Technology

Cloud security has become an increasingly important field in IT

November 1, 2022

As more and more businesses move to the cloud computing services, cloud security has become an increasingly important field in IT. There are a number of different cloud security solutions available, and it is important to choose the one that best fits your needs.

Cloud Computing is the best solution to ensure digital agility throughout your business. Transferring your infrastructure, data, and applications from on-premise hardware to the cloud can boost the efficiency of your multi-faceted workforce.

Many businesses have swiftly implemented cloud based solutions in the past two years to allow remote work. However, the rush to migrate could have created more attack areas and resulted in unnecessary acquisitions of technology, unsecure data transfers, and compliance issues. Cloud-based solutions must be considered in your security plan to reap the maximum benefit from reliability, availability, security, and accessibility.

Cloud security can be described as a set of processes and technologies created to combat internal and external threats that threaten the security of businesses. Businesses require cloud security to work towards their digital transformation plan and integrate cloud-based applications and services into their IT infrastructure.

Digital transition and cloud migration have been used in business settings over the last few years. While the two terms may have different meanings to different companies, they are both guided by a common theme: the necessity for change.

As businesses embrace these concepts and work towards optimizing their operations, they face new challenges in balancing the demands of productivity and security. While modern technology helps companies to expand their capabilities beyond the boundaries of their on-premise infrastructure, cloud-based infrastructure can have many consequences if it is not done securely.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing, or "cloud," is commonly used to refer to remote data center resources accessible through the internet. Mainly cloud computing is instant real-time access to data and other computer resources through the internet.

Cloud technologies are comprised of four fundamental elements:

  • Internet-connected hardware, such as tablets, laptops, or mobile devices
  • Broadband Internet connectivity
  • Services that include hardware and software that are accessed on the internet
  • Physical servers that are located remotely, usually hosted in the data center

Although the initial two elements remain your company's responsibility, the last two can be used as a dedicated service, a shared service, or any combination. These deployment models are hybrid, private, and public cloud deployment models.

Service Models of Cloud Computing

Cloud services are platforms, infrastructure, or software hosted by third-party service providers and are accessible to internet users. There are three significant types of as-a-Service services: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Each one facilitates the transfer of user information from the front-end client through the internet into a cloud-based service provider's system and back, but they differ based on the type of service offered.

PaaS

PaaS is the term used to describe that the hardware and application software platform is managed and provided by an external cloud provider; however, the user is responsible for the applications running on the platform and the data it depends on. It is primarily a platform for programmers and developers; PaaS gives users a shared cloud platform that can be used for app development and management (an essential part of the DevOps element) without the need to construct an infrastructure typically involved in the process.

IaaS

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a self-service method to manage remote data infrastructures of data centers. IaaS is a service that provides computing resources virtualized through the internet hosted by a third party like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google.

It's similar to buying electricity. You only pay for the amount you consume. This model lets companies modify, add or delete IT infrastructure for at a-while.

Many IT companies depend on IaaS as they are more acquainted with IaaS, especially if they have long-term experience working with virtual environments or stringent regulations and security specifications that IaaS can only fulfill.

SaaS

SaaS is a comparatively well-informed provider, as the term's usage predates cloud computing. With this model of service, applications use cloud computing to build Software Architecture which means they cut down on the burden of support, operations, and maintenance. This is possible because they operate applications on a vendor's computer instead of the user's computer. The service provides software to users across the internet. Users then purchase it by sign-up for a subscription or using an arrangement of pay-per-use.

Because SaaS is managed through central sites, businesses that use the service do not have to worry about its upkeep. It is an effective tool for CRM and applications requiring extensive mobile or internet access. SaaS is also one of suitable custom cloud solutions for small-scale projects.

Everything as a Service (XaaS)

Also known as or Anything as A Service Also known as Anything as a Service, the XaaS term is a broad word that refers to the wide variety of tools, products, and technologies that are developing as innovative and popular as services.

The growth of these services – and the associated acronyms has reached an extent that directories are now in place to keep track of. Each of these cloud-based service models is a multi-billion-dollar industry. The most well-known cloud services are Desktop as a Service (DaaS), Artificial Intelligence as a Service (AIaaS), and Unified Communications as a Service (UaaS).

Deployment Models for Cloud Computing

Cloud deployment models define the particular type of cloud environment based on scale, ownership, access, and the cloud's purpose and nature. The place of the servers you're using and the person who manages the cloud deployment plan specify these. It defines how your cloud infrastructure will look, the things you can alter, and whether or not you'll receive services or need to build everything from scratch. The cloud deployment types specify the relationships between your infrastructure and your users.

Public Cloud

The public cloud refers to providing computing services via the internet via an outside service. Cloud services offered by the public cloud are accessible to anyone who wishes to use them. They may be free or cost-based for making use of.

In a public cloud deployment, the responsibility for administration and maintenance of the systems lies with the cloud provider. While the public and private cloud architectures may be the same, there could be significant distinctions in security for each cloud configuration.

A public cloud-based deployment model reduces the upfront cost of purchasing, managing, and maintaining technology and hardware infrastructure. It also allows for rapid deployment and nearly infinite capacity due to the huge scale of the public cloud technology providers like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.

Private clouds

Private clouds can be described loosely as cloud environments exclusively designed for a particular user or group behind the user's and group's firewall. Clouds become private when the core IT infrastructure is allocated to a single user without internet access.

Private clouds do not require sourcing from the on-premise IT infrastructure. Companies are creating private clouds using the cloud of rented data centers owned by vendors situated off-premises, making any rules regarding location and ownership obsolete. This has led to several private cloud solutions subtypes. Some of them include the following:

  1. Managed Private Clouds
  2. Dedicated Clouds

Multiclouds

Multiclouds are a cloud consisting of more than one cloud service from more than one cloud vendor – either public or private. Multiclouds are all hybrid clouds; however, they are not necessarily hybrid clouds. Multiclouds are hybrid clouds because multiple clouds have been linked via some orchestration or integration.

A Multicloud system could be created for a reason (to better manage sensitive data or as backup storage for better backup in case of disaster), or it could be created by accident (usually due to the shadow of IT). In either case, multiclouds are becoming more prevalent across companies seeking to enhance performance and security by expanding the range of cloud services available.

Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud is the offering of computing services via the use of a combination of private and public cloud deployments. This kind of deployment permits sharing of data and applications between the two cloud environments.

A hybrid cloud allows you to increase the capacity of your private infrastructure quickly and then move to the public cloud to respond to changes in processing requirements. This allows you to use cloud resources that are not sensitive for computing tasks while ensuring that sensitive business applications are secure inside a private cloud.

Benefits of Cloud Security for Businesses

Cloud security is essential for businesses trying to keep their applications and data safe from malicious actors. Maintaining a solid cloud security system can help companies realize the widely-known advantages that cloud computing can bring. Cloud security has many advantages and can help you save on initial costs, lower ongoing administrative and operational costs and easier scaling, improve reliability and availability, and increase DDoS security.

Here are the best security advantages Cloud computing offers:

Proactive Threat Management

Experienced and knowledgeable cloud architects ensure security is implemented across the many endpoints (access ports devices, devices, and applications). A cloud security solution should have mature procedures, visibility, tracking, and 24/7/365 monitoring. The latest technology can provide active and responsive threat management through a central management hub. Security threats such as DDoS (denial of service) attacks can be stopped through active monitoring and disbursement to limit the risk.

Scalability

Scalable cloud computing can adapt to changes in demand and alter capacities, security coverage, and prices in line with demand. For example, during periods with high activity volumes, servers' capacity increases to prevent server failures. However, once the demand has been reduced, the charges are diminished. Why should we pay for infrastructure even if shifts in demand might result in the underutilization of expensive equipment?

Higher Availability

Cloud computing security services typically include redundant systems, so your application and resources are always available. The CDNs are distributed globally on edge servers that efficiently provide content, improve application performance, and limit server connection. Together, they manage traffic surges in a manner that hardware and on-premises solutions cannot.

Regulatory Compliance

Privacy and data security are the top concerns for those in regulated sectors and consumers. The best cloud security solutions ensure enhanced infrastructure security to ensure compliance and protect personal and financial information.

