The cloud is a great enabler, allowing scalability and accessibility beyond what was possible in the past. It also exposes your data to new risks and may cause you to rethink your IT security.
Current news is full of stories about data breaches, ransomware attacks, and other assaults on user data. Such attacks are expected to continue, even accelerate, making cloud security a priority for all businesses.
And while most businesses believe that cloud providers take care of all that security, there are a lot of things that you still need to account for.
WHAT IS CLOUD ENVIRONMENT SECURITY?
Just like data stored on a local server, data stored remotely requires protection. It’s something that cloud providers take very seriously.
Cloud security solutions are a collection of safeguards that protects information stored online. It includes hardware and software used in combination to harden systems against attacks and intrusions. Together they provide deterrence, prevention, detection, and correction.
Typical cloud security solutions will include multiple different technologies.
A firewall monitors incoming and outgoing traffic. It decides whether to allow or block traffic depending on predefined rules.
The goal is to guard the perimeter – blocking unauthorized access while permitting allowed communications. Firewalls can be hardware, software, or a combination of both directly built into the cloud infrastructure.
Identity And Access Management
Maintaining strict access control through identity and access management is a cornerstone of any cloud security infrastructure. Access controls protect cloud data by restricting access to certain users (or computers) while denying it to others.
For example, only employees who need access in order to do their job would be allowed to access client data. And managing such controls as part of cloud security solutions can become a significant overhead.
Data in transit is data potentially exposed. Cloud security can protect against this in a number of ways. Encryption, data masking, and virtual private networks (VPNs) are a few examples.
And every small business needs to identify the most secure ways of transmitting data to and from their cloud infrastructure to ensure they don’t put client data or vendor data at risk of exposure.
Cloud computing security includes advanced threat detection. Threat intelligence spots potential security threats, and these are ranked in order of importance to help guide protection efforts.
This kind of intelligence has to be gathered through cloud infrastructure solutions as well as cloud environment analysts looking at incoming attacks.
PHYSICAL CLOUD COMPUTING PROTECTION
Physical security, legal compliance, and disaster recovery combine into one area of protecting your cloud environment. And cloud service providers must physically secure hardware against unauthorized access, fire, etc.
Some users may have a legal requirement that data must be stored in a particular country. A cloud provider with multiple data centers can assist with this. If the worst happens, a solid disaster recovery plan will mitigate the damage and speed up recovery processes.
WHY SHOULD IT BE A PRIORITY?
Cloud data security has always been a priority. With the transfer of billions of records to cloud computing solutions, that need is greater than ever.
Hackers have been throwing malware, ransomware, and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks at business data at an ever-increasing rate. It’s up to cloud security solutions to defend against attacks of all kinds.
The top threats to data stored in the cloud include malware, such as concealed crypto miners, ransomware attacks, sensitive data theft, and denial of service attacks (DDoS). Our cloud infrastructure experts predict the following top threats to sensitive data stored in the cloud:
CONCEALED CRYPTOCURRENCY MINING IS THE NEWEST SECURITY THREAT
Concealed crypto-mining, instead of stealing your data, steals your processing power. Mining cryptocurrency takes lots of energy and makes it a very costly process. The way it works is that a hacker installs hidden crypto-mining software on the victim’s system.
The software runs in the background, utilizing the victim’s cloud computing system as part of a botnet to mine cryptocurrency. The prize is Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, which can be cashed in for traditional currency.
The victim’s computer does the work; the hacker gets the cryptocurrency. While concealed crypto-mining isn’t new, it’s on a dramatic upward spike. It attracts less public attention than ransomware and is estimated to generate a huge amount of revenue for hackers.
RANSOMWARE ATTACKS ARE BECOMING MORE SOPHISTICATED
Ransomware slips into a computer system and encrypts everything it can reach. Even backups, if they’re not detached, can be affected. Recovery means paying a ransom for the decryption key or enduring the painful process of restoring from backups.
According to Kaspersky Labs, which tracks malware of all kinds, 1.8 million ransomware attacks were recorded in 2018, and that number has grown every year since then.
Experts warn that ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and have started challenging cloud security. That means that recovering from them is harder and more expensive than ever before. It’s a trend that’s likely to continue and become more important for every cloud provider.
DATA BREACHES ARE A GROWING HEADACHE
In the first half of 2018, more than 22 million records were exposed via data breaches (Statistica). Hackers hit 684 businesses to obtain them, and an average U.S. incident costs its victim 7.91 million (Forbes).
That doesn’t even account for lost goodwill, credibility, and loyalty with customers. With the recent implementation of GDPR (General Protection Data Regulations), breaches must be reported to the appropriate authority, and they can no longer remain entirely an internal matter for a cloud provider.
DDOS ATTACKS ARE DIFFICULT TO DEFEND AGAINST
Cloud applications and company websites can be a target for DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. With a DDoS attack, the hacker uses a botnet to place huge demands on the victim’s application or website until it can no longer serve all of its clients.
The application slows to a crawl or potentially crashes under the load.
