While networks have many advantages – the key one being connected systems and data – their key problem is security. The only way to be absolutely certain that data transmitted on a network is secure is secure is to encrypt it – and this is an issue of much debate in recent times.
While a wired network may offer some physical security – hackers have to get one the premises effectively – wireless networks have always had an issue in that they can be “scanned”. Many of use have probably used unsecure/free public wifi on a bus or in a coffee shop. This is fine once you are not sending confidential information.
And I am sure many of us have used the sometimes costly wifi in hotels. We may think as we pay, it is more secure. A recent blog post on the Economist suggests otherwise. The post notes a report by Kaspersky Labs, which found that specific persons staying in hotels were targeted and their hotel wifi connection snooped. This was down to some clever malicious software, but the lesson to be learned for a business might be – assume all wifi you do not control is unsecure.
Sage (a leading provider of accounts software) have recently extended their most popular product to the cloud. And they have done to in a way which seems to address a lot of concerns.
My experience of cloud accounting software is that while it is functional and easy to use, it does lack some of the capabilities that desktop accounting software offered. What Sage appear to have done is taken their best product for SME – Sage 50 – and retained the best of both worlds. The news release at the link above suggests a new product, Sage Drive, allows the user to retain the desktop functions but store data in the cloud. This has several advantages. First, the sharing capabilities of the cloud are available once the data is stored there. Second, existing functions are maintained and this may particularly suit the accountant users. Third, it may ease some security concerns accountants often mention with the cloud. From my understanding, only the data is cloud hosted. Some desktop software is still needed to make sense of the data.
A recent report cited on CGMA’s website places technological risk at the second risk concern amongst a survey of Boards of Directors. The risk concern is with cyber-security, and was the number one risk concern of private firms. The report notes an increases in the perceived technology risk from previous years. It is interesting (and good) that Boards are well aware of technological risk – as most large organisations today are so reliant on their information systems. You can read the full report here and the CGMA article here.