Over the last decade many computing tasks that were developed to be performed locally on and office PC have now moved to the cloud such as contact managers, office documents, media editing programs, you name it: if there is a software version, there is probably a cloud-based version, and often for free. Just search for the name of the software you use plus “free online.”

“The cloud,” as it relates to technology, refers to millions of internet connected servers, which may be owned and operated by either corporations or private individuals, sitting in homes and offices.

These servers may be used to back-up your small business data, host email, documents, files, and offer up software as a service.

Cloud-based data, just like local PC-based data, is vulnerable to physical theft if the building isn’t properly protected, power outages if there aren’t redundant power backups, natural disasters if Mother Nature decides to have a bad day, and criminal hacking through system weaknesses, phishing, and social engineering.

Most cloud service providers won’t explicitly outline what they do to protect your data because it could offer potential hackers information on how to compromise their networks. But one provider for example promises “strict data security policies, military-grade encryption, and world-class data centers for optimal data protection of your business’ computers and servers.”

The cloud computing security guide from Intel provides practical steps to help IT managers plan cloud computing security, with recommendations for strengthening cloud platform and data center infrastructure implementations.

Robert Siciliano personal and small business security specialist toADT Small Business Security discussingADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures

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