This can lead to reputation damage on top of lost business. Stopping a DDoS attack without blocking your actual customers is no easy task. And without intervention, DDoS attacks can go on for days, even in cloud computing environments.
THE MOST IMPORTANT CLOUD SECURITY TRENDS
As the concept of cloud computing shifts further from a startup-only domain to a world where more and more large enterprises are shifting to a serverless architecture, the concept of Cloud Security will become crucial to organizations in the cloud.
However, most organizations have a hard time understanding the importance of cloud security when launching a new cloud platform. As a result, according to Allied Market Research, the worldwide market for cloud security solutions is predicted to rise to a staggering $8.9 billion by 2020.
Some experts believe that every business organization will be forced to increase its operating budget to ensure cloud security and safeguard the digital presence of the organization.
Here are the top 5 cloud security trends which you should keep an eye on over the coming years.
#1 – CLOUD PROVIDERS TAKE A MORE ACTIVE ROLE IN SECURITY
As more organizations choose to adopt a serverless architecture to abstract out more of the technology management, cloud providers will be forced to step in more to ensure comprehensive security.
Such responsibilities will include everything from physical security, operating system security, which includes configurations and patches, enhanced identity and access management, network security, and container or virtual machine security.
Due to the lack of comprehensive compliance on the part of organizations who are, for example, unintentionally exposing their cloud storage devices publicly by way of risky configurations, many high-profile cloud security breaches have occurred.
Expect cloud providers to push for better compliance by publishing more cloud-native guidelines and research or for more organizations to go serverless entirely to combat this issue.
#2 – BLOCKCHAIN IMPLEMENTATIONS HELP SECURE DATA
Created specifically for protecting cryptocurrency transactions, blockchain architecture takes a step out of the realm of vague buzzwords into real cloud security applications.
It has grown into the most effective way of tracing cyber crimes since data is decentralized and distributed across the blockchain network. In essence, blockchain architecture protects data by ensuring that it’s not all stored in one place and distributes transaction records among other users who are also in the blockchain network.
This architecture helps deter external hacking and assists teams in safeguarding data, as other participants in the blockchain network could detect breaches.
Furthermore, some would regard blockchain as one of the biggest cloud security trends to watch out for, particularly for highly-regulated industries such as healthcare, education, and law.
#3 – THE RISE OF DEVSECOPS
As an increasing number of cloud systems and their security responsibilities shift to the cloud providers, organizations will find themselves dealing less with the details of handling physical, operating system, and network security.
Obviously, this shift in responsibility for cloud security would be most noticeable in serverless systems, where the only security implications for application developers would be in the application layer itself.
As a result, there will be a shift away from traditional IT security teams with organization-wide security strategies to an expectation for developers to become more involved with and responsible for security.
This expectation will cause a demand for a more specialized developer focused on ensuring security within the organization’s cloud environment and the deployment process is compliant.
One of the expected cloud security trends is the increased demand in the marketplace for the adoption of the Development Security Operations (DevSecOps) movement across the board for all companies that are serious about their cloud security.
#4 – CLOUD SECURITY AUTOMATION
In the cloud, security means more than purchasing security software. Ensuring the safety and security of a cloud computing environment involves an ongoing process of monitoring, assessing, and implementing security patches.
This sort of activity is a 24-hour-a-day, 7-days-a-week process.
As the cloud security sector moves forward, it will become more common for organizations to adopt this constant vigilance mentality toward safeguarding their cloud environments. Naturally, this will drive a demand for abstraction or automation that will provide organizations with a means to rapidly launch cloud security responses to many different events.
For example, automating certain aspects of the cloud environment will open many doors for more responsive security functions and combating common cyber attacks such as service abuse, denial-of-service attacks, and crypto-jacking.
Automation can also help with security compliance when spinning up new environments to prevent these assets from being exposed outside the normal deployment pipeline or safeguarding the deployment pipeline by running compliance and security checks during deployment.
#5 – TRADITIONAL SECURITY ORGANIZATIONS BEGIN TO OFFER CLOUD-NATIVE SECURITY
Traditional security vendors have already begun to recognize that the cloud environment is no longer the domain of startups.
As corporate, healthcare, finance, and even government organizations begin to recognize that public cloud environments are not less secure than in-house setups and begin to adopt cloud environments, traditional security firms are making moves in the cloud security sector to capture this portion of the market.
A well-known example is the tech security firm Symantec which owns Norton, Odyssey Software, and Blue Coat Systems. Symantec already offers several cloud security and monitoring solutions and plans to expand further into the sector.
As the adoption of serverless architectures rises, so will demand for cloud-native security solutions.
By offering these cloud-native security solutions as well as security consulting for serverless and container-based environments, traditional security organizations will help drive more cloud adoption.
Cloud Security as a Service will be a big factor in the $8.9 billion cloud security market predicted, and traditional vendors, already having many security experts at their disposal, are in a unique position to pivot swiftly into that sector.
With the prospect of advancements in cloud security, including identity and access management, and an increase in cloud adoption by older and more complex organizations, the future looks to be very bright for the cloud.
