cloud security

Is the Cloud Secure? The Most Common Question to Consider When Connecting Your Lab to the Cloud

Are you considering connecting your autoclave to the cloud? Perhaps you’re thinking of upgrading not only your autoclave, but all of your laboratory equipment? Perhaps you’re unsure of embracing cloud-enabled equipment, and the whole concept of the Internet of Things, in the laboratory (also known as the Internet of Labs). Before you decide, make sure you adequately understand what connecting your equipment to the cloud means for your data.

One of the most common arguments against using cloud-connected equipment involves concerns with security and preservation of data integrity. Lab managers have long been weary of the cloud, as there’s certainly no shortage of horror stories out there involving hacks and data breaches.

But, the reality is that storing data in the cloud is inherently safe. Keep in mind that we’re talking about autoclave data here: cycle time, cycle temperature, cycle name, alarm conditions, and cycle phases. Personal information or information about the research experiment is not collected. — it’s the end-user activity or lack of adequate IT infrastructure – or both – that is most often to blame for a breach.

Understanding how cloud storage works in the first place is a key step to understanding why and how your lab data is safe. While you may not necessarily know exactly where your data is at any given moment, rest assured it is safe and secure.

How Secure is the Cloud?

Perhaps the most well-known cloud storage service provider is Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of Amazon that specializes in IT infrastructure — namely a cloud storage service that allows you to store data virtually, rather than in a costly in-house data center.

Consolidated’s cloud-connected autoclaves use AWS via the TetraScience platform. TetraScience connects with AWS’ flagship cloud storage service, known as S3. S3 reportedly has nearly twice as much customer data than the top seven other public cloud providers combined. As a result, AWS invests heavily in its own security — as any breach would undoubtedly be accompanied by a major loss in trust, which could mean the end for a company like AWS, or any cloud storage provider for that matter.

Simply put, cloud storage service providers take their security seriously and you should too.

Sending your data to the cloud via a private or secure connection means your information is encrypted and has been stored safely in a network of virtual machines situated within a secure data center.

When data is transmitted between a Consolidated sterilizer and the cloud, TetraScience encrypts that data using HTTPS/TLS which is further secured by server-side AES-256 bit encryption provided by AWS.

This level of encryption and protection means only authenticated end-users who are explicitly granted permission are able to access the data. This encryption, coupled with your organization’s own strong IT infrastructure means any and all access points into your network are protected.

Where is My Data Stored?

This question presents another common argument against connecting to the cloud. Ultimately, it is almost impossible to tell you where the information that goes from your lab into the cloud is at any given time. While not necessarily ideal, this is by design and has no impact on the security of your laboratory data.

The reason there’s no way of knowing where your lab data is located because a cloud storage service provider like AWS has data centers where computers run all day long and your information floats from one virtual machine to the next. It could be spread across five machines, it could be ten machines — AWS itself might not even know where all your lab data is located. But rest assured, it’s safe. Your cloud service provider likely undergoes incredible regulatory scrutiny and is routinely audited and tested for security and compliance.

Only once you’re able to get over any fears regarding security and data integrity are you able to understand the real benefits of connecting your lab to the cloud.

Benefits of Connecting My Laboratory Equipment to the Cloud

There are many benefits to connecting your lab equipment to the cloud — no matter if it’s an autoclave, a storage freezer or even a centrifuge. These benefits include:

  • Increased lab productivity
  • Accessible data from anywhere
  • 24hr text and email alerting
  • Real-time monitoring

One of the biggest benefits of connecting your lab equipment to the cloud is increased productivity. Productivity gains are realized by minimizing downtime, reducing waiting time and allowing researchers to connect with multiple pieces of equipment remotely.

For example, many researchers and scientists utilize autoclaves that are located in another room and are unsure when/if their autoclave cycle has been completed. Believe it or not, but simply checking on the autoclave can take up quite a bit of time and interrupt other workflows. A cloud-connected autoclave will send an alert to a desktop or mobile device informing the researcher that the cycle is complete or an alarm condition has been reached.

At Consolidated Sterilizer Systems, we believe the cloud is the future of your laboratory — which is why we’ve partnered with TetraScience to offer cloud-connected upgrades and retro-fit kits to any new or existing autoclaves. Contact us to learn more our cloud-connected autoclaves, as well as other smart options.

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