Cloud computing is gaining traction and users, and many in the business community are flocking to cloud-based services. But most businesses deal with information that they want to protect, and security questions are sure to arise as soon as they send information outside their physical facilities. It’s hard enough to ensure the security and safety of information that’s kept on-site; how much harder is it to keep data secure when it’s flying out to a server at some off-site location?
Security is a major point of concern for CIOs and IT managers as they consider cloud-based services, but evidence shows that it’s becoming a smaller issue for many of them. In a recent survey of businesses, only 3% cited security concerns (this is down from 11% last year) when it came to cloud computing. As users grow more comfortable with the concept of cloud-computing, they’re more likely to consider it as a trustworthy and valuable IT solution.
Last week we focused on cloud computing —what it is, and some of the benefits and downsides. In this post we’ll focus on some of the security concerns, and what you can do to keep yourself and your data safe while it’s in the cloud.
Some cloud computing security concerns
Data security is often cited as the big, BIG issue that has some companies reluctant to enter the cloud. Their concerns include:
● How do I know my data is safe, and that no one other than me can see my data?
● How do I ensure that the information transmitted over the network is secure?
● How do I control access to my systems?
● What jurisdiction does my data fall under? In other words, what country’s laws apply to the company that actually hosts your data?
● What happens to my data if the cloud-based service is terminated?
Best practices for securing your data
The good news is that none of these questions are new. Companies have built plans to protect their data since long before the Internet and cloud-computing became a mainstay. This means the same processes and safeguards that were used before the cloud can be transitioned into the cloud.
● For data, you can use encrypted file systems or databases.
● Implement a private key infrastructure (PKI) to securely transmit data across the network.
● Control access to your systems by implementing a strong password policy and access control lists.
● Guarantee the secure backup of your data at a facility distinct from the hosting provider.
Companies that combine all of these safety features can architect a secure networking and application environment.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of research, research, and more research. Companies offering cloud-based services should be able to easily point to their investment in your data’s security. For instance, Amazon Web Services (AWS) spends a lot of time informing clients on the steps they’ve taken. In fact, they’ve devoted a fair amount of their web site to detailing this information, which can be found here. Before you take advantage of a cloud service, be sure you’ve done your homework and satisfied yourself that the provider is just as concerned as you are with your data’s security.
Cloud computing is expected to be one of the biggest disruptive elements in business analytics and Big Data processing, and its applications are sure to spread from there. In fact, a quarter of IT executives surveyed said they expect to utilize public cloud services this coming year. With this explosion in demand, companies will have many opportunities to take advantage of cloud-based services that can lead to greater productivity and reduced total-cost-of-ownership. And with some careful planning at the outset, they can ensure the safety of their data as they entrust it to the cloud.