Looking forward, we can expect to see this relatively new sector of cloud-based computing experience a veritable gold rush of activity and innovation. And just like the Old West, there will be plenty of people on both sides, those looking to cause harm and those looking to prevent it.
However, with projected spending of $8.9 billion on cloud computing security, it’s easy to see how the good guys will be at an advantage, hopefully creating safer and more secure cloud environments for all of us.
NO HASSLE CLOUD BACKUP SOLUTIONS: BACKUP YOUR DATA WITH CLOUD SERVICES
Here are some of the most in-demand services for cloud backup solutions.
This is one of the most popular cloud computing services out there, as it is offered through Microsoft. If you are in any way part of the Microsoft ecosystem (even if it is just the Windows operating system), you probably have access to even a basic OneDrive cloud storage account.
It does seamlessly integrate into your computer’s desktop, and it works exceptionally well if you rely on the Office suite of software titles from Microsoft, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
While there are other, more robust cloud solutions for your business, this is at least worth looking into and experimenting with, as you probably already have some kind of basic account for cloud data.
This cloud service is about as old as it gets in the world of cloud services. It was one of the first to offer any kind of cloud storage option to individuals.
There are some free accounts, which are limited but fine when you only need to store personal files and don’t want to mix them up with business files. But if you want a complete business spectrum cloud service, you will want to look at the business cloud storage solutions available through Dropbox.
Of course, our staff here at Charlotte IT Solutions is more than happy to go over all the cloud infrastructure options that we not only specialize in, but that is out there in the wild and help pinpoint the one that will offer the greatest level of assistance for your current needs.
As the world has moved away from solitary applications installed on a computer hard drive and instead now relies on applications with an always-on Internet connection, Google has swiftly become a leader in these Internet applications.
Not long ago, it would have been unheard of to consider not using Microsoft Office in your place of business. Most companies simply relied on these programs far too much to look for other alternatives.
Of course, there was a good reason for this, as the Microsoft Office Suite is tried and true.
These titles have been tweaked, updated, and improved upon over the decades. However, Google Drive now offers easy integration with its own set of Office-like tools, many of which you might find better for your own business.
Google Workspace has a robust offering of business applications, many of which are free to use. Even if you haven’t used the Workspace applications yet, chances are you have a Gmail and YouTube account.
Whatever your reliance on Google is (as there are some who are turning away from Google as they don’t want to hand over every bit of personal and professional detail to one company), Google Drive is one of the very best cloud services out there, with plenty of processing power and the ability to implement the cloud services into your professional applications as well as your email and social media accounts.
When you have employees who access office files from various operating systems and devices, you want cloud backup solutions that work with all of these OS versions. The last thing you want is for someone in the office to be unable to open their files because it was saved on a Mac, and they are running a Chromebook.
With iDrive, you won’t have this issue.
iDrive is a cloud infrastructure that works with basically any kind of OS, device, or Internet connection. Whether someone saved files while on their iPhone, Samsung Tablet, or Windows computer, anyone in the office can still gain access to the files with iDrive.
Plus, with the continuous data backup activated, you won’t need to worry about sudden power losses or hard drive crashes.
So, at the very least, you won’t have flashbacks of your college term paper going up in digital smoke when the laptop fell off the desk and the hard drive stopped working.
And, for added data storage backup, you can connect external hard drives and NAS devices and add them to automatic backups, so when files are backed up on the cloud infrastructure, they will also be backed up on your locally stored hard drive.
While you’re not going to compete with 10 TB of storage for under $5, BackBlaze does offer a nice setup for the price point.
Storage for BackBlaze is unlimited, so you’re not fixed in any set amount, which is great if you work with media files and need more than a few terabytes of storage at your disposal.
BackBlaze also partners with ExpressVPN, which can be helpful when protecting your network. While using a VPN, you can trick some Internet service providers and websites into believing you are located in a different state (or country).
However, some websites will not work if you are using a VPN. Certain banking and financial websites will not function correctly (or at all), so you’ll need to keep that in mind.
This is another cloud-based backup service that offers exceptional security for your data files.
You can also manage all levels of your backup, so if you would like to tweak how you’re saving information or what data is updated (and how frequently), you can do just that with this service.
There are various subscription tiers, and you’ll save money if you decide to pay for a full year of cloud services in advance instead of utilizing monthly payments.
GET HELP WITH YOUR CLOUD BACKUP SERVICE
Selecting the optimal cloud backup service can be a challenge. There are so many variables to consider, and even when you know what you want in a cloud infrastructure, choosing one over the other isn’t all that easy.
Here at Charlotte IT Solutions, we aim to make this a pain-free process.
Not only can we match you with the optimal cloud backup service, but we will also help set it up and monitor it at the same time. In addition, we can assist with setting up virtual networks, installing upgraded software, and aiding you in protecting your business with Internet security protocols.
To learn more about what we can do for your business or to begin setting up your managed IT account, all you need to do is give us a call. Our customer service staff at Charlotte IT Solutions will gladly address all your questions and concerns.