Ever since someone 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 see and lock up at night in favor of a far-off data center or server farm was a big leap of faith. Even though some of those fears have been quelled and 83 percent of workloads were expected to be cloud-based this year, the question, “Is my data safe?” still lingers in the back of business leaders’ minds. According to (ISC)2’s 2020 Cloud Security Report, data security concerns and risks of data loss and leakage still hold back 35 percent of organizations from cloud adoption.
Of course, there are few guarantees in life (and maybe fewer in IT), but the potential for better security, more resilient infrastructure, perfect application uptime, and stronger data resiliency are more likely in the cloud than onsite. If you are a skeptic, here is a list of five facts about cloud providers and partnerships that might help put your mind at ease about data security in the cloud.
1. Your Cloud Service Provider is an expert at cloud security
Cloud providers are focused on their core business: Cloud. Businesses, on the other hand, e.g., healthcare providers, financial institutions, government agencies, manufacturers, or retailers, focus on their own core business: not cloud. An enterprise may have its own IT team, but it is not 100 percent focused on cloud and cybersecurity. Cloud providers are, and they make substantial investments in providing secure cloud products.
In addition to iron-clad physical security, often including retina scanners or armed guards, cloud providers use best-of-breed network and web application security solutions to protect data at every layer of computing. They also help you build in user authentication, including multifactor authentication (MFA), to ensure that only the right people can access platforms, applications and data, even if login credentials fall into the wrong hands.
Cloud providers also have advanced technology and dedicated resources to monitor their systems continuously for abnormal activity. They can act immediately and swiftly if an intrusion is detected and have the capacity to shut down a part of their systems to protect overall security while an investigation or mitigation occurs.
These resources, capabilities and operations far exceed what a business or enterprise can accomplish on its own and they’re made more affordable by economies of scale.
2. Cloud providers attract top talent.
The IT talent shortage makes it difficult to find skilled, experienced cybersecurity professionals – and to retain them in a highly competitive atmosphere. The (ISC)2 research found that 37 percent of organizations believe a lack of qualified security resources is holding them back from faster cloud adoption.
Major cloud providers can attract top talent, building teams of the most qualified security experts to protect their clients’ data and applications. Furthermore, they don’t employ one expert who may become quickly overwhelmed with a growing security workload. Leading cloud providers leverage teams of experts covering a breadth of specialites who collaborate to protect customer systems and ensure data security in the cloud.
3. Cloud providers comply with even the strictest industry regulations.
Businesses and organizations in highly regulated industries, such as healthcare, finance, or legal, must meet strict standards when using cloud solutions. Cloud providers have established multilayered security strategies that not only meet these mandates but also allow customers to opt into 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; customers in more loosely regulated industries also benefit from cloud providers expertise by having the expertise at hand when needed and understanding when it’s appropriate to opt into better security and when it’s not.
4. Ransomware has nothing on cloud data.
Ransomware attacks, in which a cybercriminal gains access to a business’ 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 users have the advantage of greater resiliency if a ransomware attack occurs. Since cloud infrastructure is easier to scale at a lower price, many businesses who have adopted cloud have built offsite backups, “air-gapped” storage, and/or replicated VM’s at a much lower cost than building in on their own infrastructure. They can repair their systems and restore their data to the point in time before the attack occurred, avoiding paying a ransom with little to no data loss. Great cloud infrastructure is built for resiliency because statistics say the worst will probably happen to everybody eventually.
5. Overall resiliency is paramount.
Also, remember that data loss isn’t always the result of an attack; a natural disaster can also wipe out data stored on site. Hardware fails for many reasons. Retrieving data from a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution can take a significant amount of time – and only to the point in time when the last backup occurred. Cloud solutions can make it possible to establish operations in a new location, log in, and continue working with little or no delay.
Cloud facilities themselves are designed so that they can continue to operate if disaster strikes. Good cloud providers leverage redundant power, internet, cooling, and hardware to reduce single points of failure so when bad things happen, users aren’t even aware.
Establish a New Comfort Zone
It may still be hard to have unwavering faith that a provider is ensuring the highest possible level of data security in the cloud when you can’t see physical infrastructure or know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes. It may be helpful to reassure yourself and your leadership team how your cloud provider addresses security. Talk to your cloud service provider to learn more about why infrastructure, applications and data in the cloud is the safest place for them to be.