It goes without saying that data security is a big deal. Across every industry, protecting your intellectual property is paramount. Corporate espionage and product knockoffs take many forms and sometimes data leaks are completely accidental. So what’s the best approach to keeping your proprietary designs confidential? Can backing up your CAD data in the cloud possibly be as safe as your personal hard drive or your company server in the fireproof server room?

In the past, top secret government agencies relied on a circle-the-wagons method of security. External network connections, USB ports and other writable media on any computers were forbidden. No cameras or cellphones were permitted onsite and there were strict gatehouse personnel searches. With all these protocols, their data was presumed to be safe.

But in reality, even these safeguards did not guarantee security. Eventually, data needs to leave your safe haven in order to communicate with your customers and suppliers. While government agencies still employ those tough security measures, data communication between agencies and approved suppliers is now managed in the cloud. This includes the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Security Agency, institutions that are paranoid about secrecy.

Nearly every day in the news, we learn about nefarious hackers stealing data and planting malicious computer viruses. Although these hackers generate much of the fears and attention surrounding security breaches, they aren’t the only culprits. Unintentional or careless employee leaks can also do a lot of damage. Employees take laptops home, store data on removable USB drives or send unencrypted confidential information via email. It’s easy for computers to become infected with viruses, laptops and USB sticks to be lost or stolen, and emails to be intercepted or even sent to the wrong recipient. Routine activities that are necessary to run your business can unfortunately leave you vulnerable to many potential security threats.

Your company’s most valuable asset is its intellectual property – so enforcing strict data usage and security policies within your traditional computer setup is essential. But as long as you continue to use data files created with commercially available software, your data is at risk no matter what you do. CAD files can be easily read and data easily extracted.

One of the biggest problems with file-based CAD systems is that they are non-stop copy machines. Every time you send a file as an email attachment, you’re making copies. Copies in your outbox and copies in your recipient’s inbox. Every time you use an FTP site or a service like Dropbox, you’re churning out additional copies of your IP that you no longer have control over. You don’t know where your IP will go next (is your recipient’s cybersecurity solid?) or who can look at it.

For this reason alone, your IP is safer in Onshape, a modern CAD system that unites advanced modeling tools and your designs in one secure cloud workspace. There are no copies and you have strict permission controls over who can view or edit your master design – as well as who no longer needs access.

We Don’t Use The Cloud at Our Company, Do We?

The truth is that nearly every other profession already relies on the cloud for managing and protecting its most valuable data. Sales professionals use a service like Salesforce to access the customer and prospect information they need at any time and from any location. Marketing specialists may use a platform such as HubSpot for web-based campaigns and website traffic monitoring, while Human Resources likely manages payroll and benefits online, too. Why? Because the setup, administration and deployment of cloud-based solutions are so much easier than any previous tools – and much cheaper, too.

Let’s take a look at HR, for example. For years, enterprise HR software was only viable for companies with large budgets. While these products have been database driven, they were on-premise solutions (i.e. hosted on your own internal servers). These types of solutions tend to do nothing out-of-the-box and require an army of database programmers and months (if not years) of custom code writing before the system is rolled out. Most companies today cannot afford to do this, especially when there are viable, pay-as-you-go systems available online.

The cloud is a win-win situation for both customer and vendor. The customer benefits from the convenience and savings of using a cloud solution, while the vendor sharply reduces their logistical costs for software delivery, tracking, debugging and upgrades. More and more companies are now moving all their business systems into the cloud. According to Forrester Research, the cloud computing market will grow to become a $236 billion industry by 2020. The analysts attribute the growth to a faster-than-anticipated demand for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications.

So why should your engineering department be left behind?

In Onshape’s latest eBook, “How Safe is Your CAD Data?”, you’ll learn about our multi-layered, modern approach to CAD security as well as all the additional safeguards we deploy alongside our partner, Amazon Web Services, the same cloud storage used by the CIA. It’s extremely likely that these precautions are far more than what your company is doing now to protect itself. Download your free copy today!