What is Cloud Security?
Cloud security is no singular entity—it’s an entire ecosystem of IT administrators, cloud processes and policies, and security solutions that protect the data and applications that live in the cloud. These security measures are put in place to not just protect the data, but also support regulatory compliance, ensure customers’ privacy, set authentication rules, and more.
In this way, cloud security is fully customizable to meet the unique needs of a business. Not to mention, configuration and authentication rules can be altered and managed from one spot, so if a business has a reliable cloud security strategy in place, they don’t have to spend precious time on managing their cloud environment.
Because sensitive customer and business data is stored in the cloud—and because more organizations are moving to the cloud overall—introducing a cloud security strategy has become imperative. Throughout the years, security criminals have evolved, launching more sophisticated, harder-to-detect attacks on organizations. Regardless of an organization’s cloud of choice, attackers have wisened up to ensure they breach even the biggest companies’ clouds.
Without a proper cloud security strategy in place, companies are more likely than not to face serious security issues in their cloud computing architecture. The following items describe some of the most common security threats and risks companies may encounter.
- Sensitive data loss: Much of the data that’s stored in the cloud is sensitive, private, or includes intellectual property. If a company’s cloud service is breached, cyber attackers can easily gain access to this data. But even without an attack, certain services can pose a risk if their terms and conditions claim ownership of the data uploaded to them.
- Loss of end user control: Without proper visibility and control, a company’s end users can unknowingly, or even willfully, put the organization at risk. Here’s an example: A salesperson who is about to resign from their current business decides to download a report of their customer contacts and upload that data to a personal cloud storage service. Once they’re hired by a competitor organization, they can leverage that data.
- Malware: Cloud services are prime targets for data exfiltration, or the process where a cyber attacker carries out an unauthorized data transfer from their computer. And unfortunately, these cyber criminals have come up with new, harder-to-detect data exfiltration methods, including both open and concealed methods.
- Contractual breaches: When business parties sign a contract, this often restricts how data is used and who has access to it. But if an employee moves restricted data into the cloud without authorization, the contract could be violating, leading to potential legal retaliation.
- Damaged reputation among customers: When your data is breached, inevitably, your customers are less likely to trust your organization. And without adequate trust, your organization may have to deal with revenue loss. Sadly, one of the most well-known card data breaches occurred with Target. When cyber attackers stole over 40 million customer credit and debit cards, one of the results was a loss of trust. Not to mention, a common result of lost customer trust is a phenomenon called “customer churn,” wherein customers decide to take their business elsewhere—even if they were happy, loyal consumers of the organization before the breach.
- Revenue loss: Ultimately, this is one of the most damaging consequences a company can and will face following a data breach. When a company’s customers lose trust in their ability to safeguard their sensitive financial information, their loyalties moves elsewhere, costing the breached company massive amounts of money. And not to mention, the average cost of a data breach is around $4 million, a fee many organizations simply can’t afford.
All cloud models are susceptible to threats, even on-premises architectures, which are traditionally known for being highly controllable, manageable, and secure. Unfortunately, as cyber criminals refine and strengthen their attacks, businesses must establish a robust, infallible cloud security strategy to protect against data theft, leakage, corruption, and deletion.
In the past, traditional, human IT security has been adequate enough to defend against security breaches. But nowadays, there’s little time or money to spend on round-the-clock human workers, and the tedium the work calls for inevitably leads to some lapses and gaps in the security protocol. Cloud security eliminates those concerns, delivering the functionality of traditional IT security and allowing businesses to harness the power of cloud computing while remaining secure and ensuring their privacy and compliance requirements are met.
While cloud security is beneficial to any cloud model, from private to public, it is especially beneficial for a multi-cloud environment. According to GigaOm, 92% of businesses have already moved to a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy thanks to its flexible, scalable nature.
While a multi-cloud environment isn’t, by default, more complex than other cloud operating system, it does require a fair amount of control and visibility through a “single pane of glass” to ensure it runs without common implementation failures.
However, maintaining complete visibility into a multi-cloud environment can be complex, often compelling many businesses to opt for cloud-dedicated specialists. And as complexity rises, so do the costs associated with maintaining the environment.
This lack of visibility can lead to unchecked security risks passing into the multi-cloud. Even with specialists on board, human error and increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks make ensuring round-the-clock security all but impossible. Implementing an automated cloud security measure is critical to ensure the safety of your multi-cloud system, all while minimizing the strain and costs associated with upkeeping a dedicated team of multi-cloud specialists.