Are Cloud Hosted Desktops More Secure Than On-Premise Systems?

cloud-hosted-desktops-security-IBIS-TechnologySome businesses still aren't convinced that cloud-hosted desktops are a more secure option than on-premise IT systems. In this post, we’ll look at 4 reasons to sway even the toughest cloud critics.

The other day I was talking to a business owner about the difference between cloud-hosted desktops and traditional IT systems. Naturally, the question about security and privacy issues quickly came up. Like most who are not as familiar with the cloud, he believed storing his company’s mission-critical data in the cloud is less secure than the on-premise servers in his office.

While there is much debate on this topic, here’s what I have found over the past several years. Fears about cloud computing are often due to a lack of understanding about the cloud. One of the objections I hear most often is that storing data on servers and systems you don’t own or control “feels insecure.”

However, control is not synonymous with security.

Simply put, a cloud-hosted virtual desktop moves your current environment (that conveniently sits behind a locked door in your office) into a virtual machine safely stored in the cloud.

The truth is your data is more secure in the cloud, and here are 4 reasons why:

1.) Control does not equate to security – it’s controlled access that counts

As we've analyzed the data breaches over the last several years, we have found that the physical location of your data doesn’t matter. Most of the incidences that occurred were caused by vulnerabilities in the system, regardless of whether it was in the cloud or on-premise. The key point is that controlling access is much more important than the location of the data.

When your data is stored in the secure network infrastructure of the cloud, you are physically separating your company’s data from employees, partners, and visitors. This makes it more difficult for people to access sensitive information or use it in the wrong way, decreasing the amount of human risk.

In the cloud, administrators and employees have access-permission controls that keep your data safe, and stored files can be accessed from anywhere via an Internet connection (no longer housed on your employees’ personal desktops).

Another reason why the cloud is more secure is because those of us who build cloud platforms for businesses place much more emphasis on security and governance than those who house their own systems inside firewalls. The best advice is to focus on a well-defined and executed security strategy with the right cloud IT services provider.

The cloud IT services provider is responsible for securing their own network, and ensuring the physical security of its facilities and the security services they provide their clients. This includes:

  • Data encryption
  • Identity management systems for access controls
  • Hardened machine images
  • Proactive remote monitoring, backup, and anti-virus management
  • Routine vulnerability scans, software and security updates

Only the highest level administrator of the cloud service provider can access encrypted data. If the provider is hacked or required to provide data for legal reasons, only encrypted data is released.

2.) Data centers with strong perimeters and surveillance

Traditional IT system security for servers, workstations, and terminals can be difficult for businesses to implement and manage on their own. Many lack the expertise and resources to handle it internally. In most businesses, a locked door is the only defense to prevent intruders from accessing important data, files and IT equipment. Importantly, preventing access to your on-site computers is not sufficient to block hackers.

With the cloud IT service provider’s data centers, you gain multi-layered security protection, including safety measures such as concrete barriers, high fences, barbed wire, and security cameras protecting the data and the surrounding area. These physical barriers prevent individuals from infiltrating the data center – providing you with peace of mind.

3.) Frequent auditing and security compliance

Another benefit of utilizing a cloud IT service provider is their required yearly audits to protect against flaws in their security systems. On-premise systems do not have this requirement. For example, if you have an on-premise system for five years, it may get audited once (if at all) – leaving gaps in your security and rendering your data vulnerable.

Additionally, old legacy systems are more difficult and time-intensive to keep updated because businesses must check each platform individually to update security systems. For these reasons, it’s more likely that these on-premise systems fall behind, especially as you grow as a company.

4.) Cybersecurity expertise

Cloud security is tight, and cloud IT service providers specialize in keeping data safe. They offer better security and support than companies can do on their own. The cloud infrastructure is proactively monitored around the clock to detect and avoid any potential security threats, and vulnerability testing – which is an absolute necessity – is performed regularly.  

In the unfortunate event you do experience a Ransomware attack or other virus, it doesn’t take long to recover your data with the cloud. The provider simply brings up a new gateway to retrieve your backup data, and you’re up and running in no time. This means less downtime. If the same incident were to attack your on-premise systems, it could take days or even weeks to be fully restored (or longer, even if your backup is working properly).

With a cloud IT services provider, you don’t have to worry about any of this. You not only get access to the best data centers, but also to a team of highly skilled and dedicated IT experts who work on behalf of your company 24x7x365 (even at 3 am).

Cloud IT services proves its value

Even with these best practices in place, many businesses still worry that the cloud isn’t secure. The question I hear the most is: “Can the cloud provider improve security over my current on-premise system?” The resounding answer is, Yes!

Cloud IT services providers make huge investments in security experts, technologies, and procedures. Working with a cloud IT services provider frees you and your IT resources to focus on your running your business, not administering IT security.

More business owners are starting to think differently about cloud security as we deploy more cloud-hosted desktops and infrastructures. If you choose not to take advantage of these benefits while your competitors do, you may put your company at a competitive disadvantage. But with the right amount of planning and an experienced cloud technology partner at your side, you can work smarter and grow your business. (For more detailed information, read: 7 Reasons Why You Should Move from On-Premise to Cloud Computing).

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