Important Things to Keep in Mind About Cloud Accounting Security
Accounting is one of those age-old occupations, steeped in tradition. The essentials of maintaining numbers related to a company’s financial activity or that of a private client haven’t changed much. Business types change, financial instruments change, but the essentials of profit and loss remain the same.
What has changed is the ability of accounting firms to do business at an unprecedented scale, and the ability of individual companies to streamline their accounting operations, by using digital technology—particularly that mysterious thing known as “the cloud.”
Let’s get the cloud mystery out of the way
The cloud isn’t a high-tech field of data-storing energy in the sky; it isn’t a satellite in orbit around planet Earth. The cloud is a system of high-density computer servers, scattered among several locations, that preserve large amounts of information and protect it by bouncing it from place to place; the goal is to make sure sensitive data is always available to its owner while never staying in one place long enough to fall prey to hackers.
There’s not only one cloud. Any company that can afford the servers, internet lines, and the space to store and operate it all can essentially set up a cloud. Unfortunately, that means varying quality among cloud providers.
Which brings us to the subject of cloud accounting security.
Feeling safe and sound in the cloud
Another traditional thing about accounting firms and departments is a strong fondness for keeping private business private. Even in this world of information being pulled from the ether, accountants still need to do the cloud accounting security equivalent of locking “the books” in a secure safe overnight.
Expanding geographic boundaries are making it more difficult to store an organization’s data on local servers. Increasing numbers of businesses are putting their trust in the cloud to keep their growing client base safe.
All it takes is hardware, space, and internet connectivity to build a cloud, but building security into that cloud is a whole other subject. Cloud accounting security issues are real and a reputable provider needs to be able to explain how their system prevents them. There are important security-related questions accountants need to ask before entrusting client data to a cloud provider.
Where is my data going?
Find out where a cloud service provider’s servers are located. There should be several locations, not concentrated on a narrow perimeter. Think of each server as a backup safe. You wouldn’t store a copy of your company’s books in a backup safe positioned right next to your primary safe, right? The same goes for cloud servers. By putting significant distance between them, you can keep hackers confused in their efforts to trace and capture data.
How is my data getting where it’s going?
Get details on the software that will be transferring your data to the cloud. Your provider should be able to provide empirical evidence that their data entry and retrieval systems are secure.
Is my data going to be encrypted?
The answer to this one had better be a fast and energetic, “Yes.” Data needs to be encrypted while it’s traveling from your offices to the cloud, every minute it spends in the cloud, and all the way back to you when you need to access it. And it had best be encrypted with state-of-the-art encryption tools that will puzzle even the most up-to-date hacker.
How safe is my data from breaches?
Encryption is great but even better is creating a system so that a hacker can’t access it in the first place. Don’t work with a cloud provider who cannot give you certifications and or assessments from reputable firms that assess the safety of such systems. Also make sure they have a consistent process of testing just how strong their hacker protection is, along with a system that keeps a 24/7 eye out for any unauthorized activity happening within their cloud.
How safe is my data from YOU, the cloud services provider?
Keeping your data safe from prying eyes is just one side of the cloud security coin. On the other side are the protocols involved in recovering data in the event of equipment failure or the erasure of files. You need to know that your provider has a fast way to access a backup of your data should files become corrupted or should hardware crash.
How can I securely access my data?
The interface through which you access the data stored with your cloud service provider should be user-friendly and created using the latest in proven technology for maintaining your privacy and security online while working with your information.
Explore the possibilities of cloud accounting security
All of this is a lot to think about, but thinking about it is very worthwhile. And by working with the right people and tools, you can turn cloud accounting security issues from a worry that keeps you up at night to a concern that you have well in hand.
The cloud can seem like a mystery and can also be intimidating, but with the right provider and the right software tools, the cloud is an incredibly safe addition to your accounting best practices.