Three weeks ago, the US and Chinese governments agreed to stop spying on each other. The agreement followed years of hack attacks on both sides, not just on government targets but on private companies, too.
The behaviour was wrecking deals and wrecking reputations, and had escalated to the point that criminal charges were brought against five members of the Chinese military by the US last year. Now, the two countries had decided that enough was enough: it was time to call a truce.
Did it work? Did it heck.In the past few weeks, CrowdStrike Inc, which makes software that seeks to identify when cybercriminals are trying to breach a company’s IT system, says that seven of its clients – all large-scale private companies – have staved off hackers believed to be connected to the Chinese government, all fishing for corporate secrets.
…And that’s just the ones that were caught
But how, you might reasonably ask, are hackers breaking in to companies with such huge IT security teams? And what’s stopping them from getting into my company?
In the past, cybercriminals had to find ways to get their malware and viruses into user computers, usually through infected emails and the like. But a decent security system can pick these things up, and so, these days, they’re much craftier.
Ultimately, what a savvy hacker needs to get into your system is a vulnerable internet connection, and now that everything from our printers to our toasters are “smart” devices – i.e. connected via WiFi – there are plenty of weak spots to choose from.
But when it comes to technologies connected to the net (known as the Internet of Things), there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle.
Instead, you need to think about adopting security measures that are holistic and complete, with no gaps to wriggle through. You need to tuck your entire business safely behind layers of encryptions, with enhanced security measures such as multifactor authentication. You need to bundle up your whole desktop – your files, folders, programs, apps, emails, everything – and protect it all in a coherent, manageable, comprehensive manner, rather than a piecemeal approach that leaves plenty of gaps for cybercriminals.
Moving to the cloud is one, very powerful, way to do that.
Many people fear the idea of putting their data in the cloud because this seems counter-intuitive: won’t moving stuff to the internet make it more vulnerable? But the answer is, in fact, an emphatic no. With the right partner, you’ll be much, much safer.
Your data is vulnerable if you have any passageways to the internet that hackers can sneak in by, and unless you want to move your business to a cave and cut off communication with your clients, that’s not going to change. The different between the way you’re doing things now and the way a cloud provider will protect your data is that, while you are trying to monitor all of these inroads separately, they’re cutting them all off at once.
Think of it like this. Which would make it harder to enter a secure zone: solitary checkpoints on the main roads, manned by one guy with a gun, or a 100ft metal wall spanning the entire area, which you can only enter by scanning a keycard at fortified doors and entering a PIN?
That’s the kind of difference we’re talking about. The difference between a club bouncer and Fort Knox.
Plus, moving your desktop onto a secure, cloud-hosted platform adds a plethora of other business benefits. You can access everything you need remotely, from any device, while still enjoying the same level of security. You can be more productive. You can respond faster to clients while you’re on the move. You can collaborate easily with colleagues.
The alternative? Trying to fortify your humble work computer, chaining yourself to your desk, hamstringing yourself from efficient working practices and setting rules so limiting that you will, ultimately, end up breaking them – an email forwarded to a private account for reference in a meeting, a document saved onto a less-secure USB stick so you can work on it at home. Eventually, the cracks will form, and you’ll find yourself in the danger zone.
Much, much better to choose a solution that offers you the security you need, while also making things more convenient, more accessible and, ultimately, more profitable too.
From where we’re standing, it’s a no-brainer.