We live in the information age, where everything we do and accomplish can be turned into data. In addition to this, we’ve also grown used to storing and accessing everything online - from cute photos of our pets to confidential company data. Businesses all over the world are profiting from this state of affairs but it’s also making them more vulnerable and their data easier to expose.
Unfortunately, cyber threats are more common and more sophisticated than ever before. They come in many shapes and sizes. Hacking, phishing, insider breaches, even accidental leaks - these are just some examples of the risks businesses are constantly facing today. This is why data security has been such a hot topic for years now, and it’s not likely to lose its significance any time soon.
There’s an increasing trend among companies towards digital processes, and a part of this trend is storing large amounts of information on cloud. For the sake of efficiency, everything that can be automated - is. One of the types of data that businesses need to worry about protecting are employee performance metrics which are collected by a staff monitoring system.
In order to keep this data safe, the first question for you to answer is where to store it. You’re basically faced with two options - cloud solutions, or on-premise software that stores data on your own servers.
This article will outline the advantages and disadvantages of both these solutions, particularly in terms of data security. This will help you decide which one you should opt for when choosing your staff monitoring system.
But first, let’s discuss why protecting your monitoring data is so important.
Why You Should Care About Data Security
In order to fully understand why it’s essential to keep your data from staff monitoring system safe, let’s go over what kind of data this is.
What sort of employee tracking software you get will ultimately dictate the amount and type of information collected, but at the very least you’ll have a list of all employees and the departments or teams they work in, programs and websites they use, and the amount of time they spend on their computers. You might also get data like attendance records, screenshots, clock-ins, productivity stats and timelines, projects and tasks, etc.
Having this in mind, we can see that there are two main reasons why protecting this is important.
First, even though information like how much time an employee has spent working in Excel might not seem that sensitive, there are other types of data whose security you should definitely care about. For example, screenshots can contain a lot of sensitive data, so imagine what leaking this would do to, say, a financial institution or an insurance company. Things like project budgeting, employee payroll or the list of clients you work for are also some of the information you probably don’t want out.
And secondly, staff monitoring system essentially maps out all of your business operations and performance, including which projects you’re working on, how you perform certain tasks, your timelines, which tools you employees use, and so on. Having the precise data on how you operate your business in the wrong hands can be a serious problem.
So, now that we’ve asserted that your monitoring data needs to be secure, let’s go over your storage options.
Cloud Solutions: Benefits
Monitoring solutions that offer to store your data on their cloud are far more common than on-premise options that we’re going to talk about later. Most employee tracking systems at least offer this as one of the alternatives, and in many cases it’s the only one.
Cloud solutions certainly do have their advantages. For one, they’re extremely easy to set up - it’s either a standard download or an online sign-up, after which you don’t have to worry about the implementation any more. Also, having your data on a remote cloud is very useful because you can access your data from wherever you are.
Cloud Solutions: Problems
However, this convenience comes with a trade-off. And that’s the fact that cloud monitoring solutions aren’t the most secure option.
The first problem is that configuring a cloud can be pretty complicated, so there’s a lot of room for human error. Another problem is the fact that most of the cloud market is dominated by only a couple of providers, most notably Amazon, so their infrastructure is well known and even the tiniest error or oversight makes those servers easy to hack for someone who knows what they’re doing. Plus, since everything is on the global network, a lot can happen while you data travels from one user to another or from a user to the remote cloud.
Of course, staff monitoring system providers try to keep the possibility of a breach to a minimum and they’re generally considered secure, but the sad truth is that mistakes can and do happen, even to the biggest and most technologically sophisticated companies, such as in the case of the recent Microsoft breach.
On-Premise Solutions: Benefits
As a safer alternative, we have on-premise or self-hosted solutions. As the name suggests, in this case, you store your tracking data on your own company servers. As such, on-premise solutions are generally only used in big companies that have their own servers to begin with.
This option has two huge advantages over cloud-based software. First, hosting data on your own servers gives you much more control over how and where your data is stored. This means that you’re in charge of how much data you want to keep at any given time.
It also means that you’re completely in charge of security. This is the other benefit of an on-premise staff monitoring system. Since your data isn’t online, it’s much safer because you get to control who accesses it and how. Consequently, there’s much less chance of a leak or an external breach.
On-Premise Solutions: Problems
There are, however, a couple of drawbacks to this type of solution. The first is the fact that much fewer monitoring software providers offer this kind of deployment option, and that it's usually available for larger companies. The second one is that implementing it takes a lot more effort than the simple and convenient cloud option, and is usually more expensive. But the fact that you can get near bullet-proof security in return makes it worth that effort and investment.
Now that you understand the benefits and trade-offs of both on-premise and cloud employee monitoring solutions, you’re hopefully better informed to make the right decision when it comes to deployment. If you value convenience, don’t consider any of the tracking data to be particularly sensitive, or you simply don’t have your own servers, then go with the cloud solution. But if it’s important that you have control over your data and that it’s completely secure, self-hosted software is well worth considering.