Unsecured cloud storage or poor security measures can lead to disaster. On the other hand, better security leads to improved revenue opportunities, safety, and advantages over competitors—not to mention less risk of breaches or some of the other cybersecurity issues plaguing businesses today.
So what really is the ‘cloud’? Cloudflare sums it up succinctly as servers accessed over the Internet. However, within an organization, the term: cloud computing is used to describe a lot more, insofar as it includes the servers, a series of switches, and routers, plus the databases that run on the servers.
Cloud computing is the now and the future with many businesses already set up or planning to implement some form of cloud computing into their operations, in the near future.
Regardless of whether your business has yet to enter the cloud space or not, it’s prudent to understand the importance of using some type of cloud security at your organization.
Here’s a guide to the importance of cloud security in any business.
How Cloud Storage and Operations Work
Cloud storage and operations are actually quite simple. It involves at least one data server connecting to the Internet.
Users send files through the Internet to the server, which forwards the data to multiple other servers. Once the data gets stored, it can be accessed through a web interface. To ensure the integrity of the data, it gets replicated across multiple servers, so it’s available whenever users need it and in the event of a failure on a particular server. Thus, the physical infrastructure of a cloud service consists of servers, storage, data, and networks.
Cloud architecture is just a bit more complex. Clouds use three service models: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
IaaS services offer storage, networking, and virtualization in a pay-as-you-go style. PaaS is more common, offering various hardware and software tools you can use to build myriad projects at your organization.
SaaS covers subscription-based software available over the Internet (think Dropbox and Microsoft 360). Each service has distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on the nature of the business.
Types of Cloud Deployment Methods
Another aspect of cloud architecture is its deployment methods. Cloud services rely on four different methods:
Public clouds are essentially available for everyone. Anyone can purchase and use a public cloud. For example, Amazon web services—something many of us use every day— are public clouds. Private clouds, on the other hand, are intended for a single company to use.
Private clouds offer more security and usually built inside of your company’s data center. Hybrid clouds are a mix of both, typically a public and private cloud.
A hybrid cloud comprises a combination of cloud types, such as a community and public cloud, a community, and a private cloud.
Community clouds are shared between different businesses or multiple agencies.
Why You Need A Security Solution
Clouds are just as susceptible to breaches and other security threats as any other system. In 2019, for example, millions of Facebook users’ data were exposed on an Amazon cloud service.
Poor security on the developers working on a third-party app resulted in a massive compromise via the cloud. Security threats change and evolve all the time. Just like its on-premise counterpart, a cloud can be infected or compromised at any time.
Working with a cloud provider on implementing powerful cloud security measures, in addition to establishing some oversight on the part of your own company, can help keep data in your cloud safe. Taking a centralized security approach, you have more agency over web filtering and network monitoring and set up a recovery plan. In addition, security can potentially reduce costs and administration efforts, as there’s no need for dedicated hardware.
What Is Cloud Security?
Think about cloud architecture in its entirety. First, you have the three service models—IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS—and the four deployment methods (public, private, community, hybrid). Now, add some security to that architecture. These include firewalls, antivirus, and intrusion detection. Another essential element of cloud security is the people who design the security itself. To that end, cloud security requires an auditor, architect, and engineer.
Another aspect of cloud security is data leak/loss prevention (DLP). Data leak prevention is but one aspect of cloud security. DLP is basically any tool that keeps data safe. Data loss, misuse, or unauthorized access are typically prevented while simultaneously alerting users to any breaches or compromised data.
Most DLP software uses guidance based on regulations like HIPAA and GDPR. Once it discovers an issue, it’ll use encryption or other actions to prevent end-users from being affected by malicious attacks. Powerful cloud security depends on a combination of careful auditing, understanding risks and how to manage them, and adding cloud elements to traditional security methods (such as firewalls and intrusion detection).
Compliance Concerns and IaC
Within the cloud, a company’s infrastructure can be digital. This is known as Infrastructure as Code (IaC).
IaC essentially enables better, more efficient control of the cloud environment. Users can implement changes and reconfigure their cloud environment easily with virtual machines. Aside from IaC, compliance is one of the most crucial aspects of getting right every time.
A shared responsibility model—where both your organization and the cloud provider share the responsibility to secure the network and cloud environment—is part of standard compliance.
In addition to shared responsibility, organizations need to comply with various other regulations and contracts such as HIPPA, GDPR, and PCI-DSS. Maintaining compliance and following all appropriate regulations, companies can go one step further in keeping their clouds secure and operating efficiently.