Technology has innovated the business world in several ways in the last few years, and one of the most impactful is cloud technology. 82% of companies reportedly reduced expenses by moving to the cloud. By 2015, end-user spending on cloud services could total more than $180 billion. But, as with any technological advancement, cloud security is a component of the revolution that’s nearly as important as the innovation itself.
An Overview: What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is generally broken down into three categories: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Software such as Microsoft 365, Salesforce and other email, collaboration and CRM applications are delivered over the Web and managed by a third-party vendor. Most SaaS applications are run directly from your browser without requiring installation. This service eliminates the need to download software onto your computers, and it enables efficient vendor management of your maintenance and support.
Typically used to increase developer productivity, cloud platform services give developers a framework to build upon in order to create or customize applications. PaaS simplifies the development, testing and deployment of applications and reduces their cost to a business. Third-party providers usually manage operating systems, virtualization, data storage and more, while developers manage the applications themselves.
Used to extend data-center infrastructure for temporary or permanent workloads, IaaS – or cloud infrastructure services – are commonly used to support an expanding business at a lower cost. These self-service models are used to access, monitor and manage the data systems such as computing, storage, network and others. Instead of owning additional hardware to meet your demands, you’re able to purchase IaaS without the cost and obligation of ownership. Unlike the two other staples of cloud services, you are responsible for managing your applications, data, operating systems and other needs.
The Concern: Cloud Security
Perhaps the biggest concerns regarding a cloud computing system are your security and privacy. According to the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), cloud vulnerability incidents more than doubled from 2009 to 2011. The idea of handing important data to IT consulting firms worries some people. Corporate executives might hesitate to take advantage of a cloud computing system due to the perceived risk of sharing valuable information with another party.
In its whitepaper, the CSA revealed that the three greatest threats to cloud security are insecure interfaces and application programming interfaces (APIs), data loss and leakage and hardware failure. They accounted for 29, 25 and 10 percent, respectively, of all threats on system security. In addition, “the top three cloud providers, Amazon, Google and Microsoft account for about 56 percent of all non-transparent incidents of cloud vulnerability.”
Privacy is another matter. If you’re able to log into the cloud from any location to access your data and applications, it's possible for your privacy to be compromised.
Protecting your cloud environment is critical.
How To Fortify Your Cloud Security
There are several important measures needed to ensure the security of your cloud environment. The following are some of the most basic:
Leverage authentication techniques, such as formidable user names and passwords.
Use an authorization format that gives your users access to only the data and applications relevant to their own jobs.
Encrypt your data that resides or moves in the cloud.
Make sure your IT support is auditing, monitoring and testing your system security on a consistent basis.
Keep your team informed on security best practices so they are operating in the safest ways possible.
If it’s in your company’s best interest to transition operations to a cloud environment, you must consider the security of your system and information as a major part of the equation. When you assess providers, make sure you put a strong emphasis on cloud security and take your own measures to ensure the sanctity of your data.
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