Cloud Security: Is it Worth it? | Hacker Noon

Storing and managing corporate data by applying the cloud is becoming more and more popular. Companies grow, and it gets too expensive, and resources consuming to store their data on traditional servers. To prove it, look at the research conducted by Google in 2019 that includes insights for the cloud computing market for the next 10 years.

Around 80% of US respondents (about 1,100 businesses participated) revealed that they are thinking about cloud adoption by 2029. In 2019, only about 40% made a switch. 72% of businesses state that they’d like to automate security solutions by 2029, while now only 33% actually do it.

What do these numbers tell us? That companies seem to be suspicious about cloud security and prefer traditional on-premises data storage to the cloud environment. Why are they afraid to entrust cloud providers with their data? What to do to get rid of this fear? How to prove that the future of security is after the cloud?

In our article, we aim to answer these questions and more, but first, you need to be able to identify the reasons why companies have cloud-related trust issues. The first step in eliminating a problem is identifying it, let’s do it together!

What are Security Issues on Cloud all About?

All company data is sensitive and fragile if not secured properly. Thus, in March 2020, the data of about 5 million guests of Marriott was breached by an unknown hacker. It was possible to do since this person had stolen the credentials of a couple of Marriott employees. 

Another scandal related to cloud security risks happened in LifeLabs in 2019, a major medical testing company in Canada. 40% of the country’s population suffered from stealing their medical data by cybercriminals. This was due to poor data encryption practices and unreliable servers.

The examples of Marriott and LifeLabs show us that anyone can be exposed to cyber threats and this puts company data at risk even if they opt for cloud computing security. Companies that own sensitive data such as banks, governments, and healthcare institutions, don’t want to take a chance with data security in cloud computing because of the breaches we just mentioned.

Nevertheless, have you heard about the Azure cloud data security adoption by the Pentagon? Their $10 billion deal means something in the digital cloud world. The question is: “If the Pentagon trusts the cloud with its data, why can’t I?” Exactly.

Can Third-Party Companies Steal Your Data if You’re on The Cloud?

If The Pentagon’s data storing strategy hasn’t answered this question already, let me dispel the myths behind cloud computing that many people still believe. If Marriott had employed multi-factor authentication (read up to learn more about it) the breach may never have even happened.

Secondly, if you opt for a hybrid or public cloud, other companies won’t be able to access your data just because you’re using the same cloud. AWS and Azure provide their customers with identity & access management tools, such as AWS IAM, AWS Resource Access Manager, AWS Directory Service, etc., and Key Vault, Azure Sentinel, Security Center, etc. respectively.

If you’re still wondering about how secure the cloud is, how about the signing of HIPPA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) by cloud providers? This means that they are forbidden by law to share personal healthcare data. So, hospitals, clinics, and other medical institutions can already jump onboard the cloud computing train without fear.

Security for cloud computing also depends a lot on GDPR compliance. This law adopted by the EU presupposes the proper protection of personal data. It means that all the risks imposed by third parties must be eliminated and properly dealt with. 

GxP guidelines and regulations are your best friends if you’re on the cloud as well. These rules make sure that providers meet customer needs and do what they initially promised. Both AWS and Azure are GxP compatible. 

Cloud Security Approaches that Provide You with Full Data Protection

To provide security in cloud computing and prevent any potential breaches, cloud providers like AWS and Azure use a step-by-step protection strategy that involves the following components:

Data encryption

Data encryption has been used for decades. This approach means making the data impossible to read for intruders. To do this, Microsoft and Amazon clouds use encryption keys that will later be managed by tools like Azure Key Vault and AWS Secrets Manager.

To decrypt or access your corporate info, you’ll need a key or several keys. If a hacker gets to the key somehow, the system employs data security in the cloud methods like the cloud access schedule, IP-address analysis, and SSL-usage probability (if a hacker is using a cryptographic protocol).

Antivirus software

Malicious attacks and cyber threats are real, and someone has to watch over your device to fight them. Your data is not only being controlled by this antivirus software but also 100% protected since any virus gets killed within seconds.

