In recent years, there’s been a major movement toward adopting the cloud across the hospitality industry. In 2013, for instance, nearly half of all hotels were already using the cloud or wanted to make the switch, and the number has only grown since then. This should come as no surprise: As hotel guests themselves use the cloud more and more in their personal lives —booking rooms online, working remotely from their hotels, or collecting loyalty points on mobile devices — they expect the hotels they trust to do the same. It’s all part of delivering excellent customer service. But not only can adopting the cloud industry-wide provide additional convenience for your guests, it can also revolutionize the way you work.

One of the primary advantages of the cloud comes from the ability to quickly and easily share files with selected users. But while file-sharing services are quite secure, it’s always sound to add layers of extra security when entrusting the cloud with sensitive data, particularly data that’s subject to governmental regulations. Popular services even occasionally fall victim to security breaches and data leaks, which can happen when files are not protected on mobile devices, are shared accidentally with the wrong users, or when the data is not separated properly from the keys that encrypt it. As cloud-based file services becomes increasingly common and data proliferates across collaborators and devices, it also becomes increasingly important to make sure security is a top priority when it comes to sharing and storing files. 

Even the remote prospect of a data breach may seem like a serious deterrent to using the cloud to gather and store client information. But the risks are easily mitigated if you employ certain smart — even straightforward — security strategies, providing you the freedom to reap the benefits of cloud-based file-sharing without worry.

  • There are several precautions to take that can significantly increase the safety of your files and documents when they’re stored and shared in the cloud. One such solution is file-level encryption, which encrypts the data itself — not just the various places where it resides and dramatically enhances the security of your sensitive data. Encryption helps ensure that only you and users you authorize can view the files; if the information is accidentally sent to an unauthorized party or your cloud storage provider suffers a breach, your — and your clients’ — data will remain safe. Adding a level of encryption beyond the security provided by the cloud provider also means that your files will be encrypted before they ever reach the cloud, so unencrypted data isn’t being synced inadvertently. Encryption also enables you to sync files securely across mobile devices, meaning that if you take your smartphone or laptop to a meeting, say, or work from home or on the go, your files will remain encrypted and protected regardless of the device they’re on.
  • File-level end-to-end encryption not only makes storing files easy and secure, it makes sending and receiving them safe as well. Certain encryption solutions, for example, offer the ability for non-users, like guests, to upload sensitive information directly to the hotel’s encrypted folder in the cloud. What this means, for example, is that instead of relying on fax machines or unsafe email to gather third-party credit card authorizations, third-party clients can simply upload the required information to the hotel in a secure way, without having to set up or download a special service. The credit card information remains encrypted all the while, so a user error won’t result in a data breach.
  • It’s a common misconception that the cloud is risky and hackers lie in wait to infiltrate files and leak personal information. While information can get into the hands of malicious actors — especially sensitive information like payment card data — breaches are far more frequently attributable to employee mistakes rather than hackers. According to a recent study, employee negligence is the number-one cause of data breaches and twice as likely as external attacks. Employee negligence can include mistakenly sending information to the wrong recipients or misplacing a mobile device with access to sensitive information. Encrypting your files — and having the ability to block users and devices from accessing sensitive data — means that mitigating the effects of a potential breach is within your control.
  • You should also always know how and when your colleagues are accessing data. Cloud software that offers audit trails will provide insight into who accesses your files as well as when and whether they modify them. If you notice an unauthorized user moving or changing your documents, you’ll be able to take swift action to stop the suspicious activity to protect your clients’ data.
  • And finally, be sure to follow good online security protocol. If employee negligence is the number one culprit when it comes to glitches, it’s also the easiest one to prevent. Be sure to change your passwords often when using the cloud, grant employees access to client information on a need-to-know-basis only, and revoke access to company information when employees leave the company.

As more and more professionals adopt the cloud, it’s inevitably going to influence your workflow soon, if it hasn’t already. Rather than resist the cloud, it’s useful to embrace it — and to approach it head-on knowing how to mitigate potential risks.