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Is Google Apps data safe?

If you are running a small business that relies heavily on Google Apps, can you be sure your data is safe? Is there anything available to protect data created in the cloud?

According to Google, user data is stored in environments that are essentially the same as if it were stored on a dedicated server or storage device. Individual users are protected from unauthorized access by other users. The company even says it has a very limited number of employees who are authorized to enter Google data centers.

While all this sounds good when viewed on a web site, there is always the concern that nothing is perfectly secure, and despite advances in security technologies, information created in the cloud ought to be backed up in at least one alternate location. And there are some options out there for users that need to back up Google Apps data. Backupify, Asigra and Spanning all offer Google Apps cloud-to-cloud backup, for example.

Unless the data is absolutely critical, and cannot be compromised under any circumstances, the data protection measures used by Google and its competitors are probably sufficient for most users. However, I'd always want to err on the side of having a backup copy of any critical data. If that data is created in Google Apps, products like the ones mentioned above can be a valuable investment.

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There will always be risks when you have data in a place where it can be accessible from the web.  It could be from insiders, social engineered into giving up a credential that makes it vulnerable.  It could be a man in the middle attack while someone tries to setup a VPN to your corporate network or maybe a bot net attack.  All data on the web is likely at risk at some point of being targetted.  So the question is, is Google data more or less risky for your company.  That's the question that I think matters most here.  If the ability to leverage Google Apps helps your company in the short run, then maybe its worth even the small risk that is involved here.  

Otherwise it may not matter at all.
Google Apps are as safe as the practices and the content that is kept inside of the documents housed there. Given the likelihood of social engineering within organizations, I am less wary of cloud based hosting approaches than I am from internal threats. Regardless of what server houses your data, if your internal security is compromised, the location of the files will be of little concern.