Adapting your business for the cloud

New research has highlighted the many advantages that businesses can gain from being cloud-savvy and web engaged, but the PCI Council has stressed the continued importance of PCI compliance in this area.

According to the March 2013 Business Monitor from accounting software provider MYOB, the "financial chasm" between the online-savvy and the online-cautious is widening.

Over 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) were polled by research firm Colmar Brunton to gain insight into the level of cloud usage and the business benefits that were being accrued from the use of the technology in Australia.

The results of the study found that businesses that did use cloud were 106 per cent more likely to see a revenue rise in the past year than those who didn't, up 53 per cent from July.

"Our research findings provide a clear cut case for embracing online technologies in businesses," MYOB chief executive Tim Reed said in an April 15 statement.

"The latest study reveals SMEs using cloud were twice as likely to see a revenue rise in the past year than those who aren't. It's similar for those with a business website, who were almost two thirds more likely to see a rise than their peers."

The study also found that businesses that did use the cloud were more likely to plan to increase activities such as boosting staff numbers, paying staff more and focusing on customer retention strategies in the next year.

The PCI Council recognise that businesses are increasingly turning to the cloud for their everyday activities, but they also stress the importance of vulnerability management to ensure that customer payment data in particular cannot be compromised.

The PCI Council recently released a report titled "Cloud Computing Guidelines Information Supplement", which is intended to help businesses overcome some of the limitations associated with proving compliance in a cloud environment.

Under these guidelines, cloud providers can now say that they are PCI-compliant by ensuring that a high-quality security audit takes place to confirm that their network security and physical security policies are adequate.

If you are concerned about the ability of your organisation to keep customer data secure in the cloud environment, it may be a good opportunity to consult a trusted security solutions firm about developing a more robust strategy.

By having an outside party assess the security of your organisation's ICT network, you can ensure that any flaws are identified before they can be exploited – helping you to achieve compliance with the payment card industry data security standard.

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