The Risks Of Moving To The Cloud
In the current global economic climate, companies and enterprises are required to migrate to cloud-based deployment models in order reduce costs and become self-sustainable. Post the dot-com bubble, the development of advanced web and storage technologies has been on the ascension. One such revolutionary technology developed post the dot-com era is cloud Computing, which focuses on the deliverance of computing services over the Internet. The highlight characteristic of cloud computing technologies is that they bring about system independence, multi-tenancy, scalability, virtualization, and more. Due to these benefits, companies and organizations are keen on migrating to cloud computing platforms.
Security is a prime area of concern for businesses when planning to migrate to cloud based services, along with other concerns such as reliability and integrating capability with existing IT infrastructure. There are already numerous assertions made by major technology companies regarding the rise of cloud-based deployments. In a recent conference, Cisco stated that it will be a tedious task to monitor data transferred to and from the cloud. On the flip side, renowned cloud service providers like Salesforce.com and Amazon Web Services state that the fears regarding security risks in cloud-based models are sort of overblown.
Based on the requirement and business niche, businesses can choose from four types of cloud deployment models: Public cloud, Community cloud, Hybrid cloud, and Private cloud. A recent study disclosed that in the next four years about 50% of existing small and medium-sized businesses will shift to cloud-based deployment models. Though the security risks pertaining to cloud-based services are yet to be documented, it is wise for businesses to be aware of the impending security breaches that the cloud-based models are prone to. Some of the well-known security risks that cloud-based models bring about are long-term viability, data segregation & location, data recovery, regulatory compliance, and privileged user access.
Cloud-based service users have reported several glitches and failures, while using the cloud. A recent test conducted by a security firm revealed that almost half of all the cloud-based software services flunked the prescribed security level. Moreover, the quality of existing cloud-based applications for business critical domains did not meet the prescribed high security level, and it is reported that cross-scripting errors are the cause of close to 50% of all vulnerabilities. There are two perspectives to security risks on a cloud, one is a provider perspective and another is the user perspective. I have aggregated below the most common security risks from both perspectives.
- Assess the level of access that the service provider has to your cloud. Before selecting a cloud-based service provider, evaluate and set the level of control in the service level agreement.
- Multi-tenancy is one of the inherent characteristics of a cloud-based deployment. As a result, there is a high risk of mechanism failures due to routing and lack of storage separation.
- Industry regulatory requirements for certain certifications are exposed to security breaches as a result of migrating to the cloud. For this purpose, it is mandatory for cloud service providers to provide compliance and allow customers to audit their cloud-based deployments.
- For businesses seeking to set up public clouds, they are prone to exposing their customer access points and interfaces through the web. This risk is even higher, when combining the vulnerabilities of remote access and web browsers.
- Data protection is one of the prime security risks that come along with cloud-based deployment models. In certain cases, it is hard for a user to check the data management practices of a cloud service provider.
- As cloud-based deployment models have large amounts of data in transit between the remote system and cloud infrastructure, there is need for virtual private network like secure connection to increase the credibility. VPNs ensure secure data transfer, while safeguarding the network from spoofing, side channel cyber attacks and other kinds of network attacks.
- Data deletion is not guaranteed. If you want to delete a data on a cloud, it is uncertain that whether or not data is clearly wiped out or can be recovered. It is understood that in certain cases additional copies are stored, but cannot be deleted as the disk to be formatted also stores other data.
In conclusion, the security risks of moving to cloud-based models are high, but can be minimized by adopting certain strategies. In order to allay the fears of security risks, businesses are required to evaluate risk mitigation strategies and de-risking strategies. After migrating to cloud-based deployments, it is essential for businesses to engage in active risk management and spend time monitoring the cloud.
By Carlene Masker
Carlene Masker is a technology enthusiast who is fond of writing helpful tips and fresh tidbits of information about the different fields in technology and innovation. She is currently working with Telco Services where you can find the latest information on Verizon FiOS deals.