An Introduction to Cloud Technology and Cloud Security
Cloud technology and cloud security are key to the growth of any modern business.
Businesses today need a safe and secure way to store and access their data. It’s not practically possible for all businesses to do it all in house. This is where cloud technology comes in. Many firms today rely on the cloud for the smooth running of their businesses. But, as cybercrime is on the rise, it’s not safe to store critical data on unsecured servers. Hence, businesses need to invest heavily in cloud security protocols, to ensure that their data is safe from cyberattacks.
The Cloud – What is it?
The Cloud can be defined as a mesh or shared pool of computing resources- networks, servers, applications etc.
We wouldn’t want to trace the history of cloud computing since it’s rather irrelevant here; moreover, anyone can google and find details regarding the history of cloud computing, from Wikipedia or other reliable sources. We’d rather dwell more on the functioning and the security aspects.
Cloud facilities are utilized for all kinds of purposes, ranging from creating visual content to storing customer data.
How the Cloud works…
The cloud works almost akin to storing some of your belongings, when your house is too cluttered or when you need another safe place to store some of your belongings, in an outside facility for a fee. Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) let enterprises store and process their data and application processes in the public cloud and charge a fee for that. Enterprises can thus manage with lesser storage and computing power. They can pay the CSPs for a multitude of other services, including additional security.
The three different kinds of cloud computing services
Software as a Service (SaaS)- SaaS is all about allowing users/companies to access and use applications and databases running on a cloud infrastructure. Thus, a software firm can use SaaS facilities to publish its software and the users can access the software via a web browser. SaaS applications let users/companies store, access and manage applications and data on the cloud and not on their personal devices. Thus, they can have additional computer space and can synchronize data across many devices. It also helps avoid time-consuming updates and software ownership; things could be worked out on a subscription basis- monthly or annual.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)- The software or hardware provided by a CSP, like for example Amazon Web Services, can be used by an enterprise to develop and launch their own suite of services. This is what’s known as PaaS. The testing and compiling functions from PaaS can be used by companies to communicate and deliver different kinds of new production developments even on an international network. This helps enterprises greatly, especially regarding managing software licenses, reducing costs etc. It also gives them a host of diverse tools to work with.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)- Users can obtain access to online services- servers, storage, physical computing resources, location, data partitioning, security, backup etc- on a pay-as-you-go basis and based on the amount of data consumed from the CSP. This is IaaS, which is the most flexible of cloud computing services and which offers flexible customization possibilities. IaaS helps access outside servers without having to invest in expensive hardware; the hardware facilities that the CSP provides can be used for a much lesser amount. It also helps get cloud security for an enterprise, without much investment.
Cloud security and the risks of cloud computing
Cloud security is all about securing data and applications that operate in the cloud. Cloud security consultants, after examining different aspects pertaining to the operation of data and applications in the cloud, design a security protocol that seeks to protect these applications and data. The ecosystem of people, processes, policies and technology that seek to give such protection is what’s referred to as cloud security. The cloud security consultants would also be expected to design and implement a cloud incident response plan, for any enterprise.
We should remember that today, when cloud computing services open before us a world of infinite possibilities, it also comes with its own risks. Hackers try to try cloud providers, which would ultimately help them lay hands on huge amounts of data belonging to different enterprises and millions of customers, at one go. Hence, there are security risks associated with cloud service providers as well. Thus, it’s always advisable, for any enterprise, to choose the right CSP for its cloud-based requirements.
Among the different threats that could impact the Cloud, the top ones include data breaches, insecure APIs, system and application vulnerabilities, account hijacking, APTs, denial of service, malicious insiders, abuse or nefarious use of cloud services etc.
In this context, cloud security specialists have a key role to play. Cloud security is now an industry in itself and is evolving at a fast pace. Every business today should have a protected cloud infrastructure and hence having a proper cloud security strategy, depending on the best of security firms or professionals for cloud protection, partnering only with CSPs that guarantee comprehensive security, conducting risk assessment for cloud assets too, reviewing cloud security architecture etc should be seen as crucial, for any enterprise today.
Julia Sowells635 Posts
Julia Sowells has been a technology and security professional. For a decade of experience in technology, she has worked on dozens of large-scale enterprise security projects, and even writing technical articles and has worked as a technical editor for Rural Press Magazine. She now lives and works in New York, where she maintains her own consulting firm with her role as security consultant while continuing to write for Hacker Combat in her limited spare time.