Data security remains the biggest hurdle for cloud technology. A number of high-profile cases have shown the drastic consequences of data leakage and loss, with banks and online retailers like Amazon falling victim in recent years. Worse still, it’s normally their millions of customers who experience data loss or worse still the data ending up in the wrong hands.

Cloud computing is a giant leap towards the future of business technology, but it comes with its own unique security risks. This is what makes business owners nervous about cloud solutions, but like all tools they simply need to be used appropriately. Much like a welding tool can be fatally dangerous without the right training, cloud computing can be used to build incredible things when used correctly. Here are six key steps every business needs to take when it comes to cloud-hosted software.

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#1: Set your boundaries

Within your organization you will have a variety of users that need access to different information. More importantly, you will have users that donothave access to certain information and should never get it. The account settings for interns and junior staff will not be the same as team leaders and management. Sales people need access to customer care while accounts and HR departments need access to your employee data.

Stage one of secure cloud computing is setting up your team with individual accounts and restricted access to information they have no business in accessing.

#2: Risk assess your assets

Not all databases are of equal importance and you need to determine which ones are most valuable or at most risk. Highly sensitive data referring to your organization or to your clients will be top of the list and you should provide extra protection and encryption. Access to these databases should be strictly limited to those that need it and there should be measures in place for backups and data transfers.

#3: Divide corporate from personal

Mobile and BYOD devices are a growing trend in the cloud operated environment. They bring a number of other benefits to the collaborative workplace, but once again you’re looking at a new set of security issues. Corporate data needs to be isolated from personal data and a patch management system will ensure a device always runs the latest software and fix certain vulnerabilities.

#4: Don’t forget about emails

There is nothing new about the humble email, but this tried and tested communication tool is as vulnerable as any cloud system, unless you provide adequate protection. A secure email security system like Mimecast Email Security will protect your business and employee accounts from malware attacks, spam and data leakage. Advanced systems like these are “always-on” so your employees can sit back and let the software take care of security for them.

#5: Protect your network

Like all networks, any that relies on cloud solutions need protection and those that handle sensitive data need extra security. Network monitoring and protection devices provide you with extra control and analytics to protect your data and track which users are accessing specific content and applications.

#6: Train your staff

With all the right security steps in place, you now need to train your staff how to use cloud technology the right way. Much like access to certain data, parts of your team will need different training to others, but everyone must be aware of the potential threats and how to avoid them.