Is Cloud Computing Safe?

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People ask all the time “Is cloud computing safe?” Organizations and businesses of all types, sizes, industries, and geographies are turning to cloud computing services. Recent studies suggest that both private and public adoption of cloud services has dramatically increased in the past year. It is projected that this trend will only continue through 2020 and beyond, where many companies are expected to have either cloud-first or cloud-only policies. Notable factors behind the popularity of cloud computing include things like reduced operating costs, enhanced collaboration, improved time to market, increased flexibility as well as improved security.

Cloud computing is simply computing based on the internet. In the past, businesses used to run applications and programs from software installed on a physical computer or server inside their building. Cloud computing gives you access to the same kinds of programs and applications over the internet.

Despite its enormous benefits, cloud computing has its fair share of disadvantages. And one of these is a security concern. Cloud settings do experience, at a relatively higher level, the same security threats as conventional data environments. Simply put, the threat picture is pretty similar.

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Cloud computing runs on software and depends on software to operate optimally. Consequently, the software has vulnerabilities, and adversaries will always try to exploit these loopholes. However, as opposed to information technology systems in a traditional data center, in cloud-based computing, the responsibility for mitigating the security risks is shared between the cloud consumer and the cloud service provider. This only implies that as a business owner, you must know and understand the division of responsibilities.

Businesses should always approach hybrid cloud security as a joint endeavor with their cloud service providers. And assuming that your cloud partner will take care of your security concerns once the data leaves your premises is a recipe for errors. Even with the most equipped and secured hybrid cloud provider at your disposal, still, maintaining security demands for a proactive approach.

According to clouding computing experts, a successful transition to a cloud security framework largely depends on five pillars that form part of a sequential cycle, with every single pillar dependent on the ones that precede it. Firms that incorporate these pillars into their cloud computing strategy will not only experience the much-needed peace of mind but will equally optimize their overall security.

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So, today in this particular post, we want to discuss in excruciating detail, the six pillars of cloud security you need to address to ensure you get the most out of your cloud computing services while minimizing the risk of potential security problems.

Security and data protection:

Data protection is arguably the most important security issue as organizations are always reluctant to transfer their data to remote machines and computer devices if there is no guaranteed data protection from the Cloud Service Providers. On most occasions, cloud computing involves organization data leaving the trusted surrounding of the organization. Unfortunately, this results in numerous information security and data protection challenges that organizations need to tackle.

While cloud computing service providers are already doing their part by using different security techniques to protect the data stored on their premises, businesses are yet to understand that they also have a role to play. There are internal and external cybersecurity issues that demand joint attention between the cloud service provider and the organization that promotes its data to the cloud.

When it comes to cloud data protection techniques, no particularly new method is needed! Securing and protecting data in a cloud setting is pretty much similar to protecting data in a traditional data center. Identity and authentication, access control, encryption, integrity checking, and data masking are all data protection techniques that are applicable in cloud computing. Encryption is arguably the most widely used method of protecting data, whether data in transit or data at rest. However, it is not always a perfect solution. NetSec controls are known to create another layer of protection, as do data policies. Information that is regarded to be of high risk can have special policies applied to it accordingly.

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There exists other data security and protection conditions that need to be taken into account. Routine threat scanning and archiving. For example, emails kept in spam folders usually contain latent threats, that can easily be triggered if these emails are opened unknowingly at some point, so they should be eliminated from users’ systems promptly.

Naturally, cloud resources are shared resources. This only implies that identity and access management should be at the core of security and data protection strategies of organizations. Organizations need to put the necessary measures in place to ensure that their own data are effectively segregated from those of their customers and also establish and know the people who unlimited access to those data.

Conventionally, customers usually look at identity access management from the perspective of users, permissions and roles. In a cloud-based structure, identity access management (IAM), enables information technology administrators to authorize individuals to take actions on specific resources, and oversee control and visibility across the entire cloud platform. Similarly, organizations using the cloud should understand that services can be subject to the same IAM.

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To successfully and effectively develop and implement IAM, firms should enable single sign-on, multi-factor verification, and use role-based access controls to minimize the exposure of highly sensitive accounts and data.

Compliance, governance, legal and audit:

Vendors should be actively managed, especially cloud service providers. And this only puts additional governance, compliance as well as risk factors to the table. First and foremost, this encompasses the legal requirements ensuring one has the right and legit contracts, service standards and data security and protection requirements implemented as needed. Of course, this will mainly depend on the industry as well as the jurisdiction of the cloud computing consumer.