The most common software for securing the cloud includes Fortinet FortiGate Next-Generation Firewall, Trend Micro Cloud One, Antivirus for Amazon S3, VirusScan for Amazon S3, Windows Defender, Microsoft System Center Endpoint Protection, and many others.

Two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is another way to see how safe the cloud is. Before accessing any corporate data on the cloud, the system requires you to provide identification documents or come up with answers to security questions like your first pet’s name to ensure that it’s really you.

It could be compared to withdrawing funds at an ATM or bank. The former would ask you to type in a PIN code only you know, while the latter can ask for your signature and show identification documents to give you your money. It’s simple yet secure. Thus, this approach to data safety is one of the cloud security advantages.

Back-up solutions

It’s like making a set of keys and giving it to your entrusted neighbor. In the case that you lose your keys, your neighbor is always there for you to give you the spare. Cloud providers make a reserve copy of your data to calm your nerves. Back-up options belong to the general security advantages of cloud-based solutions.

Amazon Web Services has a service called Glacier that does this job for an additional fee. Azure, on the other hand, has Blob Storage which is the direct competitor to Glacier. They do the same things, and you pay only for the time you used them. No more, no less.

Security Advantages of Cloud Computing

1. No need to hire a team of cybersecurity professionals

AWS and Azure cloud computing solutions offer a variety of tools and services to secure your data and prevent its loss. Instead of spending $80,000 a year per worker (you’ll need 2-5 of them), you pay that amount or even less for special tools that do the same things.

You don’t have to be an expert in data security to check any safety service on the cloud and see what’s happening there. The intuitive design of the apps lets you dive into statistics and find what you want in no time.

2. Automation

Once you’ve paid for data security solutions, you don’t need to control them 24/7. Everything works without the need for interference. The viruses are being fought, while encryption keys are being guarded and protected. Also, when your provider launches a new update, it immediately gets installed.

The ease and transparency are the most essential benefits of cloud computing security. Your applications work just like before, and your data is stored according to the most reliable standards like HIPPA or GDPR. 

3. Cost-effectiveness

A good thing to know about the cloud is that you pay only if you use a particular security tool. Using the Azure pricing calculator or AWS pricing calculator, you can look through the pricing of security apps. This way, you can check if it meets your budget expectations.

Some cloud providers offer prices per minute of cloud service usage. Thus, you can indicate a certain number of minutes when you’ll need this or that tool and pay roughly for this time.

4. Independence

Your data no longer depends on the location of your on-premises server. No need to hire a bunch of security guards and buy hundreds of surveillance cameras since the cloud already has data loss prevention options and application auditing solutions that perform the same functions. 

Your company doesn’t have to be located in a place where your servers are. You can even fully go online and make your whole teamwork from home. It’s up to you. The freedom of movement is one of the most accessible benefits of cloud security.

5. Data loss prevention

Even if you make a hundred copies of your most precious documents, you’ll have to store them somewhere, which sounds bulky. With cloud implementation, you can forget about this stuff. 

Just apply a special service by your cloud provider that makes reserve copies of your documents and application data. This tool uses all four approaches of safety provision to make sure no one gets too close to your data. No need to buy a new house to store your safes and papers.

AWS vs Azure Data Security Solutions

Conclusion

The security of cloud environments provided by Amazon and Microsoft are already reliable enough to move the data there from servers. You can make sure of it yourself. Using the many multi-factor authentications, data encryption, antivirus software, and backing up options available can reliably protect your corporate information.

If you’re in charge of a banking institution or run a clinic, you can break free from vaults and tons of paper to store the money and patients’ data. Say goodbye to old-fashioned data storage options and opt for the future of data management – the cloud.

Automation, freedom of movement, cost-efficiency, data loss prevention, and all-in-one platform solutions are only a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy on the cloud. Remember, about 80% of Americans already feel the need to put everything on the cloud. Why do you think they’re considering it? Because the future is digital.

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