With more stories in the news about companies having their computers hacked and customer information stolen, the subject of cloud security has become a much higher priority for businesses, organizations, and government institutions around the world.
What is Cloud Security?
Essentially, cloud security is a set of control based policies and technologies that are created to meet the guidelines and compliance rules of the company in order to protect the information that is present. That includes infrastructure and data applications that are all associated with the use of cloud computing.
Unlike traditional servers which generally house all the information used by the website on one computer, the cloud system uses several computers much like the brain uses its different areas to pull together and communication with each other to hold even more information. The advantages of the cloud are considerable starting with the fact that a breakdown of a single server does not mean that the cloud shuts down. In fact, it would take a major catastrophe of unlikely proportions to shut down the entire cloud.
The Current Risks to Cloud Security
The very nature of the cloud with accessing different servers at the same time is both a boon to its overall computing potential and a curse in terms of keeping the information secure. This is because a cloud system simply has more access points than a single server which means that there are more places for hackers to enter and access the information.
In addition, the very size of a cloud system means that it is possible for several servers to be affected if a virus is implanted. It is possible that a cascade effect may occur which creates a far larger issue compared to a single server being knocked out. However, it should be noted that all of the vulnerabilities to the cloud system is predicated on actually being able to access the information. Unless the hackers or viruses they use get past the security defenses, the information inside the cloud is generally safe.
Why is Cloud Security such a Big Challenge?
The big challenge lies in the very structure of the cloud itself as what provides it with the great advantages being offered are also the weak point when it comes to its own security. An organization that uses a single server is limited by the computing power and storage space that the server provides. However, it also has physical access to the information stored inside unlike a cloud system where it is spread among several servers.
This basically means that cloud security must deal with the threats of outside hackers, viruses, and insiders who use their own passwords to get inside and steal the information. This means that monitoring the cloud can be challenging, particularly when it comes to catching insiders taking sensitive or confidential information. This is why all employees should undergo background checks for those who have direct access to the servers themselves.
Because of the very nature of the cloud system, it is possible that someone on the outside can view private data that belongs to other users. However, the data isolation techniques and storage separation that is found within cloud systems generally prevents this from happening.
How Secure is Cloud Computing?
Despite all the potential dangers, security for cloud computing is very close to being as strong as traditional server systems. In fact, it can be argued that the advantages of the cloud system overcome whatever small weaknesses that might be found in terms of security. The main reason is the very nature of the cloud which spreads the information over a network of servers rather than storing it all on one unit.
Another potential issue is the use of what is known as virtualization which offers another set of security concerns for cloud computing. This affects the relationship between the OS and the underlying hardware for storage, networking, and computing. By adding the additional layer of virtualization, it can cause issues if it doesn’t properly fit the system. However, it should be noted that such vulnerabilities to the virtualization process are still theoretical in nature.
Latest Trends in Cloud Security
Since hackers are using new techniques to break through cloud security protocols, so too are those who write new security programs using new methods to protect the information inside.
Altering Threat Vectors: With more companies using cloud computing, the threat vectors are now going to the cloud at more than quadruple the rate. The attacks are now shifting to the cloud applications which are where more of the security is now going.
Emphasis on Security Service: Since there is more concern about security, one change is how companies are now emphasizing their new security measures just as much as the abilities of the cloud systems.
New, Sophisticated Hackers: The days of the independent hacker sitting alone in his or her room are moving aside to more sophisticated groups that work together. This has helped to speed up the response by cloud security that is now designed to act more quickly at the first sign of trouble rather than wait to see how it develops.
Lack of Uniformity in Cloud Regulations: Countries around the world do not share the same type of security protocols which makes the US for example far ahead in terms of adapting the cloud systems while some European countries are using other methods such as spying or protecting privacy as their emphasis. This means that for the foreseeable future there is a fracturing of cloud security depending on the countries where the servers are kept.
Overall, the renewed emphasis on cloud security has meant the spread of this technology even further with businesses and the general public. While there are still great challenges to protecting the information stored on the cloud, the advantages that this particular system brings are considerable. For the foreseeable future, cloud security procedures will continue to evolve and adapt to the different dangers as presented by hackers, computer viruses, and insiders looking to steal information.