Data Integrity, Data Resilience and Data Security
Given the recent rise in popularity of cloud-based solutions, it is not surprising that there is a concern in the minds of many people regarding the security of their data.
This is safeguarding the data against:
- Unauthorized access
- Data corruption or loss
- Hardware failure
In reality, you will use much of the same precautions for cloud-based solutions as you would for a solution running in a corporate datacentre.
When you are running an application on a server, you normally configure a suitable backup routine so that it is safe in the event of a data-loss incident. It does not matter if this is a corrupt entry in a database file, deletion of user data or even a more disastrous data loss due to a fire or theft. Usually, the data will backup to portable media on a regular basis which will then be stored in an off-site location.
If you migrate an application to a cloud-based provider, it is important to consider how to backup the data. This can be to traditional backup media which will need storing off-site, or you can take advantage of the physically-diverse locations to store the backups in a completely different place. Your backup schedule and how long backups are kept will be a trade-off between the critical of the data and any legislative requirements against the associated costs.
Another important aspect to consider is the testing of the backup process. For an important system, you should aim to run a disaster recovery test on a regular basis. For this, you should aim to restore a fully working copy of your system from a recent backup. Luckily with a cloud solution, this process can occur a lot quicker than it would in a traditional datacentre environment.
For a local system, you might look into using multiple resilient servers configured as part of a cluster. With modern clustering technology these can be locating in physically diverse datacentres. If you lose a server, or even a datacentre, the entire system will fail over to the other servers and the users will hardly notice a thing.
With a cloud-based application, this resilience is automatically built-in. By hosting your application on the cloud it is completely unaffected by the loss of a physical device or location.
Data security is a hot-topic at the moment. Any unauthorized access can result in embarrassment for your business and even loss of money though theft. As always when it comes to security, limit access only to those people that specifically need access to the data or application. One of the worst mistakes that you can make is to relax access to your data and allow too many people in. It is also good practice to check the access on a regular basis and remove any users who no longer need access to the data.
You should always check with your hosting company that their servers and applications have a regular patch schedule to ensure that any discovered security flaws in the software are fixed. This is particularly important when your application runs on a Windows platform.
Even with the best policies and technical experts, there are still security holes that can slip through the gap. A regular security audit and penetration test will help to find and fill any of these holes, before the hackers do.
The principles behind data security in a cloud-based environment are no different from any other kind of hosting. Make sure that you set up you procedures correctly from the outset and perform regular audits of these procedures and will have covered yourself as much as you possible can.
Image Source: Evron
By Dave Schofield
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