Cloud Storage vs Local Storage Security: Comparing the Pros and Cons

Cloud storage vs local storage security: this article discusses the pros and cons of cloud and local storage options for the security of your stored data.

Why Should You Care About Cloud Storage vs Local Storage Security?

Cloud computing is becoming more popular as a business solution, especially with more people working from home. Storing data in the cloud — with a third-party provider — means it is always accessible and can be accessed from anywhere. Locally stored data can only be accessed from the device or network on which it is stored, and when that device or network is running.

When deciding which type of storage to use in your business, you should also consider the security threats and risks associated with each. This will help you to make the best decision on which type of data storage is best for you.

The security pros of cloud storage

Apart from ease of use and accessibility, when using cloud computing you won’t need to worry about data loss caused by physical damage to your hardware or networks. Cloud services provide multiple redundancies to make certain you always have access to your data. They also embed several other security features to secure your data.

Here are eight security advantages of cloud storage:

  • Data encryption

Cloud storage services can provide encryption at rest to your data. You should always send data encrypted in transit, but by giving the cloud service access to the data, it can then apply its encryption to protect it at rest.

  • Access control

While users can access the cloud from anywhere, your business can manage this accessibility from a single platform. This makes it easier to monitor and manage access permissions, and software updates are applied automatically to your access control.

  • File recovery in case of hardware damage

Because your files are easily accessible, providing you have an internet connection, they will always be available. If your hardware is damaged, your data is safe and accessible — meaning minimized downtime for your business.

  • Consistent security updates

Security software is constantly updated to combat new and evolving security threats. A disjointed local network can be challenging to maintain, especially if the same security updates must be applied separately to each device. When using cloud computing, these security updates are applied consistently to your entire data storage.

  • AI tools and auto-patching

Cloud computing services use AI (artificial intelligence) to help secure and protect data on their servers. These perform monitoring and security analytics in real-time, alerting system administrators to potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities and enabling auto-patching to maintain data security.

  • Built-in firewalls

Cloud services employ firewalls that apply security rules to all traffic in their network. These block suspicious activity, making it more difficult for hackers to infiltrate the system or upload malware or viruses, providing a high level of security to data stored behind the firewall.

  • Redundancy (ultra-backed-up data)

Redundancy helps to protect your data from being lost in several scenarios, including hardware damage caused by power outages or natural disasters. Cloud services regularly back up your data to different servers.

  • Third-party security testing

Third-party security specialists are often hired to test security by cloud service providers. This helps to ensure the service is secured against cyberattacks.

The security cons of cloud storage

While cloud storage provides convenience and accessibility to your data, it also comes with risks. These include:

  • Risk of attack by cybercriminals

Cloud-based services are more likely to be attacked by cybercriminals. For example, the 2020 Cloud Adoption and Risk Report from McAfee shows that cloud-based cyberattacks by cybercriminals increased by 630% globally in the first quarter of 2020.

  • Limited visibility into network operations

When you store data locally, you have full visibility of all security operations. This is not the case when using cloud services. Your only visibility is scheduled monitoring of storage devices and servers. The responsibility for operations and services within the cloud services is transferred to the service provider.

  • Data loss is still a risk

While cloud storage services regularly back up your data, they remain vulnerable to cyberattacks and natural disasters. Loss of data in the cloud may be rare, but it is still possible.

  • Compliance issues

Your business will have unique regulatory requirements, depending upon the industry, countries, and states in which it operates. These regulations continually evolve, too. You’ll need to ensure that the cloud service you use incorporates current regulations and updates its processes and systems in line with new and revised compliance requirements that are applicable to your business.

  • Insecure Integration and APIs

Synchronizing data and automating workflows with the cloud requires API (application program interfaces) to be implemented. Should these fall below industry standards, it can lead to inadequate access control and data encryption, and an increase in vulnerabilities.

The security pros of local storage

Local storage is a more secure way of storing data because it doesn’t rely on the internet. Data breaches are not as likely to happen when data is stored locally, because the hacker needs physical access to the device to steal your information. In short, you retain complete control of your data, including:

  • How data is stored

What is most convenient for you — hard drives, USBs, external hard drives, network servers, etc.?

  • Who has access to it?

You can limit access by user, by device, and even by physical location (by keeping offices locked, for example)

  • Information security protocols

You have complete control over every aspect of data security, including access, security policies and processes, and regulatory and compliance issues.

  • It helps with compliance measures for certain frameworks

Local storage can be used for compliance measures for certain frameworks like PCI or GDPR. It can also be useful when data needs to be shared between different entities that require strict security measures.

The security cons of local storage

There are many security concerns surrounding locally stored data. For example, if your device is lost or stolen, so is your data. You will also need to ensure that you maintain strict protocols for how people work with data. However, the two biggest drawbacks of local storage are:

  • Physical servers are more susceptible to external damage

Physical servers and devices in an office or home setting are more prone to damage. This may be caused by fire or flood, or a spilled drink. Power outages or power surges can also destroy data stored on your devices.

  • Risk of unwanted internal access

If your data isn’t protected with access controls, firewalls, and encryption, it is at risk, especially from internal access. Whether by accident or malicious intent, the number one source of data protection risks is insider or employee data breaches. 

To mitigate these disadvantages, you should apply strict security protocols, ensuring that your employees understand their responsibilities to keep data secure. 

You should also perform regular data backups, and use uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) to protect against power surges. To prevent loss of data because of natural disasters or other unforeseen circumstances, backups should be kept in a separate location if possible.

Cloud storage vs local storage security: Which is best for your business?

There are many business and data security benefits of cloud storage. It is a convenient way to store data and access it from anywhere. However, there are some security concerns that need to be considered before moving all your information to the cloud.

If you’re worried about who can access your data and how it’s stored, then you should consider using local storage for sensitive information. Local storage makes it easier to protect your company’s sensitive information and ensures that only authorized people have access to it. However, local storage also has inherent downsides and can be more time-consuming and costly to manage.

You’ll also need to consider the type and amount of data you use, how your workforce operates, as well as regulatory issues applicable to your business and its employees.

In our experience, the choice of cloud or data storage is not straightforward. You’ll need to analyze your requirements, costs, and compliance concerns, and ensure that the data storage method you use is the best for your unique and specific circumstances and needs.

To benefit from our expertise and experience in helping clients select and implement effective data security solutions, contact Millennium Tech today.

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