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What is Cloud Security? Cloud Security Challenges and Solutions

Cloud security refers to safeguarding data stored online via cloud computing platforms against theft, leakage, and deletion. There are many ways to provide cloud security, including firewalls, obfuscation, penetration testing, virtual private networks (VPN), tokenization, and avoiding public internet connections. Cloud security is a type of cybersecurity.

KEY OUTCOMES

  • As a whole, cloud security refers to the methods used to secure digital assets and data stored online through cloud service providers.
  • Cloud computing refers to providing various services through the Internet, including data storage, servers, databases, networking, and software.
  • Two-factor authentication, VPNs, security tokens, encryption, and firewalls are among the methods being used to protect this data.

Computing in the cloud refers to the provision of services over the internet. Tools and applications like data storage, databases, servers, networks, and software make up these resources. With cloud-based storage, files can be stored remotely rather than on a proprietary hard drive or local storage device. As long as an electronic device has access to the web, it has access to data and the software needed to run the data. A number of benefits of cloud computing include cost savings, increased productivity, speed and efficiency, performance, and security.

For users concerned about the security of the data they store in the cloud, cloud security is essential. Having their own local servers gives them more control over their data and they believe their data is safer. It may be more secure to store data in the cloud, however, since cloud service providers have more sophisticated security measures, and their employees are security experts. Security breaches can be more likely to occur with on-premise data depending on the type of attack. Malware and social engineering can put at risk any data storage system, but on-site data may be more at risk since its guardians lack experience in detecting security threats.

Concerns About Security

For cloud storage providers, cloud security is a top concern. Not only do they have to satisfy their customers, but they must also adhere to regulations regarding the storage of sensitive data, such as credit card numbers and health records. The third-party audit of a cloud provider’s security systems and procedures guarantees the safety of its users’ data.

Some of the main threats to cloud security include data breaches, data loss, account hijacking, service traffic hijacking, insecure application programme interfaces (APIs), poor cloud storage provider selection, and shared technology that can compromise cloud security.

Cloud security is also at risk from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Users who are affected by these attacks cannot access their bank accounts or email accounts because they flood the service with data.

7 Common Cloud Security Challenges

Cloud computing has become an integral part of daily life for both individuals and businesses. Cloud computing services are used by businesses, non-profits, and other organizations on a daily basis to save time, money, and hassle that otherwise would be spent on maintaining an “on-premises” computing solution.

Despite the fact that the cloud allows many companies to access critical software apps, computing platforms, and services, it has also resulted in new cybersecurity challenges.

So, what are some of the biggest cloud security challenges that you might face? Below are a few common concerns:

  1. Intellectual Property Loss or Theft

Many companies are concerned about IP theft. In 2018, there were more than 3.3 million patent applications, according to WIPO data. As IPs represent competitive advantages for businesses that own them, their loss or theft can negatively affect their market share as copycats can replicate products and processes for less because development costs are not incurred.

  1. Violating Regulatory Compliance 

Compliance guidelines are strictly enforced by many organizations within their industry. Cloud computing services, however, may not meet the strict regulatory compliance standards an organization must follow. If the cloud computing security issues related to the compliance standard are not addressed, compliance violations can result.

  1. Cloud Environments Are Less Visible

Many companies have problems with cloud computing solutions because some CSPs do not provide visibility into the cloud environment. Most frequently, SaaS solutions suffer from this problem – PaaS and IaaS solutions tend to offer more visibility as the user is expected to configure and manage the cloud environment themselves.

  1. Reduction of Control Over Cloud Environment Settings

In addition to reduced visibility, cloud computing service users tend to have less control over their computing environments when using the cloud. In general, this occurs more often with SaaS-type cloud solutions delivering a fixed application. PaaS and IaaS solutions usually give the user more control.

  1. Spread of Lateral Attacks

It is easy for an attacker to spread from one workload on the cloud to another if a cloud computing environment lacks defense-in-depth controls. Multiple databases or applications on the cloud can therefore become compromised rapidly during a breach.

  1. Security Has Become More Complex 

Many companies dealing with multiple cloud providers complain about the complexity of cloud security procedures. Certain SaaS solutions might require multi-factor authentication via SMS text messages, while others might use other authentication methods. Due to this, it is more difficult for end users to integrate different cloud solutions into their daily workflows.

  1. Breach Notification to Affected Parties 

As a consequence of decreased visibility into a cloud computing environment, it becomes more difficult to identify the parties affected by a breach. Because there are no detailed records of which databases and apps were affected, it is harder to determine whose data was compromised. This makes notifying authorities about data breaches much more difficult.

Overcoming Common Cloud Security Challenges

What can be done to address some of the above security concerns with cloud computing? While risk will always exist in any IT environment, there are some steps you can take to minimize, if not eliminate, many of the issues outlined above.

1: Use Only a Limited Number of Cloud Computing Vendors

When dealing with cloud-based solutions, one of the biggest challenges is that they may all have different security tools and processes-which makes them more difficult to manage. It can be very helpful to limit your choice of CSP vendors in this situation.

You should consider sourcing as many cloud solutions as you can from one vendor. However, this can be challenging.

2: Verify That You Have Access to Information About The Cloud Environment

Visibility is critical to cybersecurity, which is why you need to verify what information you will have access to about the cloud environment before you sign an agreement. You can more easily track and control security when you have better visibility into the cloud environment.

3: Check Security SLAs

You should also check the service level agreements of a cloud service provider regarding security before signing an agreement. If a breach occurs, how quickly will they resolve it? When will normal service be restored? Who will notify the affected parties?

Verifying these SLAs prior to signing a contract can ensure that:

  1. Ensure you are meeting the cybersecurity requirements of your industry;
  2. Your business will be protected from unreasonably long service disruptions; and
  3. Identify who is responsible for what after a data breach.

4: Look For Specific Security Measures

How will the CSP make sure that attackers cannot access your cloud environment? Will they be able to prevent attacks from spreading from one node on their network to another? Checking what security measures a cloud service provider offers is crucial for establishing:

  • How prepared they are for protecting your information;
  • Whether they are able to meet compliance standards; and
  • How difficult or easy it will be to integrate the solution into your existing cybersecurity architecture.

There are not all cloud solutions that provide built-in security for the cloud. IaaS and PaaS solutions, in particular, will likely leave it up to their customers to incorporate the appropriate security systems to protect their cloud environments.

5: Engage a Cybersecurity Expert

Don’t hesitate to seek help when in doubt.

A cybersecurity expert can help you determine whether a cloud solution has the right security measures to protect your company’s data, employees, and clients. Making an informed decision with the aid of an expert can help you protect your organization more effectively in the long run.

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