In today’s online world, Gmail is an institution. Since arriving in 2004, Google’s email service immediately rose to dominance, swiftly gaining popularity. With over 1.5 billion+ monthly active users (2018) Gmail is one of the most dominant email platforms in the world. However, that doesn’t mean you should store your business-critical data in a consumer Google or Gmail account. In this week’s blog and video, we talk about the risk versus cost and the key differences between a Google’s consumer account (Gmail) and its G Suite for Business account.
Risk Versus Cost
In the digital marketplace, successful businesses regularly evaluate risks against costs – and this should certainly be considered when we think about data storage. Despite Gmail’s huge fan base, few users are aware of the risks of storing corporate data in a Google consumer or Gmail account. At Damson Cloud, we regularly come across Gmail users who have set up Gmail or consumer Google accounts to store vital business data, including emails and corporate documents. This is particularly the case for documents, given their usability with a Google Drive solution.
In the majority of cases, businesses who store their data within a consumer account do so in two main scenarios. Firstly, a business may set up a Gmail account to share information within Google Drive with suppliers, clients and internally within their own teams, syncing onto their computers. Secondly, we may come across a larger business with up to 1,000 employees where a team or department has set up consumer accounts using a company domain. Despite using a company domain, corporate data is stored within personal accounts, presenting significant risks. But what are these risks?
No Contract? No Agreement
Perhaps the biggest risk of storing corporate data on a personal account is the lack of contract or service level agreement – and without such an agreement, a business will have no recourse for uptime, lost data or compliance protection. This is, of course, problematic. However, by opting for a G Suite Business account, your data is secured by a service level agreement with Google, immediately guaranteeing uptime and system reliability. Beyond these immediate benefits, a G Suite Business Account provides a contract around data storage, including what happens with the data, who owns the data and who controls the data.
Without this legal safety net, users of personal Gmail accounts merely agree to a set of terms and conditions. With no service legal agreement comes no support contract, leaving personal account users to their own devices in the event of data loss. Fortunately, a G Suite Business account offers full enterprise-level support: an essential in today’s digital marketplace.
No Administrative Control
When it comes to data control and protection, administrative control is essential. However, having such control is impossible when using a personal Gmail account. Having no control over your back end systems leaves you without any overview of control over the accounts your team are using. This carries the added limitation of not being able to change a password or suspend an account if someone leaves your organisation. This leads to significant risks around security, GDPR compliance as well as risks around your own governance and compliance as an organisation. In real terms, personal accounts allow no way to guarantee the integrity and security of your data.
From a business standpoint, data loss under a Gmail personal account can leave you with few options. The lack of a contract leaves users without any legal recourse. Beyond this, consumer accounts technically belong to the individual, leaving compromised businesses to navigate through a huge complex legal grey area. With a service level agreement, there are no ambiguities around data property and control.
No Security, No Support
We have touched upon some of the security risks around storing corporate data within a personal account. Another significant risk in this area is around account lockout. If an employee forgets their password and doesn’t set up a backup email address, they risk becoming locked out of that account permanently, with potentially disastrous consequences for the business.
Like many of the risks involved with storing corporate data on a personal account, this can be averted by holding a G Suite Business account, and by extension a service level agreement. Without a business account, users have no enterprise-level support, no administrative control and no one to assist you in retrieving that account.
In more serious scenarios, your personal account could face being compromised by a hacker. In the event of a hacking incident, Google can simply shut off access to your account, as has happened in many cases over the past decade. Whilst some users never see these accounts again, others have a lengthy wait to access them. A G Suite Business Account includes built-in security features which detect suspicious logins.
Another key element of G Suite’s added security features is in its offering of shared and team drives. If an employee leaves your organisation, for example, you can remove their account, and by extension remove them from all files and folders within your account. With shared drives comes more control of your valuable data.
With administrative control, businesses have the power to suspend accounts in order to gain back access. These features are especially useful in the event of an employee maliciously deleting data, with Business accounts allowing users to back up or recover that data.
Total Control, Total Peace of Mind
In summary, it pays for businesses to truly consider the importance of their data. By that data, we mean files, presentations, invoices: key elements in keeping your company functioning. Having control of that data is critically important. That’s why Damson Cloud recommends at least G Suite business: a platform which allows for shared drives, secure systems and GDPR compliance.
How do you feel about people using consumer accounts versus using business accounts? Is it worth the risk for you as a business?
As a longstanding member of the Google Cloud Partner program, Damson Cloud specialise in bringing people and ideas together through new ways of working. We champion change management and digital transformation using some of the internet’s most trusted solutions, including G Suite, Happeo and Jamboard. To find out more about our services, check out our library of tutorial videos or our blog.