For businesses, cloud computing offers countless benefits, such as its endless capability for storing files, applications and other types of data; improved collaboration regardless of team members’ locations, saving them time and money by eliminating the need to build a costly data centre and hiring an IT team to manage it.

However, after 26 celebrities reportedly got their iCloud accounts hacked towards the end of last year questions have once again been raised over the security risks involved with using external servers to store information. Exactly how safe is the cloud? Let’s take a look at the facts:

Unlike a data centre, which is run by an in-house IT department, the cloud is a system which users outsource their data needs to a third party provider. The provider does everything from performing all updates and maintenance to managing security. The bigger picture, however, is that users are trusting others to look after their data.

As is evident with the recent celebrity hacking scandal, any time you store data on the Internet, you are at risk for a cyber-attack. This is particularly problematic on the cloud, where volumes of data are stored by all types of users on the same system.

The largest risk when it comes to cloud computing is that you never know what is up ahead. Hackers have been around from the start and they aren’t disappearing any time soon. And as technology advances, so do the risks involved with adopting them. Although the likes of Apple have since promised to put more security measures in place, as technology becomes more sophisticated, so do cyber-attacks. Just as cyber-attacks are on the rise, so are security breaches from the inside. Once an employee gains or gives others access to your cloud, everything from customer data to confidential information becomes vulnerable and open to theft.

Risks associated with the cloud are not just limited to security breaches either. They also include its aftermath, such as lawsuits filed by or against you. It was reported that celebrity victims of the ‘fappening’ case were demanding that Google paid $100 million in damages, where the search engine profited from the hacking scandal.

For business using or considering migrating to the cloud, all you can do is be prepared as you can possibly be. The key is getting to know your providers as much as you can, both as a company and from an end-user perspective. Whilst the cloud is all about ease of access, collaboration and rapidity, its benefits have to be weighed against the extent of security measures. When uploading information to the cloud, simply take into consideration the level of risk involved with hackers gaining access to it some way or another and whether you are happy for certain information to be seen and read by others.