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technology and security

Cloud Security: Is My Data Safe In The Cloud?

The accounting industry’s interest in cloud services — from online bookkeeping to full-featured accounting software — shows no signs of slowing down. According to Businesswire, the global spending by businesses on cloud computing infrastructure is forecasted to reach $1 trillion in 2024. 

Millions of businesses use applications such as QuickBooks Online for their accounting, and Google Docs, Gmail, Microsoft, and Apple’s iCloud every day for their business operations. These services rely on the cloud to make sure you can access your financial information, documents, emails, to-do lists, and more from your internet-connected device. 

The convenience of the cloud is often measured against security, privacy, and reliability. In this article, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the cloud so you can determine the safest cloud solution for your business.

You’ll learn:

Where is my data stored in the cloud?

You might picture cloud data floating somewhere in the atmosphere waiting for an app or platform to call it into use. The reality is less entertaining but much more secure. 

The cloud is a collection of securely networked physical servers where customers upload and store data that can be accessed from anywhere. These data storage servers are lined up in large rooms or warehouses, connected to you via the internet. Vendors often spread their servers across state lines, and in some cases, continents, so data does not reside in a single place.

For example, QuickBooks Online accounting software is based in the cloud. All of your financial statements, accounting reports, invoices, inventory, business expenses and transactions are stored in the cloud and can be accessed via your smartphone, tablet or laptop in real-time from any location.

How is my data protected in the cloud?

Cloud vendors such as QuickBooks employ several data security techniques to keep your data safe. Let’s explore the cloud security techniques that keep your data secure.

Physical security of cloud servers

Copies of all your data files are typically stored in more than one geographic location so customers can maintain reliable access in the event of a fire, flood, or natural disaster that impacts a building full of servers. Cloud security protects physical devices created to house information while keeping it accessible at a moment’s notice.

Compliance with data security regulations

Organizations entrusted with their customers’ sensitive financial information have no margin for error and are required by law to protect data as fiercely as the banking industry.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), for example, created a set of international service organization-reporting standards known as SSAE 16 and ISAE 3402 to protect data in the cloud.

When choosing a cloud accounting software for your business, ensure your provider employs data security safeguards to keep your data stored securely in the cloud. 

Encryption technology

Cloud accounting data is at its most vulnerable when moving between storage servers and your computer or application. Cloud storage providers encrypt the data while it’s traveling back and forth by encoding it in ways that make it unreadable unless the recipient system has the key that unlocks the code. Most modern cloud-based platforms have decryption features built right into the platform.

Password-protected log-ins

Access to cloud-based accounts is secured through password-protected logins to prevent unauthorized access to your information.

Automatic data backup

Cloud security ensures automatic data backup so you don’t have to worry about storing physical copies of your data or unexpected loss of data as a result of natural disasters or theft. Your data is instantly accessible from your internet-connected device.

Activity logs

Many cloud software applications offer activity logs and revision history to keep track of activities and changes made to your data. This means you can trace back to any errors and uncover potentially harmful activity to maintain data integrity.

Learn more about how QuickBooks cloud accounting software uses security safeguards to keep your data safe in the cloud.

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What can I do to keep my cloud data safe?

Cloud service vendors go to great lengths to keep data safe but you have an important role in the process, too. According to TechReport, in 2022, 31% of all data breaches were caused by insider threats. This can be due to malicious activity but usually consists of events where sensitive information goes to the wrong people.

Consider implementing the following data security strategies in your business to ensure your staff follows the best practices to keep your data safe in the cloud:

  • Regular password changes: Consider implementing a policy that requires users to change their password at regular intervals and employing platform tools that automatically log workers out of your system when not in use.
  • Multi-factor authentication: This is a proven method of protecting customer data that requires users to verify their identity in more than one way to prevent unauthorized system access. It’s often as simple as setting the system to automatically trigger a verification email or text when they attempt to log in.
  • Permission Levels: Employ restrictive user permission levels for the platforms you use, including your cloud accounting software.
  • Encryption: Ensure platforms you use in your business have SSL encryption technology.
  • Regular backups: Ensure you sync to a cloud-based server to backup your documents and data.
  • Monitoring tools: Using activity and online activity monitoring tools can show you who’s accessing your system and what they’re doing once they get there. Vigilant monitoring will help quickly identify and troubleshoot security issues when they arise.
  • Anti-malware tools: For an extra coat of armor against unauthorized intrusion, consider anti-malware tools. Many cloud-based platforms already include these features and they are also available for purchase from companies that specialize in data security.
  • Ask questions of your cloud service provider: Don’t hesitate to dig into information regarding security audits and regulations, off-site backups, physical security practices, and two-factor authentication.

Is cloud storage reliable?

The reliability of cloud storage is a concern for accounting firms and small businesses alike, particularly when considering moving their sensitive financial data to the cloud and switching to accounting software. It’s one of the cloud’s biggest selling points in a crowded industry where reputation means everything. 

QuickBooks security features such as SSL encryption, automatic data backup, always-on activity logs, and audit trails make it a reliable cloud accounting software solution for small businesses and accounting firms.

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Moving to the cloud

If you think moving your business or clients' accounting to the cloud, consider QuickBooks Online. As the leader in cloud accounting software, QuickBooks provides proactive industry-recognized privacy and security features like Audit Trail, Always-On, and Activity Log. Multi-level permissions house data safely while keeping unauthorized users out. 

Intuit goes the extra mile to secure its data centers with around-the-clock security personnel, 24/7 video surveillance, and backup generators that keep your data accessible during power outages.

Join QuickBooks Online today or sign up for a free 30-day trial and see how the cloud can transform your accounting.

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