Ever since someone first coined the term “digital transformation,” businesses have been discussing the topic of cloud security.
At first, the idea of exchanging on-premises infrastructure that you could physically lock up at night in favor of trusting sensitive data to managed cloud security was a big leap of faith. Even though some of those fears have been quelled, with Flexera reporting 63% of the workloads and 62% of the data storage for SMBs (Small-to-Midsized Businesses) expected to reside in the public cloud this year, the question, “Is my data safe?” still lingers in the back of business leaders’ minds.
With regulatory compliance challenges increasing worldwide, keeping your data secure is only one piece of the puzzle. Your cloud security posture now needs to account for compliance with HIPAA, PCI-DSS, GDPR, and more. Cloud services that offer compliance in the cloud are a necessity.
Of course, there are few guarantees in life (and maybe fewer in IT), but the potential for better visibility and resiliency built into cloud solutions align better to modern security postures. If you’re skeptical (and you certainly aren’t alone in that), here is a list of seven facts about cloud storage that might help put your mind at ease about data privacy and security in the cloud.
1. Your Cloud Service Provider Is an Expert at Cloud Security and Data Privacy
Your business may have its own IT team, but they have a whole host of responsibilities that don’t fall under the “security team” umbrella. Staying up to date with the latest real-time threat detection practices may quickly fall by the wayside as other priorities make demands on their time.
Cloud providers, meanwhile, are constantly investing in cloud security management. They utilize industry standards for network and web application security solutions to protect your data at every level of computing. Along with that, they help you build in security controls and access management, including multi-factor authentication (MFA) to restrict access control and ensure that only authorized users can access key platforms, applications, and sensitive information when login credentials fall into the wrong hands. Furthermore, data encryption renders your data unreadable to those who don’t have the decryption key, even if it’s intercepted.
Cloud providers also invest in advanced technologies that use sophisticated algorithms for continuous security monitoring and automatic response to security threats. They can act immediately if an intrusion is detected and have the capacity to shut down part of their systems to protect overall security while an investigation or mitigation occurs. This can often stop a cyberattack before it occurs, or at least drastically reduce the scale of the data breach.
These resources, capabilities, and operations far exceed what your business or enterprise can likely accomplish on its own, and easy scalability protects your organization as you grow.
RELATED: Protect Your Company With These Core Elements of Data Security and Privacy
2. Your Cloud Provider Can Help You Shut Down Ransomware
Ransomware attacks, in which a cybercriminal gains access to a business’s system or files and holds them for ransom, are prevalent. Sophos reports that 51 percent of organizations surveyed were hit by a ransomware attack in 2019. In 73 percent of cases, the cybercriminals encrypted data and sent a message that the organization had to pay for the decryption key – and 26 percent paid the ransom.
Cloud environments have the advantage of greater resiliency if a ransomware attack occurs. Since cloud infrastructure is easier to scale at a lower price, you’ll have the advantage of cloud network offsite backups, “air-gapped” storage, and/or replicated VMs (virtual machines) – and at a much lower cost than building on your own infrastructure.
Further, cloud providers can typically repair their systems and restore data to the point in time before the attack occurred, thereby avoiding the need to pay a ransom (and with little-to-no data loss). Great cloud infrastructure is built for business continuity because statistically, if you haven’t experienced an attack yet, you will soon.
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3. Top Cloud Providers Have Excellent Physical Security
While being able to see your own physical servers and lock them up at night might give you a tangible sense of relief, there are also some substantial risks to storing all your sensitive data on site. An on-premises system is more vulnerable to unauthorized access, malicious actions, and misuse, particularly by disgruntled employees.
By contrast, when you leverage a cloud service provider, your data is stored off-site in a data center, potentially very far from your physical location, often with enhanced physical security measures such armed security teams, fencing, security cameras, thick walls, and even biometric scanning devices.
4. The Cloud Is Resilient Against More “Ordinary” Threats, Too
When most people think about data protection, they are chiefly concerned about data breaches, ransomware, and security risks from malicious actors. But data loss isn’t always the result of a cyberattack. Often, the culprit is something much more mundane. For example:
Hardware failure (often due to aging equipment that isn’t upgraded or maintained in a timely fashion)
Storm damage or flooding
Failure of your climate control systems
We could go on, but you get the point.
Cloud facilities themselves are designed so that they can continue to operate if disaster strikes. Cloud service providers leverage redundant power, internet, cooling, and hardware (alongside fire protection, air filtering, etc.) to reduce single points of failure so when it comes to disaster recovery, you may not even be aware there had been a disaster!
