An image of a digital cloud shape
Understand the basics, strengths & varieties of cloud storage options to protect your data

Among the many advantages of storing your propane or fuel oil company’s data in the cloud is heightened security against cyberattacks, such as data breaches, ransomware and denial of service. Robust cybersecurity is essential to helping your company protect its data and comply with strict data privacy regulations.

Cloud Basics

Cloud providers are third-party companies that own, maintain and operate cloud-based storage space, which is typically spread across multiple remote servers housed in large data centers. Although your data may really be stored in several different places, you will be able to access it at any time as if it were a single unit. You’ll pay a fee for this service, which is usually based on how much space you need. Among the advantages of moving your data to the cloud is reducing your own private storage costs, freeing up server space and providing access to your data to approved individuals no matter where they are or when they need the information. But another important benefit is improved security against cyber criminals who would like nothing more than to get ahold of your data for nefarious purposes.

Why Cloud Security Is Stronger

When you host your data in the cloud, the cloud provider is responsible for the protection of the critical foundational infrastructure. Cloud security providers use technologies, services, controls and practices designed to protect cloud data, applications and infrastructure from threats and attacks. Cloud-based security protects and monitors stored data on a more consistent and secure basis than you can create with data stored on an on-premise server.


In part, this is because cloud service providers have the advantage of focusing full time on security and are constantly developing and implementing new security tools to help users better secure their data. A cloud service provider typically offers its customers the latest in cloud cybersecurity technology to ensure they have the best possible protection from known and anticipated threats, including data breaches, unauthorized access, malware infections and ransomware.

This includes robust encryption, both while the data is “in transit” and while it resides on the cloud servers. Most cloud providers give their customers the option to manage their own encryption keys, providing further protection against intrusion by outsiders or even cloud service “insiders.”

Cloud data security focuses on data integrity, which means preventing unauthorized modification or deletion of your data. This could be a result of human error, malicious intruders, insider attacks, compromised hardware or configuration errors. The best cloud security management solutions offer regular monitoring of user activity, failed access attempts, modifications to files and unusual attempts to gain access to sensitive company data.

Different Clouds for Different Needs

Not all cloud platforms are the same. As more cloud providers have entered the market in recent years, it has become increasingly important to ensure that the service you choose supports the appropriate level of data integrity, confidentiality and availability required by your propane or fuel oil company. A good measure is to make sure your layers of cyber defense comply with data security laws in the states in which you operate.

You should also look for a cloud storage provider who has the flexibility to scale up as your business needs grow, and scale back down if things slow down. Most cloud plans charge by the volume of data being stored, so the ability to grow and shrink your cloud footprint is economically advantageous.

You may also have heard the terms “public cloud” and “private cloud.” Although they both provide secure data storage, they are significantly different in terms of where information is held. A public cloud service is a third-party provider, which is what we have primarily been discussing in this article. In a private cloud, an organization uses its own infrastructure to store information (often called a data center), which makes the company fully liable for data security and protection.

Some companies choose to create a hybrid cloud environment, with their most sensitive data stored in their private data center and operational information (which needs to be more easily accessible across business units or locations) stored on a public cloud server.

Don’t Ignore Your Own Defenses

Although cloud storage offers a deeper level of protection than most in-house servers can provide, you should keep in mind that it is still your company’s data, and you are responsible for it. We are our own worst enemy.

Most cyber breaches result from internal sources, either through human error or malicious intent from a disgruntled employee. Therefore, it is essential to implement strict data access control policies from your end of the data chain. This includes limiting access to information to the fewest number of individuals as is practical, implementing (and enforcing) multifactor authentication practices, and establishing internal policies on remote work connections and device usage — not to mention the need to train all employees on threats like phishing and spoofed emails.


Cloud computing offers significant advantages over a traditional data center-based physical infrastructure, including greater data availability, significant cost savings, data backup and data redundancy. Add to these benefits the enhanced security provided by a properly configured cloud security system and it becomes clear that a move to the cloud is a step in the right direction for energy marketers.

Nick Quaratiello is senior vice president at Blue Cow Software, an enterprise software platform company working exclusively in the delivered fuels industry. You can reach Quaratiello at


5 Elements of a Driver Training Program With Staying Power