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The Challenges of Minimizing Data Security Risks

Software as a service (SaaS) is more and more becoming interesting to small and medium-sized businesses as a great solution to their IT needs. It’s not only about the lower costs. SaaS concept provides end-users with quicker and easily accessible updates and access to software that they probably wouldn’t use due to high licensing costs. The whole thing is also scalable to end-user’s specific needs.

However, SaaS and cloud data storage are both still young technologies and, as every young technology, they both carry certain security risks.

Since SaaS and cloud computing are gaining such popularity, much has been written about them in the recent years, so it’s understandable if you feel overwhelmed and want to be cautious. There are three major issues to think about with SaaS:

Data security – We live in an unsafe, profit-driven world, where everyone is trying to score big in no time at all. Hacking and industrial espionage aren’t a rare occurrence and do present a serious threat to your business. However using on-premise software doesn’t mean that you are safe from data intrusions.

Software availability – Being able to work at any time you want (or need) is a must for any small or medium business. With SaaS and cloud computing, difficulties due to some outside issues like internet outage are possible.

Business dealings of your cloud provider – Though relying on someone else to keep your IT issues in order, leaving you free to focus on the actual work does sound great, it comes with a small problem – you’re actually relying on someone else. You have no way of controlling how your service provider is doing business-wise, and there is a potential that things end up badly for them.

How to deal with the risks?

Firstly, don’t be frightened by the risks of using SaaS. When reading about the risks, they tend to sound terrifying. However, if you’re being smart about your cloud usage and take the necessary precautions, the chances of your business suffering serious blows are minuscule.

Also, using an on-premise software doesn’t mean that you’ll be perfectly protected and that there aren’t any risks. It may actually be even harder to deal with harmful situations because you’ll be on your own, so it can be argued that SaaS is at least as safe as using on-premise software.

There is also a competition among SaaS providers that keeps them constantly improving their technology and service. The right SaaS provider will go out of their way to accommodate you and to reassure you that they got things covered.

With that in mind, the first step you have to take is to inform yourself about the provider’s security plan. This is also a great way of filtering out the bad SaaS providers and finding the right fit for you. Ask about their disaster plans and recovery methods. Have they done a risk analysis and do they have a developed protocol that they follow in the worst case scenario?

You will need to be able to access your data and continue with your work regardless of issues the provider might have. Software escrow will help you with that. With software escrow, you will be independent and you won’t lose any time waiting for the service problems to be fixed.

When arranging a software escrow solution, make sure you’re well protected. Familiarize yourself with the terms and don’t skip the fine print.

Make sure that any software or data that is critical for the continuation of your work is escrowed. If any customizations to the software are done specifically for your business, make sure that those are covered as well, not just the original software version. This also goes for any software updates.

If your service provider goes under, things get a little bit more complicated. You will have to organize the necessary infrastructure in a timely matter. The other option is to find a substitute SaaS option.

A good software escrow agreement will also provide you with a way to make this as fast as possible. Ideally, within the next 24 hours you should be able to continue with your work.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, nothing related to business is perfectly safe. Unpredicted situations happen and we don’t have the power to avoid them. Yet we do have the power to predict them and minimize their influence.

Your strongest ally in the fight against data security risks will be information. If you are informed and aware of what might happen, things won’t catch you off guard. A good SaaS partner is crucial, so rather than trying to figure things out on your own, spend some time finding the right fit for you.

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