5. Cloud Providers Attract and Retain Top Talent
The IT talent shortage makes it difficult to find skilled, experienced security services professionals in the first place, and then to retain them in a highly competitive atmosphere. Research from the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)2, found that 37 percent of organizations believe a lack of qualified security management resources is holding them back from faster cloud adoption.
However, major cloud providers like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) can attract top talent, building teams of the most qualified security experts recruited from major universities and government agencies to bring you built-in cloud security services.
Furthermore, the big-name cloud providers don’t employ one or two experts who may become quickly overwhelmed with a growing cloud security workload. Instead, they leverage teams of experts covering a breadth of specialties who collaborate to protect customer systems and ensure data security in the cloud environment.
RELATED: Ensuring Cloud Security and Compliance for Your Business
6. Cloud Service Providers Comply With Even the Strictest Industry Regulations
Businesses and organizations in highly regulated industries, such as healthcare, finance, or legal, must meet strict compliance standards when using cloud computing. Cloud service providers have established multi-layered security strategies that not only meet these mandates but also allow customers to opt into regulatory compliance requirements like HIPAA, PCI, Soc2 Type 2, ITAR, and more at a lower cost than commissioning the audits themselves.
This isn’t just a benefit for regulated customers; even if your industry is more loosely regulated, you greatly benefit from your cloud providers’ expertise and understanding of when it’s appropriate to opt into better security and when it’s not.
RELATED: 5 IT Compliance Trends to Keep an Eye On
7. You Have Lots of Options When It Comes to Your Cloud Platform
Businesses that are unfamiliar with cloud computing might be tempted to think that they have two basic options to choose from: cloud and “not cloud,” with limited control over what you get with the cloud option. But there are many levels of cloud computing available to choose from, based on the needs of your business.
At a high level, the basic cloud platform options include:
Public cloud. All cloud resources and cloud storage are owned and operated by a third-party provider (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, etc.). Although you might be worried about sharing server space with other companies, public clouds tend to be highly secure and reliable in practice due to the large network of servers and disaster recovery measures in place.
Private cloud. In this platform, the cloud computing resources (hardware and software) are all housed on servers that are exclusive to your organization and run behind your own firewall. This allows your business greater control and configuration, including your cloud security posture, at the cost of comparatively less resiliency and scalability versus the public cloud.
Hybrid cloud. This approach uses the public cloud for certain workloads, while using private cloud or on-premises infrastructure for more.
On top of that, you can break the public cloud down further based on how you want to divide up the responsibilities between your company and the cloud provider:
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS). You provide the operating system, applications, software (and the data it runs on), while the cloud provider is responsible for the hardware (servers and data storage, networking, virtualization, etc.). In other words, you rent the servers and storage space, but bring just about everything else yourself.
Platform as a service (PaaS). In addition to the infrastructure, the cloud provider also supplies a software development platform.
Software as a service (SaaS). In addition to everything above, the cloud provider also supplies the data and applications. (For example, you don’t need to provide your own word processor application, because you use Google Docs.)
In other words, you have a lot of choice in terms of how much cloud computing services you need, and a good cloud services provider can work with you to build solutions that make sense for your business goals, staffing capacity, budget, and cloud security posture.
Establish a New Comfort Zone
Even after reading this post, you might still find it difficult to have unwavering faith that a provider is ensuring the highest possible data security in the cloud. And this can be especially true when you can’t see physical infrastructure or know exactly what’s happening behind the scenes. But if that is the case, you may find it reassuring to know that Virtual Systems is 100% committed to education and transparency.
For additional information about how cloud providers address security, you can always check out our FAQs about protecting data. Along with that, you might want to see ways that Virtual Systems makes security a pillar of our services. If you’re interested in learning more about how your most valuable asset—your data—is continuously protected through our cloud technology, others find our Advanced Cloud Security page to be helpful. (If you have specific interest in compliance and regulatory matters, you could stop by our Compliance in the Cloud page.)
Of course, we also have a team of cloud security experts who are happy to answer your questions and go through this subject with you. To connect with us, it only takes a second to fill out our contact form. We’ll be in touch, and you can get all the answers you need!
(ISC)2. 2020 Cloud Security Report. Retrieved from https://www.isc2.org/landing/cloud-security-report
Sophos. The State of Ransomware 2020: Results of an independent study of 5,000 IT managers across 26 countries. Retrieved from https://www.sophos.com/en-us/medialibrary/Gated-Assets/white-papers/sophos-the-state-of-ransomware-2020-wp.pdf
Flexera. (2022, March 9). Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report. City, ST: Name of Publishing Organization. Retrieved from https://www.flexera.com/about-us/press-center/2022-state-of-the-cloud-report-by-flexera
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