Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Security: Main Benefits, Current Risks, and the Way to Avoid Them
by Cynthia Young
The fears of some companies regarding cloud technologies are explained by the fact that clouds appeared on the market relatively recently by the standards of a traditional business. But if you take into account the speed of evolution of IT, then the technology is already quite mature.
Accordingly, there are many myths explained by the lack of awareness of customers about the nature of cloud services and the presence of a large amount of not entirely reliable information.
However, with the right approach, a good understanding of the technology and a balanced choice of the provider, cloud services can provide greater reliability and security than the existing infrastructure in the company. In this article, we will examine the pros and cons of cloud storage security.
Cloud Security - Benefits Reaffirmed by Research and Practice
More recently, Fortinet introduced four key cloud security concepts.
According to Fortinet, the cloud’s most important advantage is that it can deploy, manage, and host mission-critical applications faster than with any other method.
At the same time, employees and customers gain access to critical information in real-time - wherever they are and no matter what device they use. This requires flexible resource management, with the ability to scale and move them, as well as the availability of simple and intuitive applications, with access to data in real-time and with the ability to quickly update following constantly changing trends.
The same is true for internal workflows on different devices and in different clouds, which must be highly accessible, flexible and responsive to support critical functions and transactions.
Thus, it is possible to highlight the following advantages regarding the security of cloud storage.
You choose how often to backup data. There is a paid backup procedure in cloud storage if you want to make copies more often than provided by the service. Define a schedule, and all data in the cloud will be automatically copied at specified intervals.
Hardware Failure Independence
For a cloud server, the problem of component breakdown is not relevant. In the centers of data storage and processing (DPC), where the virtual infrastructure is deployed, a multi-level reservation of computing resources is planned.
Failures can occur, but they do not carry the fatal problems specific to physical servers. Malfunctions are resolved faster than using a local server due to redundancy and specialized personnel.
Security of the Client’s Virtual Environment
This is one of the basic elements on which the cloud provider business is based. Cloud infrastructure providers provide security at their level (isolation of networks and user infrastructures, logging of administrators, backups, etc., but the provider usually does not have access to applications and user data. If the user uses the IaaS platform (infrastructure as a service) or PaaS (platform as a service) at the application level, the user must ensure data security on his own, and in the case of SaaS, the cloud provider must guarantee security.
The cloud provider invests significant resources in the development of data protection and security systems. This can include both software products and hardware, as well as the operational control of IT professionals over the functioning of the cloud.
Responsibility of the Provider before the Client’s Company
This is regulated by the Service Level Agreement (SLA), as well as the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), which determines how and what access to the client’s data the provider can get, depending on the situation, what penalties are applied in case of violations.
Cloud Security Risks and Disadvantages to Take into Account
Like any other, relatively innovative technology, cloud storage cannot be completely secure. It also has the gaps described below.
Violations from Other Users of the Cloud
Physical control of the equipment goes to the service provider, and many customers share the physical resources of the cloud. If one user commits illegal actions and part of the equipment is withdrawn, then his "neighbors" in the cloud can also be blocked and lose their information.
Tip. The cluster solution of the provider should allow the transfer of client power to the backup equipment in case the primary is unavailable.
Insufficient Security of Internet Channels
Interaction with the cloud occurs through Internet channels, which, without proper protection, can also pose a potential threat to the security of the company.
This means that attackers can intercept a web session or steal passwords to access cloud management systems. There is also a high risk that the provider does not use sufficiently reliable authentication systems and access rights policy management, which also negatively affects the level of security.
Tip. Use secure connections along the entire route between your computer and the provider's data center.
As already noted, when the client uses the infrastructure as a service, he receives an unlimited number of resources with the ability to flexibly manage them. However, with significant loads, some users may experience a drop in performance or inaccessibility of services. Often, this situation is caused by errors in the mechanisms of resource allocation, their improper planning or small investments in equipment. For a client’s company, this means direct financial losses due to downtime and unavailability of services.
Tip. Check with the provider for the upper limit of resources and the speed of their allocation. Better yet, choose the market-leading providers that have the stated resources.
Economic Impact of a DoS Attack
Another threat that is characteristic only for clouds is the economic effect of a DoS attack. It is the flip side of the benefits of cloud computing when you pay only for actual consumption.
When this attack is implemented, the volume of outgoing Internet traffic increases tremendously due to an increase in the number of requests to the client's server. As a result, the client will be required to pay it in full.
Unexpected but Most Serious Security Risk
World experience shows that internal security risks began to prevail over external ones. Now the main source of threats to the company's IT systems is not hackers or malware at all, but the company's employees.
Leaks can be caused both by unintentional, erroneous actions, and deliberate wrecking by staff. For example, it could be selling information to competitors, seizing confidential information, or sabotaging administrative security policies. This trend is confirmed by numerous studies around the world.
Here is the simplest example. Any employee’s device can store some commercial information that he or she used to work, but no one can track the life path and the number of copies of this data. No one can guarantee that this data will not be lost or received by third parties, for example, if the device is stolen.
How to Secure Your Data in the Cloud
Customers often doubt not only the security of cloud services but also their reliability. And the main criterion for choosing is trust in the provider.
Attracted by higher reliability of the service, predictability of contractors, intelligibility of SLA and legislation, lower risks, most companies prefer world-renowned providers who are already responsible, for example, to ensure the required level of data availability.
Of course, Microsoft and Amazon are leading cloud providers. And they have already developed algorithms and credential management tools that provide legitimate access to sensitive data, being protected from intruders.
But if you do not trust the cloud service provider or want to provide additional protection for information in the cloud, then data encryption in the cloud should be used. This method of protection is possible if you do not plan to process information in the cloud (for example, edit a photo or text), but only store and transfer data in its original form.
In this case, it is necessary to take into account the difficulties with the distribution and management of cryptographic keys (especially for large organizations) and the loss in mobility. To access the data, your device must have an up-to-date cryptographic key stored securely, and technical or technological problems may arise with this.
We also recommend that you familiarize yourself with the guides developed by the Cloud Security Alliance. This is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to help businesses implement and use cloud technologies in the most secure and efficient way.
Advanced information technologies today often play a major role in the success of a company. The speed with which a business reacts to market changes should be the highest and outperform competitors. Its profitability and success directly depend on this.
Therefore, the problems of cloud technologies today are widely discussed and resolved. Experts argue that there are several tools and capabilities that will allow you to use the full power of cloud technologies, despite their shortcomings.
The concept of cloud technologies is really important, as it can become a turning point in doing business and bring it to a whole new level, which means generating revenue not only for company owners but also for the state.
About the Author
Cynthia Young loves taking every opportunity to share her knowledge with others. Along with digital marketing, Cynthia is also passionate about personal growth and wellness. When she isn’t writing, she can be found hiking with her dog, cooking Thai cuisine, and enjoying hi-tech thrillers. Also she works in the thewordpoint.com