There is no disputing the fact that Cloud computing is on the rise. Regardless of myths and rumors, Cloud computing is steadily becoming a more viable for various applications and uses. As such, the Cloud works by using the Internet for the storage and transmission of voice, data, and video. In doing so, adoption typically allows for cost efficiency, increased productivity, greater mobility, better interconnectivity of users, improved accessibility and flexibility, and more. That being said, it is not surprising to see more and more users, as well as companies (throughout various industries) both adopt and implement the platform. For example, companies like Apple (iCloud), Google (Google Drive), Cisco (WebEx Collaboration), and Sony (Playstation 4) have or plan to utilize the cloud to further their offerings. Though the cloud can be a highly effective tool, there are some disadvantages that hold the platform from even wider adoption. Chief among these potential detriments is security.
As stated above, the cloud moves data across the Internet, networks, and various mobile and wireless devices. In doing so, users’ systems become more susceptible to data breaches and hacks. This can be due to a number of factors including insecure interfaces, data loss or leakage, as well as account/service hijacking. While security has gotten better, it is still a primary concern of those considering adoption; however, though these threats are real, and should not be taken lightly, they should not wholly deter users away from Cloud usage. Instead, they should inform users. Currently, there are a number of methods available to beef up users’ cloud security. Though some are more effective than others, each is sure to fortify users’ platforms.
Users should be familiar with the ins and outs of their system. If they are, they are better able and prepared to prevent, scan, identify, assess, and combat security threats. Inversely, if a user is unfamiliar with their system, it is less likely that they will be able to act on any impending threats. Monitoring the security of your cloud is different from that of operations/performance. While security monitoring is less advanced as its performance counterpart, it can still be an effective tool. Monitoring is ultimately the user’s responsibility; therefore, users should stay actively engaged with their systems. Additionally, there are a variety of monitoring options available, each with different tools and focuses. In selecting one for their system users should be sure their solution is inclusive—i.e. software assessment, configuration security monitoring, server account admin, authentications, etc.
More tactic than tool, knowledge base and familiarity are not dissimilar from monitoring. As users must actively engage their systems to better understand its workings, it would serve one well to examine other models and categories too. There is more than one type of cloud; there is Public, Private, and Hybrid. That being said, users should research the functionality, limitations, benefits, and disadvantages of each before selecting one. In doing so, they will be able to select the best option for your intended use. Additionally, they will be better able to monitor as they will know the general workings of the platform.
Regardless of how well users monitor their systems, if one does not implore encryptions with their data, they are doomed to have a security breach. Encryption refers to the process of reappropriating information/data stored, processed, and transferred through networks, the Internet and mobile and wireless devices in order to keep it from prying eyes. In doing so, it typically converts clear text data into cyphertext—which cannot be accessed via unauthorized persons. Aside from this, there are a variety of encryption methods available.
For example, Tokenization, which replaces sensitive field data (i.e. credit/debit card number, social security number, etc.) with an alternate data called a token. This method is preemptive and is effective when users take a data centric protection approach—meaning information is secured before moving it into the cloud. For example, an admin encrypts all backup data before moving it into the storage cloud.
While it is useful to learn from mistakes, it is not always the best route. This is especially true with the Cloud platform. Users will likely store, transfer, and receive a ton of personal information in using the cloud. That said, even the slightest breach of security can be disastrous. Security failures can be caused from ignorance, inexperience, and/or ineptitude, While Knowledgebase and Familiarity work to reduce ignorance, and Monitoring remedies inexperience, how can users counteract ineptitude? The answer is checklists. It is extremely common for easy tasks to get compounded into something else. As users then work to overcome new issues, they may forget to monitor pre-existing ones. Checklists can help users effectively secure their system. By making a log of all the necessary steps, redundancies, procedures, etc. users are more apt to maintain quality security.
As mentioned above, security vulnerabilities, as well as other mistakes, are often a result of human blunders—i.e. inexperience, ignorance, etc. That being said, users may want to seek out automation as it automatically improves security. Cloud ecosystems are very complex; therefore, manual configuration can be outrageously time consuming, harrowing, and expensive. With that in mind, there are a number of automated provisioning tools that are not only more cost and time efficient, but effectively prevent variances that lead to security vulnerabilities and breaches. Automations can work two-fold as they can help admins to better control security settings—meaning users’ systems would be more effectively monitored.
Structure—i.e. the layout and configuration of a cloud can affect how accessible the platform is.
While there is a variety of security practices available to users, the above are straightforward, quick, and effective solutions. Again, some may be more effective than others; however, each definitely has a role to play in the overall security of users’ cloud platforms.
By Michael Ventimiglia
Managing Editor at http://getvoip.com – complete guide to VoIP service comparisons and provider reviews.