The cloud is more and more a normal part of the functioning of many businesses. So, cloud security is an absolute must for all businesses. Knowing what type of safeguards the provider offers and what they can do to prevent breaches and data loss is the basis of making the most of such technologies.
Research shows that cloud spending has surpassed 20 billion dollars in 2020. The technology is slowly taking over for a number of reasons. There is no need to invest in dedicated hardware and finding the space to hold it in, which eases operations for many companies. Cloud solutions give businesses the ability to scale at a moment’s notice, their performance surpasses the alternatives already in place, and they offer a more comprehensive digital experience.
Cloud architecture is homogenous compared to terrestrial networks that were built over years and where old technology is not well integrated with the newer one. Data centers that house the servers which create the cloud are all-new, their equipment is highly compatible and cloud providers take pains to keep things up to date and working well. The first result of this is its reduced cyber-attack footprint and the small number of vulnerabilities that an attacker can exploit. Other advantages are its agility, flexibility, and cost savings, plus the endless configuration possibilities that fit all needs. Yet this doesn’t mean that there are no issues, most of which are related to the way companies understand the requirements of storing and managing data in the cloud.
What does cloud security mean?
The cloud is a vast number of connected systems that store information and software. In order to safeguard all this infrastructure and data, policies, controls, procedures, and technologies have been implemented. Cloud providers invest heavily in security innovation because their centers house various types of platforms and services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) in one place and they stand to lose heavily if they cannot respect their part of the bargain when it comes to security. They also make sure their authorizations to operate are up-to-date and have skilled teams that keep everything in good order. On top of all this data centers need to respect regulatory mandates, frameworks and laws of the countries in which they operate.
The defenses of such systems are layered and increasingly difficult to breach. Being a new technology, both when it comes to hardware and software, logging and monitoring are much easier.
Nevertheless, these centers work with the shared responsibility model. This means that they make sure their hardware and software are in top shape all the time and have all guardrails up, but expect companies to learn how to configure, protect and migrate their data. Different services have different amounts of responsibility attached and when a company decides to purchase one of them, they need to understand well what they are embarking on.
Security issues in the cloud
Recent research from TechTarget unveils that 81% of the organizations surveyed experienced at least one cyberattack. Cloud solutions come with added security and providers focus on maintaining customer trust and confidence, but the protection they offer does not extend to how a company manages its sensitive data. Especially in the current global situation when security needs have grown due to remote work. Technology has become the crucial enabler for keeping businesses in existence and growing. So, many rely now on digital workspaces, virtual collaboration, they have created digital customer experiences and, in some cases, moved retail completely online.
The larger the internet, the larger the danger
The number of devices that are internet facing is growing. Any device connected to the internet is a liability, especially in the hands of someone unaware or untrained about the risks. Nowadays highly sophisticated malware is readily available. There are search engines focused solely on detecting exploitable weaknesses in a system. They are just a tool, of course. Security teams use them to be proactive about the issues of their network, but hackers use them very successfully, too, only for more nefarious purposes, among them stealing data, or shutting organizations out of their networks.
A 2021 report from Verizon shows that the vast majority of security breaches happen because of privilege abuse and data mishandling. The components of the cloud are much more interconnected and they interact more easily than those of a private network. A minor opening anywhere in the system is a doorway to your sensitive data. In many situations staff does not have training in good security hygiene or the company does not have procedures that have taken as many situations as possible into account and this puts them in harm’s way.
Most systems use multi- or hybrid-cloud infrastructure, that is on-premise and cloud so, controls are decentralized. This translates to more systems to keep in check in different places, rather than just one, visibility issues, not being able to know where everything is exactly and how to fully control it. Other concerns are related to misconfiguration. When something that has not been factored in leaves the system open to attackers, leads to networking and communication inefficiencies, disruption of business processes, and even downtime it transforms from a small mistake to a huge issue. Configuration drift, the result of a lack of strict enough rules about logging any configuration change is another thing on the list. The rate of expansion into the cloud of the organization has to happen together with security that is done at high scale and high speed, which is definitely not an easy feat.
Keeping your data secure
The best approach to securing your data is to be proactive. Know very well what your responsibility as an organization is when you purchase cloud solutions. Train all your employees in cyber-hygiene. Creating data is a collaborative effort, protecting data should be, too. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 99% of security failures will be the customer’s fault. Learn about the importance of encryption and when you need to deploy it. Knowledge and expertise about the cloud are growing, there are more certifications available for those willing to learn. So, either train a team or hire a team to keep all these issues at bay. Get ready for massive growth. In the cloud, expansion is exponential and very fast so be prepared with procedures that give you full visibility of your data.
Cloud solutions come with many benefits for companies, especially while the pandemic is still raging, but they will most likely be part of the future. Yet they are something organizations need to prepare for. Going ahead without a very clear idea of the risks, not only the perks, is not a wise business decision. Cloud security is the element that makes or breaks organizations and it will be more so as the current trend becomes the norm.