With the upsurge in cloud computing and the emerging technology of cloud as a Service (Paas, SaaS IaaS), the concern surrounding IT security in cloud is at its fever pitch. Opponents of cloud security often accuse the platform as being amateur and, thus, highly insecure. However, it’s not the cloud service that is the culprit, but a host of other things like lack of proper IT administration, poor security measures, lack of regulatory compliance, etc.
In short, cloud environment offers a lot of potential for the future of IT and related fields, but threats are inherent part of a prospering trend. So IT managers, in harmony with all stakeholders, should be aware of the risks involved in cloud security and ways to mitigate them. Some of these said risks include lack of data encryption, data loss/theft, lack of regular risk assessment and so on. These risks possess major threat on corporate data, and without addressing them, even the best enterprise mobility management and mobile device management programs are futile. So let’s take a look at some of the security risks hovering over the cloud and ways to counter attack them:
Lack of cloud antivirus software
The basic level of protection for any network – be in home, business or one running on the cloud – starts from having the fundamental tools for safety, i.e. a reliable cloud antivirus, and if possible, firewalls. While there are dedicated, enterprise-level cloud antivirus that come with specialized features to ensure protection against online threats, the internet is aplenty with several cloud antivirus that are free to download and use without any cost and commitment. Firewalls, on the other hand, are a bit tricky because they allow networks to set their own rules and implement policies. Companies should invest their security budget in getting a firewall that meets their requirements.
The only thing network admins should remember to turn on the cloud antivirus and firewall at any given time to stay guarded against impending threats or to deliver virus removal.
All IT environments are government by relevant compliance standards, the more they abide by it the more they are secure. This is equally true for hybrid cloud environment, both private and public in nature. Granted, compliance for hybrid model could be a little tougher because of the way data traffic moves bilaterally in the said environment, but nevertheless, IT should ensure strict compliance with internal security policy in the organizations as well as industry regulations such as Tunneled EAP, SGT, SXP and pxGrid to safeguard their network.
Lack of data encryption
No data should be left in the loose on the internet, or cloud, without the basic encryption implemented on it. Corporate networks are natural targets for Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) attacks and online eavesdropping, threats that could impersonate endpoints to evade authentication. The foremost step to avoid falling prey to such scenarios is to encrypt corporate data with Secure Socket Layer (SSL) where possible. Additionally, employing a proxy server or using a reliable Virtual Private Network (VPN) for corporate communication are also safe ways to ensure corporate data safety.
Lack of risk analysis/assessment
It’s baffling to notice how many corporates, despite having a very strong IT departments, do not understand the importance of testing their IT security capabilities and infrastructure from time to time. What most of the IT managers don’t seem to comprehend is that having a plethora of security software is not the only way to guarantee an intrusion-free network. It only takes a small security loophole for hackers to make inroads into the system and inflict damage.
To avoid this, organizations should carry out rigorous risk detection and prevention processes at least a few times every year. They should employ a trusted intrusion detection system (IDP) and intrusion prevention software (IPS) to identify and block malicious traffic respectively.
Poor security policies
Several enterprise managers don’t understand the distinction between security for cloud networks versus traditional networks; safety protocols for the former requires more prudence and caution because cloud technology is still in its nascent stage. Security managers should impose stringent policies to authenticate, authorise and manage user identities in public and private cloud networks. The way to achieve this goal is by distinguish (and store) highly sensitive corporate data from traditional data, take control of private and public cloud space, and sync corporate data with the security softwares being employed.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is more dangerous than Denial of Service (DoS) attacks because of the sheer volume of malicious incursion they unleash simultaneously from multiple origins. However, DoS are nonetheless a threat to cloud management because of their persistent approach and target to application program interfaces (APIs).
IT admins can make use of flow analytics to curb DoS, while using an in-path deployment and mitigation device to regulate network traffic.
No data redundancy
Data redundancy is almost like backing up your corporate data into different baskets. Evenly distributing data across a network and to auxiliary repositories can reduce the risk of complete data loss if in case, there is a loss at one source. IT admins in any hybrid cloud network should be thoughtful about enforcing data redundancy on multiple data sources offered by the cloud providers.
Like any other traditional network, there is no magic wand to perfectly secure a hybrid cloud network and it has its fair share of security demons to fend off. However, raising awareness in the risks surrounding the platform and taking necessary steps to fight those obstacles will likely yields rewards for the corporate instead of losses.
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