SecurityWe offer a free trial of our online accounting software and we tend to follow up those who don’t go ahead to become paying subscribers to find out why they chose not to go ahead.

Typically we’re told that they love the software, it’s by far the easiest to use and easiest to understand application they’ve ever tried for managing their accounts for their small company or sole-trader business. But they just don’t like the idea of their data being held on the web.

There’s a perception, especially amongst non-technical users, that data held on their PC or Mac is more secure that it would be on our servers.

So let’s look at this for a moment:

Data Security

Home/Office PC: Free copy of Zonealarm (software firewall) – probably not updated very often.
SaaS solution: Incredibly expensive hardware firewall with sophisticated intrusion prevention. Most SaaS providers, ourselves included, have to be what is called PCI compliant and are scanned regularly by a third party to check for security weaknesses.

Security Monitoring

Home/Office PC: No monitoring. Sometimes there might be a software product to alert you to attempted attacks – but this is of no use if you leave the computer on and connected to the internet whilst no one is using it.
SaaS solution:  Monitored 24/7 by security specialists at data center

Risk from viruses and Trojan horse

Home/Office PC: High risk. The computer is often in use and is used to visit websites and has other software installed
SaaSsolution: Virtually non-existent. The computer is only used to serve the application

Backups of data

Home/Office PC: Backups may be taken once a month if at all. And that’s only if you remember to do them (honestly, when did you last backup your data?)
SaaS solution: We have real time live synchronisation to a remote location, so if London (where our main data center is) disappeared overnight, we’d be back up and running with zero data loss very quickly. We also  take regular “snapshot” backups throughout the day.

Physical Security

Home/Office PC: Your computer is often located under the desk or in the spare-room at home. Physical security is usually limited to a burglar alarm (which keeps going off accidentally so now gets ignored by all)
SaaS solution: SaaS companies use  secure data centers. Appointments are needed to visit hardware. Often biometric scans and photo identification are used to gain access

Risk of Fire

Home/Office PC: Smoke alarm under the stairs (no battery)
SaaS solution: Sophisticated ‘dry’ fire suppression system, ensuring no damage to hardware

So by far a SaaS solution is more secure than your home/office system. Logically it’s very easy to prove this. Often though, when faced with the above arguments people say it “just doesn’t feel right” and talk about “gut feelings”. As a programmer by trade I find it really hard to change someones mind when their opinion is based on emotions. So when someone says they’re just “not comfortable” with their data being online, we don’t try to change their minds (we don’t know how!)

Thankfully though, these objections are becoming less frequent. We hear it significantly less often than we did a couple of years back or even 6 months ago. But I think this is by far the biggest hurdle SaaS companies have to overcome when selling

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