A recent incident involving Google’s Gmail service and a Wyoming bank highlights the risks of business email and cloud computing.
A Wyoming bank accidentally sent information about 1,300 of its customers to the wrong Gmail address. The bank later sued Google for information concerning this wrong recipient. Google, rightfully, refused, and that’s where it gets ugly, because Google also suspended the account in question (an act that was quickly recinded).
As pointed out by Jim Rapoza of eWeek, among others, this could happen to anybody. How many of us have gotten phishing emails claiming to be some bank or other? We delete them and go about our business, because most of them are spam. Apparently just the act of receiving an email not intended for us is enough to get our email accounts suspended without notice.
This is a good reason not to rely upon free email accounts like Gmail for business purposes. But even using a paid-for email host, such as the one offered by your Internet provider, is no guarantee this won’t happen to you. I recommend you set up a custom domain for yourself (like me at mybusiness dot com). Then, if you do lose access to your email host, be it outage or any other reason, you can quickly establish a new email account elsewhere and forward your custom address to it without having to inform all of your contacts of the new address. Otherwise you could wind up losing business and reputation.
This also highlights the risk of sending confidential data via email. No email is secure, and especially not business email being sent to a freebie account. Confidential data is best encrypted and either transmitted via secured connections, if you have that capability, or sent the old-fashioned way: on a disk. Less convenient, perhaps, but ask Rocky Mountain Bank of Wyoming if the negative publicity was worth saving a few hours of time.
Now, imagine you’re using cloud computing and ALL of your programs and data are on the Internet. Can you afford to lose access to them because of something beyond your control? Is it worth the tradeoff for convenience and a less expensive computer? I’m not sure it is.