IT giant Microsoft has been making headlines for the wrong reasons recently, after a new report has revealed that some 250 million of its customer records – spanning 14 years – have been exposed for all to see online without password protection.
An investigation by Comparitech, a UK-based security research company, managed to uncover five separate servers containing an identical set of 250 million customer records. These records contained sensitive information, including support logs which detailed conversations that had taken place between Microsoft support staff and its customers from all over the world. In another twist, the unsecured servers also contained records which ran between 2005-2019.
The records were accessible to any member of the public with a web browser. No authentication or passwords were required, according to the Comparitech report on the incident.
In the recent Microsoft mishap, most of the data that could be used to personally identify customers had been redacted. However, members of the Comparitech team have stated that a lot of the information contained plain text data which included customer email addresses, geographic locations, IP addresses, support claims, Microsoft support agent case numbers, descriptions of the customer service involved and other internal notes which otherwise should have been marked as “confidential”.
Exposing Issues With Cloud Storage
While many news sources might prefix Microsoft’s latest data leak with terms like “shocking” or “unprecedented”, at Discount Licensing we’re not at all surprised that this has happened. Ultimately, the cloud amounts to little more than storing your information on somebody else’s device. While many see this as a convenient means to access data on the move, your valuable and often business-critical data is now in the custody of a third party who you are relying on keeping their promises ensuring it will be fully protected at all times.
On-premises storage is ultimately the best way to ensure sensitive data remains safe. While migrating to the cloud is currently a favourable proposition for senior decision-makers across businesses of all sizes, it’s important for those responsible for any IT changes to understand the potential ramifications when things go wrong with the cloud.
What would be the damage to your business from a data breach? Potential exposure to fines, loss of key records, a decrease in customer confidence or even lost business. Can you truly rely on a third party to fully protect and manage as well as separating yourselves from something that is so crucial to your success? If this sounds concerning, an on-premise software solution might be a more secure – and more affordable – option for your firm.
Cloud Vs On-Premise Software: Weighing Up The Options
Many decision-makers across UK SMEs and start-ups are under the impression that purchasing cloud licences on a “rolling” basis offers greater flexibility than outright purchasing a software licence. While it’s true that there are some advantages to the cloud - for example, it can be more beneficial from a cash-flow point of view to purchase on a monthly basis instead of raising the capital to outright purchase, over time, there is a premium to be paid. When it comes to software, there are advantages to on-premise perpetual software licences. And that is, when you purchase a cloud-based licence, you are handing control of business-critical tools to a third party, whether that’s the software manufacturers or even the internet providers. The service utopia you are sold may turn out to be different in the real world. Also, if a business has been used to owning its licensing, the regular invoices it receives to continue to use its software may over time not look quite such a cost-effective option.
It often comes as a surprise to learn that it’s possible to purchase secondary software licences at a fraction of the cost of buying them first-hand from the provider – but you can. The beauty of secondary software is that it doesn’t experience any wear and tear. The new user gets all the same functionality as the first user.
Pre-Owned Software Licences Explained
A lot of companies who own their software licences for products like Microsoft Office often overlook this asset’s potential residual value when they are no longer required. Whether they have become surplus to requirement due to downsizing, upgrading to new product versions or liquidation, these licences can be sold on to an appropriate vendor for resale, generating unexpected revenue. This then provides other companies the opportunity to continue to own software but at a much lower outlay (sometimes at a price comparable to the annual of it’s cloud alternative) thus allowing them to retain control of all the security that an on premise licence gives.
But what does this essentially boil down to? That’s right - your data stays in house. You’re not storing it on a stranger’s, your neighbour’s, or even your relative’s laptop; you store it safely where you control who has access to it.
Save Money While Securing Your Data
Given how easy it is to purchase secondary software licences, it should come as no surprise that many leading businesses across Europe are opting to eschew the cloud in favour of a more secure means of storing and accessing data.
If you would like more information on how your company could save money while ensuring sensitive information is stored in-house, why not speak to a member of Discount Licensing’s software licence team? From exchange servers to MS Office, you might be pleasantly surprised just how cost-effective it is to keep your data under your control.
At Discount Licensing, we only deal with legitimate on-premises Microsoft software licences. We carry out all due diligence and ensure that the software licence is proven before we pass it on. Our care and attention to detail is what makes us one of the most reputable secondary software licence companies in Europe. Call us today to discuss the licences you would like to sell or buy.
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