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Debunking the Top 3 Cloud Security Myths

Hosting critical data on cloud trumps the idea of deploying critical applications on the cloud to do the same thing. Why?

After all, outsourcing is a smart way to getting work done!

According to Gartner Inc., by 2020, a corporate “no-cloud” policy will be as rare as a “no-internet” policy is today, and by 2019, more than 30 % of the 100 largest vendors’ new software investments will have shifted from cloud-first to cloud-only.

Cloud service models, given their unrestrained realms of application, are rife with doubts over security. The fear is that cloud is porous and can be easily attacked due to its ‘shared’ archetype.  The following questions are being asked:

Is the cloud environment safe for deploying my workloads?

Is the cloud as impervious as it claims to be?

Let’s address these doubts, bit by bit.


Myth 1: Customers can attack one another in the same cloud

Cloud infrastructure and services are designed in such a way that every resource, ranging from applications and storage to network links and servers, are shared by end-users. This often gives rise to vulnerability concerns, when compared to traditional IT infrastructure.

However, the possibility of customers attacking each other in the cloud is a myth because after moving to the cloud, the subscribers are confined to individual spaces on the cloud. This protective perimeter enables virtual operating systems to run independently and simultaneously on the server.

Additionally, the cloud is built on data centers and its security posture is instrumental in determining the security level of your data. Cloud service providers like AWS provides different types of cloud computing services – like Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and follow strict standards to ensure the data center is independently audited, Soc2 Type II compliant and secured.

But since the encrypted cloud is still within public reach, it is important to understand that keeping your data safe is a shared responsibility – between you and your cloud service provider. Set up security protocols for participants who need to access your organisation’s data, and control the access rights for each user, based on the context of use.

If these practices are adhered to, then your data will remain secure in the cloud.


Myth 2: Cloud is not disaster-resistant

Fact: On the contrary, the answer is that it can be if you focus on effectual DR strategies.

Conditions apply wherever dependency creeps in, so you may want to stand guard against the tendency to bury your head in the sand, presuming everything is disaster-proof. After all, all applications hosted in the cloud must be backed up and risks to be mitigated ahead of time. This can be done by adopting Disaster-Recovery methods and best practices.

The first task here includes performing a risk analysis and identifying which assets are critical. The next step involves establishing the systems and software that make up those assets. Following this, a glance at the technical dependencies and fire-up order will need to be assessed, to restore critical assets. Also, it is important to secure data in multiple locations for restoration.

Pay close attention to architect your applications for failover correctly. This means that successful recovery depends on leveraging multi-AZ functionalities in AWS to ensure applications survive the failover from existing VMs to a new VM.

DR best practices also incorporate testing for all kinds of failure. Testing on a periodic basis ensures your processes perform as originally planned. Whatever you do, make sure your DR processes and procedures are well documented and available for use in multiple locations and for quick access.


Myth 3: My data is not 100% secure after moving to the cloud         

Cloud service providers make use of independent off-premise data centers to store your data. And since your cloud server is managed externally, your control over this data centre is restricted.

However, incompetency levels of the data center is a myth because the best cloud hosting providers install supercomputers and highest levels of security measures to ensure that there is no breach. Having encrypted cloud storage features, they maintain enterprise standards, while hosting data of organisations on their servers.

In comparison, on-premise cloud requires firmware upgrades and timely penetration testing. This means regular updates are required. But as the configuration of your organisation changes, the maintenance effort becomes tedious and expensive.

Thankfully, off-premise data centers, managed by a reputed cloud service provider have upgraded automatically, thereby reducing brute-force attacks that are typically rampant in on-premise data centers.

Shared responsibility is another important aspect to understand, to make your data in the cloud secure. Ensure that users who have access to your intellectual property receive the right amount of scrutiny and training, limit access to the cloud data based on user context (eg: location and device type in use) and provide extra encryption to highly sensitive data.

Efforts like integrating security filters for audit trail when logging accounts, and preventing database attacks like SQL injections and cross-site scripting through Web Application Firewalls (WAF) and AWS Best Practices, can further tighten the security of your cloud data.

Remember that including a well-defined security charter, right at the beginning of your cloud deployment efforts can help mitigate and avert future risks that would otherwise render your migration efforts ineffective.

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