Is your data secure in the “Cloud”?

QUESTION: 

How can I make sure that my restaurant’s data is truly secure in the “cloud”?

ANSWER:

If your accountant has offered to provide a service that will store your restaurant accounting data in the “cloud,” there are four security questions you should ask:

What type of protection does your company use to safeguard my information? For example, a cloud-based provider should use 256-bit encryption—the same encryption that the banks use to protect your data—when you connect to its site, application or server.

What security measures does this provider take in regard to its data centers? The company’s production servers should be located in highly secured, locked facilities with biometric access controls. The data centers should have guards and video surveillance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Authorized employees should have undergone background checks, and ID cards, PINs and finger/hand scans should be required to enter the facility.

Does this provider undergo security audits in compliance with industry standards? A comprehensive audit not only validates the security of the company’s IT protocols, but also looks at how your data is handled and how it can be accessed.

How often does the provider back up its servers? Since your data is hosted in the cloud, your company doesn’t have to deal with the hassle of conducting regular data backups. However, you should ask your cloud technology provider how often it backs up your data. Two words that you will want to hear in the company’s response are “regular” and “redundant.” Continuous backups should be performed so that the provider can recover from a potential disaster quickly and without a disruption in your service. The company should also conduct redundant backups, where your data is stored on additional backup servers housed in separate and secure data centers.

QUESTION: 

When hiring an accountant, is it better to go with a generalist or a specialist?

ANSWER:

If your current accountant has never made a pizza in the kitchen, you should start searching for an industry specialist. Through the use of the “cloud,” the accountant of the future will not be the local bookkeeper down the street. Instead, day-to-day accounting tasks will be performed by software that can gather data from multiple sources. But the software can’t answer all of your questions. You’ll want to hire a restaurant industry specialist who can help you determine the best sources to mine for vital information and interpret the data to make better-informed decisions.