Over the past few years, a large number of small and medium businesses have moved to cloud computing and there are significant reasons for such a big move. Keeping the wide range of benefits that one may avail by opting for cloud based solutions, business owners prefer to move to these models. No matter whether you are thinking to opt for a public cloud, a private cloud or a hybrid cloud model, there are different sets of benefits for all three. Although public and private clouds function in somewhat similar way, there are some differences in the benefits that you will get. In both the models, the applications are hosted on a specific server and all these can be accessed through the Internet.
If you are running on a shoestring budget and won’t hesitate to share the server with other users, you should opt for a public cloud model. In case, the applications or the websites that you are going to host in the server, contain sensitive information and you would like to ensure added security for those, you should opt for a private cloud model. However, in both the models, you have to trust a third party agency. Whether you are going to create an offsite backup file for your company’s crucial data, you are planning to use a SaaS (Software as a Service) version of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, or you are planning to set up a social media marketing page, you have to rely on the third party company for the protection of all the business related information. This is why it’s essential to know about the potential risks beforehand so that you can also follow the precautionary measures, and ensure a safe and secure environment for your business.
Before taking a look at the probable security issues, you should check some of the recent trends in cloud computing. According to a survey, done in 2015, hybrid cloud is the most preferred model among enterprises and presently, 82% of all businesses are using this model. However, the study shows that 63% of enterprises use a private cloud, while 88% prefer to store data on the public cloud model. It has also been highlighted in the study that private cloud networks are handling larger workloads as compared to the public cloud models. To be precise, 22% of enterprises are running more than 1000 virtual machines privately, while only 13% of businesses are running more than 1000 virtual machines publicly. One of the most significant information revealed through this study is 68% of cloud users have stored around 20% of the total workload online. In fact, more than 50% of the total respondents mentioned that even though an additional 20% of their business portfolio is ready for cloud, they have stored those data in on premise solutions.
However, here are some of the most relevant cloud computing security concerns that you should keep in mind –
- Secured software interfaces – According to the recommendations of the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), every business owner should be aware of the APIs or the software interfaces that are being used to communicate with the cloud services. If you continue to rely on a set of APIs or interfaces that are not so strong, your business may get exposed to different security issues. These include availability, integrity, confidentiality and accountability issues. For a better understanding of this entire concept, you should learn how the security measures are followed by all the cloud service providers. If you have a sound knowledge about access control techniques as well as activity monitoring policies, it will help you detect any security issue as soon as it occurs.
- Secured data transfer – Data transfer is one of the integral parts of your business and this is why you must be careful about all the traffic that is generated to your website. Remember that all the traffic that travels between the service that you are accessing and your network must come across a secure channel. Make sure the URL via which you are going to connect your browser to the provider, reads “https” at the beginning. Apart from that, all the data should be authenticated and encrypted, following the industry standard protocols. Usually, most often the security measures, mentioned in IPsec (Internet Protocol Security), are followed for ensuring security since this protocol has been exclusively designed for protecting the Internet traffic.
- Controlled User access – When you store some business data on the server of a cloud service provider, you should always keep it in mind that the data can be accessed by any of the professionals, associated with the service provider’s company. More importantly, you can’t really control what these professionals can view or access. This is why, you should consider how sensitive the data is which you are going to store in the cloud server. Moreover, you should also ask the service provider for the specific details of the professionals who are going to actually manage the data. You should also check what level of access those professionals have on the data.
- Secured stored data – The moment you store some data on the server, you should check whether or not it’s properly encrypted. Usually, cloud providers ensure complete data protection. However, you should be a little inquisitive and check the exact measures that the service provider is following for securing your data. Moreover, you should also ensure that your data is perfectly secure not only when it’s flowing from one source to another, but also when it’s placed on the server itself and being accessed by different applications. You should also keep a note of whether or not they dispose the data properly. For instance, they should delete the relevant encryption key in case they want to delete some chunks of data.
- Secured data separation – One of the most obvious aspects of cloud computing is that you get to use shared resources. Basically, you have to share space on the server as well as the entire infrastructure, provided by the service provider. You should know that in order to create virtual containers on the hardware, a hypervisor software is used. Using this software, separate space can be created for individual customers. However, over the recent years, there were several instances of the shared technology, within the cloud computing environment, getting attacked. This is why you should properly investigate what is the exact compartmentalization technique that your service provider is follwoing. For instance, data encryption is one of the many techniques that service providers usually follow in order to prevent access into the virtual containers of individual customers.
Now that you know the major security concerns, you should always follow the security measures strictly so that you can ensure maximum possible data security for your business. In fact, you should be very careful right from the period when you adjust the security priorities and practices for cloud. Here are three simple steps that you should follow in order to deal the security concerns efficiently –
- Remember that access control is essential – One of the major steps that you need to take while working on cloud security issues is to establish strict access and authorization controls. Remember that this is probably the most effective way to limit the possibilities of security breaches and minimize the risks.
- Figure out the problems early – Handling cloud security issues are quite like solving some other complex problem. The most efficient way to handle these problems is to detect and address the problems as soon as possible. You can easily do this by preparing a list of compliance and security principles and then do a comparative study to find out the exact areas of improvement.
- Prioritize the vulnerability testing – Vulnerability testing is one of the most important aspects of cloud security that you should prioritize the most. Make sure the system undergoes a rigorous testing system as it will help you design and implement the proactive security controls.
Following these steps will surely help you manage risks effectively, at least in the initial phase. Managing these risks will help you enjoy the benefits of cloud computing without affecting the critical assets of your business. Before you entrust any single service provider, make sure you address all the security issues thoroughly so that you don’t have to compromise the security of all those data that are crucial for your business.Tags: