kept, and you can implement your own protective measures to prevent physical data theft. But with full control comes substantial costs. You will need to invest in infrastructure, hardware, and human effort. You’ll have to procure servers, security cages, and the services of a dedicated team to watch over your data. Storing data and backups on site also requires space, which translates to additional expenses.

If your staff works in the office, then the investment might be worth it. On-site data storage means an internet connection is not necessary to access files within your system, thus preventing any third party from accessing your information, which minimizes threats to data security. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing most businesses to implement some form of remote work arrangement, keeping data on site might be prohibitive. This is not to say that on-site data can’t be accessed remotely. It can be accessed with an internet connection, but this also means opening up your internal storage to third-party access and defeating one of the biggest reasons for keeping data in-house.

Before deciding to store data on site, you also have to ask yourself whether your files will be safe within your premises in case of floods, fires, or earthquakes. If your workplace is in an area prone to natural disasters, it may not be a good idea to keep your data in house.

The bottom line: Storing data on site offers total control over your physical servers and keeps your data inaccessible to third parties. If you have sufficient resources and procedural knowledge on how to keep data on your premises, and if this setup meets your business needs, this option is the ideal choice.

Storing customer data in the cloud

When you store data in the cloud, you are actually storing information in multiple, geo-independent data centers worldwide. Copies of your files are distributed to several data centers, with redundancy implemented throughout the system to ensure that every copy is current. If one data center is compromised, you can still access information that's stored in other locations, ensuring business continuity in case of cyberattacks or natural disasters.

Related reading: Does my small business need a private cloud?

The cloud also offers a balance between security and accessibility, which is critical in implementing a secure remote work setup. What’s more, the shared responsibility model also gives your data multiple layers of protection. In this arrangement, cloud providers apply cybersecurity measures of their own, as they are legally required to do so. This includes storing data in centers with state-of-the-art perimeter security that makes theft impossible. On top of this, you can deploy your own security measures to protect the domains that are under your control.

This multilayered protection is critical because the cloud is under more numerous and sophisticated threats than on-site servers. The cloud is also connected to the internet and is thus vulnerable to cyberthreats like malware injections, denial-of-service attacks, and advanced persistent threats, among others.

Cloud misconfigurations can also lead to data breaches. For instance, insufficient identity, credential, and access management and unrestricted outbound/inbound access can be exploited by hackers, allowing them to infiltrate and take over your systems.

There’s also the issue of third-party access: third-party cloud vendors such as email service providers and customer relationship management providers may have access to your sensitive information. In fact, while 82% of companies provide third-party vendors with highly privileged roles, a staggering 90% of cloud security teams are not aware that they’ve given vendors such high permissions.

The bottom line: The cloud guarantees business continuity and more secure remote access, but it’s also a prime target of cyberattacks. By partnering with cloud experts like XBASE, you can get a properly configured cloud that allows you to enjoy the technology’s full benefits without worry.

The best storage option for your customer data is one that matches your business needs — and the current business landscape that relies heavily on remote access points to the cloud as a safer and more efficient option. Learn how you can reap all the advantages of the cloud with XBASE Technologies. Drop us a line today.