Since the beginning of cloud, security has been one of the significant concerns among many businesses that are working in public cloud.
According to a report by Crowd research partners, causes of cloud security threats are:
- Misconfiguration of cloud platforms – 62%
- Unauthorized access to employee credentials combined with improper access controls – 55%
- Insecure interfaces/ APIs – 50%
The idea of storing data or running applications on infrastructure that businesses do not manage seems inherently insecure. Therefore, they seek for ways which could help them become more comfortable while storing data on the cloud. Let us walk you through as to why security in cloud storage is essential and what practices can be adopted to make cloud storage more secure.
Why Cloud Security is Essential?
Cloud technology has been flourishing and no one can deny the advantages of adopting cloud for their organization. It has been found that about 90% enterprises in the US have adopted cloud and approx. 52% of SMBs use cloud for storing their data. Companies, therefore, save money by avoiding big servers, large infrastructures and IT staff. Well, with all these benefits comes the significant concern related to the security of cloud.
Let us now explore why security in cloud is essential.
1. Security Breach:
It is noticed that over past few years there has been exponential increase in the security breaches worldwide. For instance, 6.7 million data breach was revealed by LinkedIn while other popular security breaches include Ashley Madison, iCLoud and Sony hack.
Well, the news outlets around the world won’t publish about whether the company’s infrastructure is secure or not, but the moment any security breach happens in a particular company, the breach issues related to the company will hit the headlines. Even the smallest breach can impact the company’s reputation in an adverse manner. Therefore, it is very essential that cloud security needs to be taken seriously.
2. Know specifically where Data is Stored
Whether you are a small, medium or large size organization, you should exactly know where your cloud service provider has stored your data. Also, you need to be aware whether your data is separated from other data or not.
The regulations of different countries are different, regarding the data storage in the cloud. Some countries like the US are able to access any data stored in cloud, while many European countries focuses on providing full privacy of the data.
Selecting an appropriate location depends on many factors; prominent among those is that the businesses need to be aware of their compliances.
3. Defining the Security Roles Unambiguously
With the storage of data on the cloud, it has become really easy for the organization to make the data accessible to all its employees. But it is very important to define what data can be accessible to which employee. To better define security roles and access rights, several levels can be defined where entry of data can be subdivided. For example, some information can be available to all the employees in the organization while critical data can be accessible to only some employees. The organization should also ensure to encrypt sensitive data, if any. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) should be there between the organization and the cloud service provider.
4. Lack of Security Responsibility
Some firms have a false belief that if their data is on cloud, it is automatically secure and they don’t have to work to protect them. Well, the businesses should here make a note that the cloud providers are not bound to protect their user workloads or any other data until that is detailed in the SLA. This implies that data retention, security and resilience are responsibilities of users and not that of service providers. On part of the organization it is crucial to check the cloud provider’s model of shared responsibility along with taking necessary steps for enhancing cloud security.
5. Inefficient Cloud Security Tools
The organizations lack adequate cloud security tools which subsequently enhances the risk of data leakages and degrading business efficiency. It is therefore suggested to invest in some good CASB solutions that can be easily customized according to the respective requirements of organizations. This could be an efficient and economical way to protect data over cloud.
6. Shared Technology Issues
Cloud providers provide sharable platforms, applications and infrastructure along with sharing products such as SaaS, without making any changes in the existing software. Many times these components are not strongly isolated for multi-customer application or multi-tenant architecture, consequently resulting in shared technology vulnerability. This can be very well exploited by different service providing models.
7. Human errors caused due to inadequate diligence
With the increase in BYOD environment, the risk of getting attacked by hackers has also increased. This is because any error in credentials can cause a lot of trouble in important cloud data and application. Also, the executives should make effective roadmaps while migrating to cloud for enhancing better success results; because choosing any cloud service provider without due-diligence can get the organizations exposed to many risks.
Best Practices to Secure Cloud Applications
1. End to end Data Encryption during Transition
The interaction with different servers should be secure. It should happen over SSL transmission to make sure that it is done at highest level of security. Also, the SSL should also get terminated within the cloud service provider.
2. Static Data should also be Encrypted
The sensitive data stored statically should also be encrypted in order to effectively comply with privacy policies, regulations and other contractual obligations. It is suggested that data stored on disks in cloud storage should be encrypted using AES-256 (Advanced Encryption standard). Also, the encryption keys should themselves be encrypted with a set of master keys.
3. A regular Vulnerability Testing should be there
The cloud service providers are required to deploy such tools that can cater to the vulnerabilities related to various leading industries and are also responsive to various incidents. For instance, the assessment tools can be automatic and test for various system weaknesses and shorten the time between different security audits. The organizations are free to decide the time when vulnerability assessment is required which can vary from different devices to different networks. If needed, regular scans can even be scheduled or performed.
4. Clear and Enforced Data Deletion Policy
There should be provision of programmatically deletion of Customer’s data after the data retention period (as specified in a customer’s contract) is over.
5. Addition of Protective layers
There should be provision of role based access control (RBAC) for various organizations by the cloud service provider to set user-specific access and editing permissions for their data. Easy compliance is maintained with internal and external security standards within the system itself.
6. Rigorous Compliance Certifications should be Enforced
There are two major certifications:
a. PCI DSS
This certification can be attained by the organizations by simply undergoing detailed audits. This certificate includes various requirements for security management, policies, procedure, network architecture, software design and other critical protective measures.
b. SOC 2 type II
SOC 2 helps the organizations to manage internal risk processes, different regulatory compliances; simultaneously maintaining highest level of data security.
Both the above certifications can be helpful in comparing different cloud service providers while choosing one.
The flexibility and ease of using the cloud services have proven really beneficial for the SMBs. But at the same time, threat of losing data can be quite frightening. We hope this article could help to you in gaining useful insights about the security while storing data on cloud.
If you are a cloud service provider or you are using cloud as a storage platform, let us know about your thoughts on cloud security.