It is also imperative to note that the right structures and procedures should be put in place to ensure that there is highly efficient governance that fosters a shared responsibility between the cloud computing service provider and the user of the cloud computing services. In terms of risk management and reduction, organizations need to ensure that there is a possibility on their part to audit their cloud service provider from end to end. The terms for sub-cascading outsourcing to a third-party must be in place.

Today, one of the major risks of cloud computing is compliance. And this is a problem for anyone using cloud storage or backup services. Every time an organization transfers its data from its internal storage premises to a cloud, it is faced with the challenge of being compliant with industry laws and regulations. Depending on your industry and requirements, every business should ensure that these industry standards are adhered to. Cloud users need to work with cloud vendors that can provide compliance and ensure they are regulated by the recommended standards. Some vendors provide certified compliance, however, in some instances, an extra input may be required on both parties to ensure compliance.

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Organization

The organization’s cloud computing aspects will always stat with your organizations strategy for adopting the cloud. It only means that you will need to identify all the potential benefits you are anticipating from cloud computing. You need to have a clear understanding of your human resource planning. In this regard, you need to know the roles you will have to create to effectively manage relationships with your cloud provider and whether you will have to downsize your workforce and shift some of the responsibilities to the cloud. Of course, over time, you may have to review your organization management strategies and business processes to ensure you get the most of your cloud computing services.

Service management:

Cloud service providers are not that different from their traditional IT service provider counterparts concerning their quest to offer top-notch, affordable, secure and impactful IT services. Cloud service providers should focus on designing quality services to consumers to help solve their needs. They should strive to provide value to their customers by facilitating the outcomes clients want to achieve, without the ownership of specific risks and costs.

In terms of service management, we focus on the outsourcing of services. In this regard, efforts must be put in place to ensure that the contracts are actively and effectively managed and the levels or standards of the services are up to par. Generally, a cloud service provider must be assessed based on its capability to effectively integrate service management with the customer to manage service availability. A feasible service management should include capacity management to allow the cloud service provider to effortlessly handle a load of numerous customers on the shared cloud environment.

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Incidence Response:

For some businesses, incident response is usually the first symptom of a non-actionable security framework in a cloud setting. On most occasions, security incidents aren’t even successfully identified until long after they have happened, and the damage has already been done. The prospect of dealing with the aftermath of a security incident in a cloud environment can be a hugely daunting task owing to the challenges that the cloud security infrastructure brings on board. Depending on the number of applications, programs and systems your organization hosts in multiple cloud environments, including via your third-party functionalities, a single security incident can easily result in far-reaching consequences.

However, with an actionable incidence response framework at your disposal, you can easily identify and possibly mitigate all security threats or failures as well as non-compliance problems early enough before they become can have a damaging impact. Incidence response can take many forms, from simple identification, rectification, to prevention and mitigation and changes in policies and techniques that may help avoid the occurrence of similar incidents in the future.

Being able to execute and maintain a highly effective incident response program for your cloud computing starts by knowing and understanding how to better utilize the cloud security tools at your disposal.

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Technology:

There is no doubt that technology is the backbone of cloud computing. However, technology equally presents many challenges to cloud computing and this is a factor that should be given a priority. Technology is always evolving, and with this rapid technological revolution, cloud computing, too, must change and evolve with it.

And if you look at the cloud keenly, you would agree with me that it requires you to critically re-think the program and application architecture, different software development and support model as well as the supporting infrastructure capability. In simple terms, businesses and organizations cannot similarly treat the cloud environment to the on-premise data centers. In terms of portability and interoperability, organizations must have the flexibility of switching the cloud computing providers and migrating in and out without having to experience a vendor lock-in period. Cloud computing services should have the ability to seamlessly integrate with the on-premise IT infrastructure.

It is also imperative to note that organizations cannot assume that their existing IT team is capable of handling a leap to the cloud. Cloud computing service providers are very different, and this simply implies that companies must invest in training their existing IT staff to ramp up their knowledge and skills so that they may be able to cope with the demands of the ever-changing cloud technology.

The evolving cloud technology should also be looked at from a security perspective. As cloud technology continues to advance, hackers are also horning their malicious tricks to remain relevant. This only implies that any slight ignorance on the part of your IT team can easily open the door to a security catastrophe. Hence, it becomes extremely important for the organizations to avert this potential disaster by focusing on building and training a team with adequate knowledge about cloud technology as well as industry expertise for handling such crucial responsibility.

If you are currently looking to make the transition from traditional data storage to cloud-based solutions, you should know that you will have to play your part, especially when it comes to cloud security. We have provided you with six practical and actionable cloud security pillars that you need to have at your disposal to enhance your cloud computing experience.

Don’t wait any longer! Kindly grab this opportunity and give us a call and we would be happy to immediately start a conversation with you regarding your current and future business technology needs.

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