Cloud Security Essentials

More and more businesses are switching to the Cloud to store their data and rightly so. The Cloud offers numerous benefits over the traditional, physical on-site server, however it also comes with it’s own potential issues. Follow along as we explore Cloud Security Essentials in the article below.

Over the last several years, cloud technology has become more advanced, secure, and user friendly. It’s likely that you are already using it for extra storage space on your mobile devices, or to be able to transfer documents to and from your office so that you can work on-the-go. While these are more of a common place use for this technology, the cloud also offers robust capabilities for small business and enterprises. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of moving your business data to a cloud storage solution:

  • Anytime, anywhere access to your data: Information in the cloud can be accessed from anywhere using an internet connection, unlike in the case of traditional servers, where you need a physical connection to the data.
  • Significant cost savings: You can drastically cut hardware costs because you are not investing in physical storage devices.
  • Shared storage means more cost savings: The cloud lets you share space with others while maintaining a secure environment in general. It follows a ‘pay-as-you-use’ approach to data storage allowing you to enjoy the cost savings based on your data storage needs, unlike the traditional options where you had to pay for and purchase a whole new server if your data storage needs exceeded the existing capacity.
  • SaaS compatibility and support: The cloud allows the use of Software-as-a-Service since applications can now be hosted in the cloud.
  • Scalability: The cloud allows you to scale up and down as your business and data needs changes.
  • 24/7 monitoring, support, and greater access reliability: When your data is in the cloud, the cloud service provider is responsible for keeping it safe and ensuring it is securely accessible at all times. They monitor the cloud’s performance and in the event of any issues, they provide immediate tech support to resolve the problem.

Is The Cloud Really Risk-Free?

While all the above-mentioned factors make the cloud a very attractive choice, especially for SMBs who don’t want to be burdened with higher in-house IT costs, putting your data in the cloud is not entirely risk-free. Just as storing data on physical servers has its security threats, the cloud presents certain security concerns as well. These can include:

  • Data Breach: A data breach is when your data is accessed by someone who is not an authorized member of your organization.
  • Data Loss: A data loss is a situation where your data in the cloud is destroyed due to certain circumstances such as technological failure or neglect during any stage of data processing or storage.
  • Account Hijacking: Like traditional servers, data in the cloud could be stolen through account hijacking as well. In fact, cloud hijacking is predominantly deployed in cyber crimes that require identity thefts and wrongful inspection.
  • Service Traffic Hijacking: In a service traffic hijacking event, your attacker first gains access to your credentials, uses it to understand the online activities that happen in your domain and then uses the information to mislead your users or domain visitors to malicious sites.
  • Insecure Application Program Interfaces (APIs): Sometimes, cloud APIs, when opened up to third parties, can be a huge security threat. If the API keys are not properly secured, it can serve as an entry point for cyber criminals and malicious elements.
  • Poor Choice of Cloud Storage Providers: A security lapse from the cloud storage provider’s end is a huge security concern for businesses. It is very important to choose a trusted and experienced cloud service provider who knows what they are doing.

Apart from the above, there are some common threats that apply to both the cloud and traditional data storage environments such as DDoS attacks, or a malware attack where your data in the cloud becomes susceptible because it is being shared with others or in other places.

3 Key Steps To Protecting Your Data

  • Secure Access: The first step would be to secure access to your data in the cloud. So how do you go about it? First things first, safeguard your login credentials – your IDs and Passwords – from prying eyes. Enforce strong password policies company wide and educate your employees about good password hygiene. Also, if you have employees using their own devices to access work-related documents or application, or if you have staff working from home, you also need to formulate strong BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) policies so that these devices do not become an entry point to cyber criminals.
  • Educate Your Employees: What’s the first thing that pops into your head when someone talks about cyber crime? Most likely you picture an unknown person, a tech-wizard of sorts, sitting behind a computer in a dark room trying to steal your data. But, as surprising as it may seem, the first and probably the biggest threat to your data and IT security in general comes from your employees! Malicious employees may harm your company on purpose by stealing or destroying data, but oftentimes, employees unwittingly become accomplices to cyber crime. Some examples include:
    • Forwarding an email with an attachment that contains a virus
    • Clicking on a phishing link unknowingly and entering sensitive information
    • Compromising on security when they share passwords or connect to an unsecured/open Wi-Fi network at public places such as the mall or airport

A lot of the time cyber security breaches happen when employees function with a feeling to ‘get things done faster,’ but, without realizing how disastrous the implications of such actions can be.

  • Choosing The Right Cloud Service Provider: If you are putting your data in the cloud, you need to make sure that it is in safe hands. As such, it is your cloud services provider’s responsibility to ensure your data is secure and accessible. But, are they doing all that is needed to ensure this happens? It is very important to choose a trustworthy cloud service provider because you are essentially handing all of your data over to them. So, apart from strengthening your own defenses, you need to check how well-prepared they are to avert the threats posed by cyber criminals.

Cloud Security Mechanisms

  • Cloud Firewalls: Much like the firewalls you deploy for your local IT network, cloud firewalls work to prevent unauthorized cloud network access.
  • Penetration Testing: Penetration testing is a type of cloud security check where IT experts try hacking into the cloud network to figure out if there are any security lapses or vulnerabilities that could allow easy access for cyber criminals.
  • Obfuscation: In obfuscation, the data or program code is obscured on purpose such that the system delivers unclear code to anyone other than the original programmers, thus mitigating any malicious activity.
  • Tokenization: Tokenization is the process of replacing sensitive data with unique identification symbols that retain all of the essential information about the data without compromising its security.
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPN): Another, more commonly used mechanism is the VPN. VPN creates a safe passage for data over the cloud through end-to-end encryption methodology.

Investing in a good cloud security is a must, but, in the end, you also need to remember that cloud security is not only about antivirus software, firewalls, and other anti-malware tools. Complete cloud security is a blend of all these plus internal policies, best practices, and regulations related to IT security, and of course, the MSP you choose to be your cloud security provider plays a key role in all of this. You need to pick the right MSP and work closely with them to implement a cloud security solution that is best for you.

Unique Computing Solutions has been a strategic Managed Service Provider (MSP) to clients, organizations and businesses of all shapes and sizes for over 20 years and we’re confident we can provide Cloud Storage and Cyber Security Solutions that exceed your needs while remaining affordable on any budget. To learn more about our whole suite of services and support offerings, please visit our site: