Challenges and possibilities in Cloud Security

Cloud computing offers businesses with a wide variety of irresistible benefits. From dirt-cheap prices to limitless scalability, there are a myriad of reasons why businesses are moving to the cloud.

A study by Ponemon estimates that at least 31% of businesses will be moving to the cloud in the next 12 to 24 months.

However, cloud hosting like any other hosting models is prone to security threats. Even after a close to a decade of cloud becoming a favorite for hosting, security continues to remain a serious concern.

Here are some challenges and possibilities that businesses have to be aware of Cloud Security to keep their data and their servers intact.

Data leaks

Although virtual, cloud environment shares the same security threats that is inherent to physical environments. The extent of damage will include financial loss, theft of personal information like health, copyrights, patents, trademarks and similar intellectual property. In the event of a data breach, the business will have to incur fines or penalties for not taking adequate measures to safeguard user data.

Weak passwords

21% of people still use passwords that were created 10 years ago.

3 out of 10 people use publicly available personal information like their birth date and first name as password.

Only one unique password is created for every new 4 online accounts a user creates.

These statistics hint how bad the password scenario is in the cyber world. Even in the cloud environment users do not take adequate precautions to set strong passwords that cannot be easily guessed or cracked.

The biggest challenge of cloud security is weak passwords. A vast majority of data breaches are executed by exploiting vulnerabilities like weak passwords and unguarded accounts.

Mobile API exposure

Almost every cloud offering of today comes with mobile APIs. unlike their web-front counterparts, mobile APIs lack rock-solid security infrastructure. In some cases, the APIs have serious vulnerabilities that can be hacked into by hackers thus giving complete access into the system. While cloud-enabled enterprise mobility is a must, businesses also have to face the challenge of mobile API security exposure.

User account hijacking

Phishing, online frauds, brute force attacks, etc. hijack user accounts. Cloud with its anytime, anywhere accessibility also creates the risk of eavesdropping, data manipulation or transaction manipulation.

Security measures to protect the cloud

While there are inherent challenges to face in the cloud environment, cloud security is not hopeless as such. There are plenty of ways to secure the cloud with security provisions without letting go of the benefits that it provides.

SSL Encryption

Secured Sockets Layer, also known as Transport Security Layer (TLS) secures the exchange of data between two sources – namely, the web browser and the server. It encrypts the data sent from one source to another.

The encryption ensures the data is not completely interceptable by the hacker. The connection is kept secure from eavesdropping this ensuring safe transfer of information to and from between the sender and the recipient.

SSL encryptions works perfectly with websites that run on modern browsers. The HTTPS prefix provided to SSL certificates enabled websites also go a long way in improving search engine ranking, customer confidence and PCI compliance. Websites with PCI compliance will have less to worry about in cloud security.

Certificate authorities such as Comodo SSL, RapidSSL, GeoTrust, Thawte, symantec etc. are authorised to provide such certificates to websites which are globally trusted by most popular browsers.

Data Backups

Having a backup plan always gives peace of mind. While cloud gives 360-degree data flexibility, the need to have backups is also indispensable. Be it on the cloud or on physical servers, data backups need to be regular and consistent. If physical storage is expensive to invest in, there are always SaaS storage solutions with no upfront costs. They provide the same storage utility at fractional costs.

The great thing about having backup is that, Irrespective of what happens to your master data, there will always be the backup data to rely on to continue operations.

Bonus Tip: it is better to take backups in offline servers which will remain far from the reach of online hackers.

Strengthening Data Center security

Strengthen data center security with features like managed firewalls, intrusion detection, antivirus and managed servers. A well-secured data center is a sure to keep your cloud data safe from hacker’s privy. Also check if the data center is complying with high-end security measures like SOC 2, SAS 70, SSAE 16, PCI compliance, etc.

Test for vulnerabilities

When in doubt, just test the system for vulnerabilities.

There are plenty of security solutions available in the market that keep your cloud platform safe from hacking. They are often integrated automatic security audits and vulnerability scanning. However, it doesn’t hurt to a manual check of your own to detect loopholes. What the system might detect to be friendly could actually be a menace that you might want to weed out right away.

Spread user awareness

Lack of user awareness about cloud safety measures needs to be thwarted at any costs. Employees and enterprise users of web applications and mobile app frameworks should be enlightened on the need for using strong passwords, using two-factor authentication and similar rock-solid security measures.

Bringing it all together

While there are plenty of challenges to face in cloud security, there are also adequate security measures that can be deployed to stun the challenges. As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure.

Do you have any more concerns in cloud security that need to be addressed? Let us know.