Despite the rise in cloud adoption, many companies are still hesitant to move forward with the transition due to cloud security concerns. These concerns range from data privacy to data loss and breaches, and industry laggards yet to jump on the bandwagon of cloud computing remain hesitant in transferring the control of their data to third-party cloud vendors. The concerns are overblown and their confidence may be misplaced. Here’s why:
Better Defense Capabilities
For cloud vendors to be successful, they must manage vast volumes of data. This capability necessitates employment and training of large teams specifically skilled to manage, secure and operate a mammoth cloud infrastructure and the data hosted within. The amount of expertise required to manage a cloud will overshadow the expertise most individual companies can accommodate in-house. The expertise found in cloud managed service providers is highly focused on data security. As a result, mishaps due to lack of cloud security expertise are out of the question and the cloud infrastructure is adequately protected against vulnerabilities.
Secure Development Lifecycles
Most on-premises solutions are developed over years, sometimes even decades. As concerns arise and new requirements emerge, architects and solution managers are forced to improve and update their systems. This development cycle is similar for cloud solutions with one major difference: security is developed into the solution from the very beginning. Especially on older legacy systems, modern day security concerns were not considered during the initial deployment stages.
Face it: if looking for speed on the road, would most people choose a car modified to reach faster speeds or a supercar that is designed for speed? Everything in a cloud infrastructure, ranging from software solutions to the monitoring systems, to the processes managing the infrastructure are designed with data security in mind. For many systems on-premises, security may have been an afterthought.
If a cloud provider is serious about security, that seriousness extends to continuous auditing, monitoring and security testing of all operational aspects of the infrastructure. Besides ensuring higher reliability of the solutions, continuous auditing ensures all software is updated to the latest version, all anomalies in system performance are identified and resolved, and all security compliance requirements are met. Constant monitoring ensures any irregular behavior is immediately identified and investigated.
Automation and Repeatability
The cloud infrastructure is developed for automation: less manual intervention in routine functions and less opportunities for mistakes to be made. Cloud services perform a limited number of tasks by design. Most tasks involved opening a virtual instance and closing that instance. These tasks are standardized, as is most of the hardware, network equipment, applications and OS used in performing those tasks. This standardization makes cloud infrastructures easier to secure.
Because of the larger economies of scale involved, the principles of automation and repeatability are essential when implementing new systems.
Stricter Access Controls
A major concern is the loss of data control for companies if the data sits outside their firewall. This control extends to imaginations that some cloud provider employee will have overarching access to their sensitive data. A properly managed cloud provider will have a number of diverse roles sharing responsibilities for the entire cloud solution without any one individual having total access to all components of the solution. In other words, no single person has the level of access required to threaten the security or confidentiality of a customer’s data.
On-premises Versus Cloud
The idea that on-premises infrastructures are more secure than cloud infrastructures is a myth. Despite the number of breaches reported in the news these days, unauthorized physical access to cloud data centers are extremely rare. The worst breaches occur behind companies’ firewalls and from their own employees. Data in a cloud can reside on any number of servers in any number of locations, rather than a dedicated server within the on-premises network.
Physical access to systems is not a valid concern anymore. Economies of scale required by cloud providers have shown overall fewer service disruptions and quicker recoveries, reducing the downtime suffered by cloud customers. Higher levels of automation, standardization and auditing ensures virus signatures and security patches are updated quickly throughout the network: often much faster than local IT staff can perform. 24/7/365 monitoring and staffing enables issues to be identified and resolved quickly.
Caution Still Required
Cloud computing is a new game and a large number of immature and suspicious players are emerging all the time. While a cloud solution should offer more security as compared to in-house IT deployments, it doesn’t mean that every cloud solution is guaranteed to be more secure than on-premises solutions. When considering cloud vendors to support data requirements, understand the provider’s security position in order to perform an informed assessment of their value-add. Look into their certification reports to ensure the vendors is fully compliant with the necessary security standards.
For more insights download the Alert Logic 2015 Cloud Security Report.