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What is Cloud Security?

20 October 2022      
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What is Cloud Security

Cloud Security Defined

Whether your journey to cloud is just beginning or you are already seeing the benefits, getting security right is critical. If not, there’s a risk of major consequences for your company, your customers, and your reputation.

As IT giant Accenture found out in August 2021. When four Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 buckets were left open to the public, hackers stole around 6TB worth of sensitive client and company data. They later requested a ransom of $50 million.1 Not a good day at the office. So, what exactly is cloud security and how do you get it right?

Cloud security is a collection of technology, controls, policies, and procedures that protect online data, applications, and platforms. As businesses transform their workplaces using cloud services, these security principles help to shield them from data breaches, ransomware, and other cyber security threats.

Why is cloud security important?

Over the last 10 years, cloud computing has changed the IT industry dramatically. Increasing our ability to store and share data, reduce costs, and boost our networking capabilities. With this shift comes a new way of thinking about cyber security.

Threats are increasingly becoming more advanced and sophisticated, and no matter the size of your business, it’s crucial to have the right protections in place. In a 451 Research study in 2021, 40% of organisations reported to have suffered cloud security breaches in the last 12 months.2 The impact of these attacks can leave you with massive financial penalties, legal and compliance action, not to mention damage to your reputation.

How cloud security works

Cloud security can vary based on the environment users are working in. There are four cloud deployment types:

  • Private cloud – Usually adopted by government agencies or financial firms, a cloud environment in which all the hardware and software resources are dedicated exclusively to, and accessible only by, a single customer. 
  • Public cloud – Unlike private cloud, public cloud can save your business from the expensive cost of having to buy, manage, and support on-premises infrastructure. The cloud service provider handles all management and maintenance of the system.
  • Hybrid cloud – This is a combination of public and private cloud platforms, used by companies who lean on the strengths of each, such as the ability to seamlessly scale their services with public cloud or stricter security and control with private cloud.
  • Multi-cloud – A blend of two or more cloud services from separate providers, multi-cloud can be a mixture of public and/or private clouds.

To protect data and applications in the cloud, vendors deploy a range of services that complement each other. These might include firewalls, identity and access management (IAM), segmentation, and encryption.

These technologies combine to protect networks and storage against malware, provide data recovery in the unfortunate event of data loss, reduce human error that can cause data leaks and reduce the fallout if data or systems are compromised.

What types of cloud security solutions are available?

A cloud security solution is generally a combination of principles and processes that might include:

  • Tools - used to apply policies to protect information stored or shared via the cloud.
  • Identity and access management (IAM) include controls to manage user accounts, password management and multi-factor authentication.
  • Access controls are crucial to restrict users, legitimate or malicious from access and potentially compromising sensitive data and systems.
  • Data loss prevention tools and Encryption, a method where information is converted into secret code the hides the information’s true meaning, are also used to safeguard data stored within the cloud applications

Is cloud secure?

Since you can no longer walk over to your server room and physically see your infrastructure, some potential adopters question are cloud services safe?. However, security measures from cloud service providers are far more robust than what would have been present on your old hardware.

Cloud servers are not easily accessible and the data stored on them is encrypted, which acts as a great deterrent for would-be attackers.

Cloud service providers regularly update their security measures, so you no longer have to patch systems yourself. They also use analysis tools, including artificial intelligence (AI) to scan for possible weaknesses in security measures.

Built-in firewalls also protect your data. Either software or hardware-based, they’ll apply rules to the incoming traffic on a network. This keeps your data safe filtering out suspicious traffic, and making it harder for hackers to slip past your security measures.

That being said, the cloud is only as strong as its weakest point so choosing the right services provider will help to boost the security of cloud environment.

Cloud Security Challenges & Solutions

Challenge Solution
Weak authentication, such as the use of only passwords or PINs to access cloud accounts. Multi-factor authentication adds an additional layer of security making it more difficult for hackers to gain access.
Misconfigurations, like granting public access to storage buckets or allowing more than necessary access to data stored in the cloud to all system users. Identity and Access Management (IAM) controls ensure that the right people have the right access, including administration permissions.
Shadow IT, unapproved tools, and applications installed by users outside standard IT security processes. Educating users on your policies is the first place to start but monitoring the cloud and the activity of your users will help sniff these out.

 

6 Pillars of Cloud Security

  1. Visibility – You need to be able to see who is doing what in the cloud. Suspicious activity can be investigated using an audit trail.
  2. Control – Not just encryption, this is the ability to manage who has access to your data.
  3. Data Protection – To ensure your data is as secure as possible, your business should encrypt data at every transport layer.
  4. Compliance – Regulations are constantly changing and can differ depending on your industry, making sure you understand these fully, will prevent any nasty financial penalties.
  5. Infrastructure Security – This is the protection of physical and logical access to servers in data centres. Who has access to your infrastructure, who has access to your network via that infrastructure?
  6. Identity and Access Management (IAM) – These secure access controls make sure that the right people have the right access to the systems and data they need to do their job. Well-enforced password policies are also crucial.

Nasstar Cloud Security Solutions

Nasstar’s Cloud Security services will assess and strengthen your position. Everything we build is secure by design and our team of certified experts will work closely with you to realise the power of cloud, securely.  

Find out more from our Technical Practice Lead & AWS Ambassador, Jason Oliver in the Nasstar approach to cloud security.

Speak to a specialist to find out more.

 

1 Accenture latest to breach client data due to misconfigured AWS server | Healthcare IT News
22021 Global Cloud Security Study Report (thalesgroup.com)