Jo Gibson explains why cloud systems should be embraced by businesses of all sizes.

Recent high-profile security breaches at companies across the world has put cyber-security policies and procedures under the microscope.

It’s understandable that many businesses are becoming increasingly concerned about how they can protect customers’ data to the highest levels possible. Indeed, this is even more of a concern when a business has access to customers’ financial data.

For businesses that make regular or take regular payments, using cloud-based, automated payment methods can offer comprehensive security protections that are superior to using paper-based methods or in-house software.

However, recent research by cloud specialist Zero2Ten has revealed that, 60 per cent of people cited concerns about data security as a barrier to adoption of cloud-based payment services. Clearly, businesses are missing out on the significant benefits of the cloud because of security concerns.

Round-the-cloud security

Cloud-based payments solutions come with a range of built-in security measures to protect not only against cyber-attacks, but also natural disasters and even human error.

All customer data can be hosted in specialist off-site data centres that provide the highest quality environment possible for data storage, meeting the challenges of big data, remote offices and short backup windows. Data can even be split between multiple data centres, giving an added layer of resilience against any potential issues. As well as cast iron protections against hacking, off-site data storage ensures that incidents like burglary, power failure or flooding at a company headquarters or other offices have minimal impact on service delivery.

Robust disaster recovery for in-house software is expensive. The majority of businesses lack the required cash and expertise to make genuine disaster recovery a reality when they’re using in-house software. But the cloud offers the reality of secure disaster recovery for even the smallest of businesses. In the unlikely event of a disaster of any kind, data needs to be accessed instantaneously to alleviate the problem as quickly as possible. The cloud supports this by allowing sensitive information to be available on demand wherever and whenever, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This allows businesses to recover systems and data within minutes of an incident, minimising any loss of revenue or customer confidence.

Using the cloud also means customer’s sensitive data can be easily encrypted and remotely wiped, if required. In the unfortunate event a laptop or computer falls into the wrong hands, data can be accessed and removed remotely, meaning it will be inaccessible. This is not something that is possible with the majority of in-house software solutions.

Cloud solutions also prevent fraud, removing the risk of data tampering or unauthorised user access. It might come as a surprise that most instances of fraud committed against businesses are carried out by their own employees. In its 2014 ‘Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse’, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found the median duration of employee frauds was 18 months before detection. With a cloud-based payment solution, employees can be provided with unique log in credentials with multi-level permissions. Additionally, using the cloud means businesses can easily capture a full audit trail of all user activity, instantly showing which employees have accessed information, when, and for how long. This allows employers to monitor employee activity and quickly spot any unusual behaviour in a way that is impossible with in-house or paper-based payments systems.

So, the cloud has the potential to offer significant security benefits that aren’t fully (or in many cases even partially) appreciated by businesses and their customers.

Making the right choice is key

A survey by banking software company, Temenos, revealed that the highest scoring benefit sought from the cloud is a desire to reduce overall IT costs, with 58% of people saying this is the reason they’re considering using the cloud for processing payments.

Managing cash flow can be a complex process requiring close control and a lot of time consuming administration. As well as offering a highly secure service, the cloud is also a cost-effective solution to reduce time spent on processing payments. Automated payments using cloud systems can save businesses time and money compared to manually invoicing suppliers and customers or using cumbersome standing orders – there’s no need to chase late or missed payments, which can be costly. Many cloud payment systems have the added benefit that they take only a matter of days to set up and allows for lower and more predictable costs by eliminating the need for in-house software and infrastructure; negating the expensive upfront costs of software installation and removing the need to pay for on-going upgrades.

As long as businesses use a reputable and trustworthy cloud payments provider, the cloud is actually one of the most secure methods of hosting and handling financial data and transactions.

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