“Cloud computing” or “computing in the cloud” is a phrase that has been around for a while but it can be a confusing topic to many business owners.
Put simply; cloud computing is the storage and access or retrieval of software and data over public and private networks. This differs from traditional computing where data and software are stored on a local hard drive. While there is no real “cloud”, as in a weather-event, the phrase is commonly used to represent the Internet as a means of access to programs and data. Technology history buffs will recall early diagrams of network infrastructures represented as clouds with lines drawn in to and out of the cloud, symbolizing connections form network attached devices, like computers and server.
The adaptation of cloud computing is growing rapidly, and service providers are enabling higher levels of access and functionality. With that, enhanced security features are becoming a standard part of the feature sets.
In fact, many of the security features we find in traditional, closed networks can be found in the cloud environment. Moreover, because it is possible to rapidly scale a cloud environment, scaling secure operations in the cloud is highly achievable.
However, much like security on a local network, the more access and features you have enabled, the more you need to focus on protecting your digital assets. Often there is an inverse relationship between access and security. In other words, the more “open” a platform is, like the cloud, the less secure it becomes.
A complicating factor is the distributed nature of the cloud. Contrast with a local network where you have control over every aspect of the ecosystem, in a cloud environment; you sacrifice a bit of control since the data centers that make up the cloud are responsible for the humans and hardware inside the cloud computing ecosystem. The cloud providers reputation should be rigorously vetted before leveraging their infrastructure. Especially for critical, sensitive data.
Cloud Data Vulnerability and Breaches
Regarding the most prominent cloud security issues, the vulnerability of cloud data is a legitimate concern for any business. It is critical for any company to examine the entire security methodology of a cloud provider before placing software or information on their servers. This method extends beyond simple hardware solutions like a firewall and should include software protection, background checks on the human workers, anti-virus, anti-malware, and intrusion detection, to name only a few.
Understanding how the cloud provider will address these cloud security issues proactively and reactively will help assure a business that their data is protected and secure.
Compromised Accounts and Credentials
There has been a sharp rise in compromised accounts within cloud computing environments. The unfortunate truth is that many of these intrusions could be avoided or mitigated by leveraging best practices with account names and passwords.
In a recent data breach, the system’s username and password were both configured as “admin.” Meaning anyone who correctly guessed (or used software to guess) “admin” as the username and “admin” as the password would have been granted full access to the system.
Earlier in this article, we discussed the inverse relationship between access and security. That link is also valid for ease-of-use and security. While it might be convenient or easy to have a password that is memorable, these passwords are too simple to guess and increase your vulnerability and exposure.
Make sure your cloud provider addresses cloud security issues like this with a strong password and credential policy.
Denial of Service for Cloud Data
Among the top concern for digital security when computing in the cloud is the availability of your data and software. Your business will struggle to keep going if lose access to your data.
One method that individuals with malicious intent can keep you from your data is a denial of service attack on your cloud computing environment. Simply put, a hacker or other individual that wants to harm your business could overwhelm your cloud environment, preventing authorized connections from your business from getting in. If you cannot access your cloud, you cannot access your data.
Closely examine how your cloud provider handles denial of service attacks and make sure they have a plan to maintain high levels of availability for your programs and data.
Permanent Data Loss
Possibly at the top of the list of cloud security issues is the threat of permanent data loss. This has the potential to be a business-closing event if you are not properly protected.
Data loss can result from a variety of conditions, including:
Preventing data loss involves combining strong backup methodologies with the cumulative effort of many of the techniques discussed in this article.
The array of cloud computing options and the cloud security issues involved can be overwhelming to many people. We can help. Contact us today for a FREE Cloud Security Analysis. We’ll examine your current cloud computing environment and expose existing vulnerabilities.
This no-obligation analysis will help you better understand how secure your cloud computing environment is.