Long gone are the days when all you needed was a good safe and perhaps some security personnel to keep your business data secure. With the advent of modern computing and online file sharing, the Pandora’s box of data security has been flung open, and the lid appears to be hanging from the hinges.
A quick search will reveal news stories of banks, credit agencies, hotels, hospitals, supermarkets, Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, and most recently the US Department of Defence suffering significant data breaches. Embarrassing at best, often resulting in further financial crime and fraud, and in the last case, potentially life threatening.
So where does that leave the rest of us? Is there any hope of getting the leaking data-security curse back into the box? Let’s go through three key principles needed to keep your data safe and secure.
Host it Locally
As the adage goes, if you want a job done well, do it yourself, and one way to enhance data security is to host your data on-premise, or with a trusted local hoster. This means that instead of using nebulous cloud-based services with vague guarantees and/or jurisdictional boundaries, you can store your data on servers that are physically located within your own business premises, or with a provider who can give straightforward answers to your security questions. This is preferable for a number of reasons, including:
i. Increased control and flexibility:
When you host your data on-premise or in your locality, you have more control over your data. You don’t have to rely on a third party to manage your data for you. This means you can choose your own hardware and software, and configure your system to meet your specific needs. Alternatively in cooperation with a trusted provider you can find a hybrid cloud solution, leveraging their expertise to find the perfect solution for you. For a small business, this could be a very simple setup without compromising on security, then scaling with size, the system and security measures can be adapted accordingly to ensure that your data is always protected.
ii. A more secure environment:
Hosting data on-premise creates the most compliant environment for your data. With most cloud providers, it is very unclear who might have access to you data, an issue which has led the French and German governments to ban the use of Office365 and Google Workspace in schools due to a lack of clarity over which jurisdiction the student data will ever be in. But if you have physical control over your servers, you can implement security measures that are difficult, or impossible, to achieve with cloud-based services, doing away with regulatory, or even legal issues that may arise from a nebulous cloud. For those with the most stringent of security requirements, private networks can even be configured to detect newly connected unauthorised devices, immediately alerting you, or even setting off physical alarm bells if you should so choose (we all like a bit of drama!).
Go Open Source
As mentioned above, the problem the French and German governments had with Google and Microsoft was a lack of clarity about how and where data is being processed, and to what extent it is accessible to other parties (foreign governments, the service provider themselves, etc). This problem is inherent in any closed-source proprietary software.
With an open-sourced product hosted locally however, there can be no secret back doors, super users, master keys, or hidden access to developers or governments. You can have both global collaboration and indigenous software under your regulatory control. Don’t take our word for it – have a look yourself! Furthermore, open-source software tends to be less expensive than proprietary software, and often of better quality. This is because the source code can be freely reviewed and improved by any developer, bringing together a body of knowledge and ideas far greater than any one private company could ever assemble. Similarly, bugs and security vulnerabilities are likely to be discovered and fixed more quickly than with proprietary software.
One further advantage of open-source software is that it brings greater flexibility and control, whereby any user may modify the software to meet their specific needs, or customise it to integrate with other software and systems they may be using, which brings us to our last point.
No matter how much security you may have, a chain is no stronger than it’s weakest link, which in many cases may not be electronic, but your employees or clients. All businesses want to be able to easily share documents both internally amongst fellow staff members and externally with partners and other valued third-parties. Crucially, though, they don’t want to lose control of these documents, as was the case with the most recent Pentagon leak, where an employee was able to simply print entire documents, and upload copies to the internet anonymously.
Collabora Secure View was developed at the request of a leading car manufacturer to solve this problem. Rather than sending full document files to an end-user, it sends pre-rendered pixels to their screen. Downloading, copying and printing can be fully disabled, with policy enforced server-side, and no amount of trickery can extract your original documents against your policy. The document can even be further watermarked with the user’s login information ensuring that they are unable to share a screenshot without identifying themselves.
In this way, companies are able to share confidential pre-release information widely without fear of leaks, receiving valuable feedback from internal staff and users, whilst still keeping everything under wraps before the big release, or in more serious cases guarding against corporate espionage.
This is only a quick overview, but unlike the Greek myth where Pandora was unable to return the curses unleashed on the world, we’re confidant that the data-security box can be safely and securely closed. If you’d like to find out more about how Collabora Online can help you keep your data your own, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.