Top Challenges Associated with Cloud Computing Security

Since the cloud's public nature doesn't have clear perimeters, it presents an entirely different security environment. This is even more difficult when using modern cloud methods like Automated Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) methods, distributed servers, serverless architectures, and available assets like Functions as a Service (FAS) and containers.

A few of the more sophisticated cloud-native security problems and the numerous layers of risk facing companies that are cloud-based today comprise:

Misconfiguration of Assets in the Cloud

One of the largest cloud security risks is caused by human error and is entirely avoidable. Cloud misconfiguration occurs when an administrator or user needs to configure a cloud platform's security settings correctly. For example, an administrator may accidentally grant unrestricted external access, which could cause unprivileged servers and applications to connect. A real-world example of an incorrectly configured cloud service is the Alteryx breach in 2017, in which the internet-based marketing firm leaked data from millions of homes by making a mistake configuring an AWS S3 Bucket.

Despite its preventability, misconfigurations are a severe issue. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of incorrect data exposed through cloud configurations increased by more than 80%, according to a study conducted by DivvyCloud. Alongside data exposure and breaches, misconfigurations could lead to brute force attacks and attacks.

Unauthorized Access

Compared to an organization's on-premises infrastructure, cloud-based services are away from the network perimeter and directly accessible through the internet. Although this is a benefit to making the cloud-based infrastructure for customers and employees, it is much easier for attackers to gain unauthorized access to cloud-based resources. 

External Sharing of Data

The cloud was designed to make sharing data simple. Many cloud providers allow users to invite a collaborator explicitly via email or share a link that allows anyone with the URL to access the shared resource.

Although this simple data sharing is an excellent benefit, it could be a significant security risk. Link-based sharing - a standard option because it's less time-consuming than inviting each collaborator - can make managing access to shared resources difficult. The shared link may be shared with someone else or even stolen in cyberattacks or misinterpreted by a hacker, granting unauthorized access to the resource. Furthermore, sharing via a link can be challenging to deprive access to only one user of sharing the link.

Why Has Cloud Security Become an Important Factor in IT Sector?

In modern enterprises, there is an increase in cloud-based systems along with IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS computing models. The rapid nature of managing infrastructure, particularly in scaling applications and services, could pose various issues for enterprises when they can adequately resource their departments. As-a-service models provide organizations with the opportunity to delegate a lot of tedious, IT-related tasks.

As more companies migrate to the cloud, knowing the security requirements to keep secure data is becoming more critical. While cloud computing companies that are third parties could be responsible for the management of the cloud infrastructure, responsibility for the security and accountability of data assets is the same with it.

As a rule, cloud providers adhere to the best security procedures and take proactive steps to ensure their server's integrity. However, businesses must make their own decisions in securing cloud servers' data, applications, and workloads.

Security threats are becoming more sophisticated because cyberspace continues to grow. They specifically attack cloud computing companies due to the general lack of transparency regarding the movement and access of data. Suppose they need to take active measures to enhance their cloud security. In that case, companies could be exposed to substantial governance and compliance risks when managing client data, regardless of where it's stored.

Cloud security is an essential subject of discussion, whatever the size and scope of your business. Cloud infrastructure can support nearly every aspect of modern computing across industries and sectors.

However, the success of cloud adoption depends on implementing the proper safeguards against modern-day cyber-attacks. Whether your business is in a public, hybrid, or private cloud setting, secure cloud tools, and best practices are vital to ensure business continuity.

The Key Takeaway

While many organizations still believe that hardware-based and on-premise security provides more security, the reality is the reverse. The advantages of cloud backup solutions for small business demonstrate how cloud security gives you an advantage over security on the premises. Select the best cloud service provider to ensure your security is enhanced for the cloud-hosted assets.

Cloud security isn't just an IT issue but plays a crucial role in your overall business plan. Therefore, thoughtful cloud security plans should begin by inviting the CEO to bring experts from the cloud to the table. Companies that plan to manage multiple environments should improve their IT departments with the assistance of an MSP skilled in delivering effective cloud-based security solutions.

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