Why it’s safer to store data in the cloud

Why it's safer to store data in the cloud

May 4, 2017
Ben Sanders


Many businesses think that the cloud is not yet a safe place to store confidential information and could provide access to a company’s systems more easily. But as the technology evolves, more companies understand that it’s safer to store data in the cloud than on local machines, solidifying the cloud as a core tool in businesses around the world.

For example, despite reservations that CIOs and chief security officers have about the cloud, 86 percent of companies use more than one type of cloud service, according to a survey from Cloudability. The majority of those cloud services include hosting and storage needs.

But an increasing reliance on the cloud does involve increased security risks and privacy issues. Additionally, many business don’t implement a necessary security strategy for cloud services before entrusting their data to a cloud provider.

Here we answer common questions that businesses have about cloud security, to give you a better understanding of how to protect your data and information in the cloud.

For more information about keeping your data secure in the cloud, download our free guide: “The Security Mindset” or get in touch to discuss your cloud security strategy with one of our cloud security specialists.

 

How reliable is cloud storage?

The biggest concern with cloud storage is lost data, not hacked data. But that issue is eliminated if the cloud is used more as a “sharing” platform instead of a “storage” platform. By taking shared files and storing them into something like Google Drive, Dropbox or Microsoft Sharepoint, you can ensure that if your data are lost, you can easily locate them through the other platform.

Your data might be safe if a local system that it is stored on has failed, but that won’t do much to mollify you in the event of a system outage. While cloud storage keeps your data secure from fires, floods, hurricanes and computer meltdowns, it is still vulnerable in the sense that it is in the hands of a third-party system.

Fortunately, since there are no geographical limits to cloud storage, you can choose best in class security providers that major international companies also trust. Ultimately, your data is more secure in the hands of a third party who have security front of mind in their everyday work, so you should be confident to rely on managed cloud specialists.

 

What are the benefits of cloud storage?

The data you save to the cloud is far more secure than it is on your own hard drive. Cloud servers are housed in warehouses offsite and away from most employees, and they are heavily guarded. In addition, the data in those servers is encrypted, which makes hacking it a laborious, if not formidable, task for hackers.

The front line of defense for any cloud system is encryption, which uses complex algorithms to conceal cloud-protected information. To decipher encrypted files, would-be hackers would need the encryption key, which requires a huge amount of computer processing power, forensic software, and a lot of time to decipher.

Another benefit to storing data on the cloud is cost effectiveness and ease-of-access. You can store a lot more data using the cloud compared to physical devices and at a much lower cost, so you can see why cloud storage has become a popular option for businesses and consumers alike.

Other security benefits of storing data on the cloud include:

  1. Governance – Maintenance of physical security and physical hardware
  2. Highly Durable – Up to 9 nines of durability on AWS S3 for instance
  3. Encryption at rest and in Transit – are best practices – key management yourself or via provider
  4. Granular Access controls – to allow read\write access to data
  5. MFA – Multi Factor Authentication can often be enabled
  6. Replication across multiple geographic areas – for resilience and reducing latency in edge locations
  7. Content Delivery Networks – Again for reducing latency in edge locations around the world
  8. Version Control – To record ongoing data changes and enable rollback
  9. Hybrid Storage Solutions – Combining On-Premises speed with scalable cloud storage
  10. Low Cost – Cost per GB per month from $0.004 (Archive Storage Glacier) or $0.023 (Standard S3 Storage with 99.999999999% durability)

As you can see, there are a lot of benefits!

To discuss putting some of these benefits in place for your company’s cloud environment, speak to a managed cloud specialist at Digital Craftsmen.

 

What are the risks of cloud storage?

Cloud security is tight, but it’s not infallible. Hackers can get into those files, whether by guessing security questions or bypassing passwords. This is why they should take into careful consideration the exact compliance and security requirements of cloud users, as well as the optimal way to guarantee data protection in case of transnational data storage.

The code-hosting platform Code Spaces showed that an attack by hackers can lead to the downfall of a business. The reputation of Code Spaces was in ruins after an attack led to data loss of several key customers. After this, the company was not financially feasible to resolve the security leak and compensate clients for the damage caused by the cyberattack. The downfall of Code Spaces demonstrates that information security is vital for cloud service providers.

Another risk with cloud storage is privacy. Even if data isn’t stolen or published, it can still be viewed. Governments can legally request information stored in the cloud, and it’s up to the cloud services provider to deny access.

Tens of thousands of requests for user data are sent to Google, Microsoft, and other businesses each year by government agencies. A large percentage of the time, these companies hand over at least some kind of data, even if it’s not the content in full.

 

What services do cloud services providers offer to help keep data secure?

Cloud services providers have some of the most secure platforms available. After all, it’s their business to keep their clients’ data and information secure.

The security capabilities that these cloud providers implement to ensure data protection and network security include:

  • firewalls
  • intrusion-detection systems
  • denial of service solutions.

In case hackers do get access to the network of a cloud provider, providers increasingly use automated threat detection in combination with rapid-response forensics tools to reduce the time between detection of unauthorised access and actually resolving the consequences of a hack.

The accountancy firm PWC also advise in their whitepaper on cybersecurity that the identity and access management of the staff of cloud services providers means that only those that need it have restricted access to customer data.

 

How can you keep your cloud data secure?

Information security is achieved by implementing a suitable set of controls, including policies, processes, procedures, organisational structures and software and hardware functions. It is achieved using a combination of suitable strategies and approaches:

  • Determining the risks to information and treating them accordingly
  • Protecting CIA (Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability)
  • Securing people, processes and technology

These controls need to be established, implemented, monitored, reviewed and improved, where necessary, to ensure that the specific security and business objectives of the organisation are met.

You can also read our guide to securing online products and services with security best practices for further advice.

For more information about keeping your data secure in the cloud, download our free guide: “The Security Mindset”.

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