Can the cloud truly keep CAD files secure?

Can the cloud truly keep CAD files secure?

Banks keep money safe. Clouds data.

If your designers have spent months perfecting the details of a complex project, there is no way you are going to risk that information getting lost or stolen. Unsurprisingly, therefore, one of the biggest concerns that engineers, architects and BIM designers have about CAD in the cloud is the issue of data security

Whether you fear industrial espionage, hacking, or simply don't like the idea of storing your design files outside of your own premises, the cloud can appear to be a risky option. The fact is, it is near impossible to guarantee that any technology will be completely safe. But is using the cloud riskier than any other option?

What do people fear about cloud-based CAD storage?

When it comes to security issues, most engineers, designers and architects cite similar concerns about online CAD storage. These include:

  • Files in transit. Whenever you access CAD files in the cloud you need to connect to them from your computers. Some engineers are concerned about the risk that this data could be intercepted.
  • Location of files. It is psychologically reassuring to know that all your files are on a server in your company's basement – with the cloud you don’t know exactly where those files are.
  • Concerns about the cloud provider. There is also a very slight risk were the cloud company to collapse, you would lose all your data too.

Although these concerns are understandable, many of them are based on misconceptions about how the cloud works. The fact is that the biggest risks around the cloud - just like any technology - is incorrect usage by customers.

If your teams know how to use the cloud securely, it is just as safe as anything on premises - and probably safer.

Why is the cloud safer than on-premises for CAD data?

Although there is something psychologically reassuring about holding your files in on-premises servers, this does not necessarily mean the data is any more secure. As this infographic shows, the top causes of enterprise data loss are ransomware, damage to physical laptops and desktops and human error. All of these are threats related specifically to the on-premises environment - the cloud is the source of far fewer data losses by comparison. Why is this?

Most data loss happens because of human error.

If one of your employees clicks on a link in a phishing email, they could inadvertently give hackers access to your on-premises systems. The same goes if they use weak passwords which a malicious individual steals.

In an on-premises environment, your hacker would have immediate access to all your files. But if you use the cloud by contrast, the same hacker who has found a way through your first line of defence will still normally need to pass a second line of authentication. That makes human error hacks a lot more difficult if you opt for cloud storage.

All big cloud suppliers encrypt files in transit and at rest.

This means that it would be impossible for a hacker to view your content even if they did manage to somehow intercept it. By contrast, few on-premises environments offer this same level of encryption.

 You avoid the risk of data loss caused by malfunctioning equipment.

If your files are kept in the cloud, they will be kept securely off site. So, even if you spill coffee on your keyboard, thieves break into your office or you are hit by a flood or fire, your data - which is after all your most important asset - remains safe and secure.

Using the cloud for CAD storage is safer

In most scenarios, the cloud is much more secure than on-premises for CAD data. Ultimately, unless you have greater resources to protect your data in-house than huge cloud companies like Microsoft, Amazon or Google, the cloud is basically always the safer option.

And it's not just security where the cloud outperforms on-premises. Read our blog on the other benefits of using CAD in the cloud.