Hey, you, get off of my cloud!

15 March 2017

No, don’t worry. It’s not a blog about the Rolling Stones. Rather, we recently ran a twitter poll asking the question: what is stopping you as a SME from using cloud accounting? And the results were as follows:

In simple terms ‘the cloud’ is the internet. It allows SMEs to piggy back other companies’ servers and IT infrastructure, saving not only the capital outlay but also the ongoing costs of running large server rooms and complex systems. In most cases there is a monthly subscription fee for this benefit.

If you are looking to embrace an online cloud accounting package, such as Xero, it is natural to be concerned about how safe your data is going to be. Companies like Xero take online security very seriously and their security policies can be viewed here.

In all industries there is a growing trust of online and cloud services, from banking and shopping to running your business. Gen Y and the Millennials are leading the way with these changes, but iGen, Gen Z and Centennials will be sure to take this trust to another level.

One of the benefits of cloud accounting is that backups are automatic. We have seen what happens when a laptop crashes and the accounting data is only on that machine – how often do you back up? And if you do backup, when was the last time you checked the backup worked? If you had an online solution, you would simply log onto another machine and away you’d go – therefore ensuring minimal disruption.

We are certainly not saying online systems are completely risk free. But we are asking you to consider how risky they really are compared to your current accounting solution. Do you protect your spreadsheets or physical records? Do you shred or securely destroy your paper records?

To get you thinking we’ve come up with five top tips for staying safe within the cloud:

1. Use a reputable and well known provider

Online data should be encrypted – “the process of converting information or data into a code, especially to prevent unauthorised access”.

Do your homework and request the security policy of the provider (ask yourself: where is the data backed up? What happens ‘if’ etc.?).

2. Consider who has access to your data (set appropriate permission levels)

In the modern world and as technology becomes increasingly secure, the most common form of data breach comes from human error – the equivalent of spending thousands of pounds on a security system and then leaving the front door open.

3. Use secure passwords, and don’t write them down or leave them lying about for people to find

Most providers now recommend or require passwords of a certain length and make up, and will show how secure it is by giving your password a score when you set it.

If allowing your browser to ‘remember me’ then consider who else can access your computers and devices.

4. What would happen to your business if you didn’t have internet for a period of time?

As you move to the online world, this becomes more and more important to consider, and whilst you can log on and access your cloud data from anywhere, do you have a plan for where that might be?

5. Keep operating systems and apps up to date

Whilst most breaches occur due to human error, keeping software and operating environments up to date will minimise your exposure to glitches or weaknesses which a hacker might exploit.

Whilst you cannot completely remove risk when embracing online technology, we believe it is just as safe as traditional methods. The benefit of the cloud is that you can improve efficiencies, pick up where you left off and control your business anywhere in the world, at any time.

With this in mind, what is now stopping you from embracing the cloud? After all, moss doesn’t grow on a rolling stone.

If you have any questions about cloud accounting or would like to discuss if it could be right for your business, please contact me or your local UHY adviser.

To read more about the benefits of cloud accounting, visit our dedicated website at www.uhy-cloudaccounting.co.uk.