What Is Cloud Computing Security?

There are many providers for this service; therefore, you must choose it wisely. A fast internet connection is required for cloud computing, as you will need access to your files stored on the respective servers in any given moment of day or night. With cloud storage, you will have safety of data, and you will be sure that your files and important documents are always protected. You will only have to pay for the resources that you are using, so cloud computing can also be considered a money saving opportunity.

There are several services offered by cloud computing companies, including cloud security. The most common files stored with this technology are video and audio streaming files, but those companies also offer virus filtering, cloud storage, email marketing, etc. You should use cloud technologies if you want to save money for your company, as the system is fast and reliable. It is the ultimate safety feature, especially when it comes to cloud computing security.

You will have access to your files from every part of the world, at any moment, using a simple password, even from mobile devices. Whenever you need extra space, the provider can easily modify your package, so your account could accommodate new files and documents. Moreover, some of those companies allow you to modify the files yourself, so you would be able to make those modifications instantly.

Cloud technology has become affordable during the latest years, so it is now suited for personal usage. If you don’t have hard disk space on your computer to store your games and files, you can find a company that is able to offer you the needed space, with the cloud computing technology. You will have access to the respective files with a simple internet connection, and the cloud computing space would appear as another drive on your computer. With this facility, you can offer access to your files for other persons, with the help of a simple password and username.

The future of cloud computing is bright, especially with the new companies conducting researches in this area. it is believed that, in the near future, the majority of storage space would be available with this method. Some internet companies try to develop operating systems based on this technology, meaning that you will be able to access your operating system practically from any corner of the world. With this technology, the computers would start instantly, allowing you maximum mobility and reliability.

What Is Cloud Computing and Its Types?

For many of us clouds still remain the fluffy white things that float in the sky or the darker fluffy things that bring thunderstorms and rain. Well, today there is more to clouds than being fluffy and to float in the sky. Cloud computing has given us a new way to perceive clouds. There was an era when we relied on portable drives, hardware and pen drives to very large extent and how we used to almost have stroke if we misplaced these precious data holders. Cloud computing reduces the stroke rate that one might get on losing a portable hardware. It is a service that one can subscribe to and get a network storage space and computer resources.

Cloud computing is similar to your e-mail account which you can access from any corner of the world as long as you are connected to the internet. The only difference is that with cloud computing you can choose from the information that is accessible within the cloud. The essentials that you need to get information from cloud computing is an internet connection on any device ranging from a personal computer to a tablet. Just like your email is not housed on your device physically, the information on cloud computing is also not housed on your device physically.

The convenience that cloud computing brings to the users is immense. To start with it’s the best deal for upcoming businesses and start up organizations. It helps these budding ventures to make the best out of the limited resources have and give them a chance to stand up well established organizations that have a stock of hardware and software. It also serves well for people seeking to use it for their personal work. With the number of devices that one person owns today it might get a little messy to keep a track of the data one might have saved on either the phone or the laptop. Cloud computing helps one to cut through the clutter and becomes a kind of data bank.

There are different types of clouds that can suffice you needs. There is the Public, Private, Community and Hybrid cloud, each with its own specifications so to cater to the needs of different people. Public clouds are accessible to all the subscribers with an internet connection and access to cloud space. Private clouds are set up for specific groups or organizations. Community clouds are set up between two or more organizations that have similar cloud requirements. Lastly, hybrid clouds have the qualities of two types of clouds at the least. The combinations depend on requirements of the people or the organizations.

Cloud computing certainly is futuristic as long as you know that your service provider has taken all the necessary precautions and safety measures.

Security Challenges for Cloud Computing – How Prepared Are You?

Cloud computing is here, and has been embraced by many an organization. Cloud computing as defined by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is “a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.” [1]. Cloud computing is basically about outsourcing IT resources just like you would outsource utilities like Electricity or water off a shared public grid. The cloud services options include:

Software as a Service (SaaS): Whereby the consumer uses the cloud provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure and the applications are accessible from various client devices through a thin client interface such as a web browser (e.g., web-based email).

Platform as a Service (PaaS):Here the consumer deploys their own applications on the provider’s infrastructure. This option allows the customer to build business applications and bring them online quickly they include services like, Email Campaign management, Sales Force Automation, Employee management, Vendor management etc…

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The consumer has access to processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems; storage, deployed applications, and possibly limited control of selected networking components (e.g., host firewalls).

Cloud computing has become popular because, Enterprises are constantly looking to cut costs by outsourcing storage, software (as a service) from third parties, allowing them to concentrate on their core business activities. With cloud computing, enterprises save on setting up their own IT infrastructure which would otherwise be costly in terms of initial investment on hardware and software, as well as continued maintenance and human resource costs.

According to the Gartner report on cloud security [2], Enterprises require new skill set and to handle the challenges of cloud security. Enterprises need to see to it that their cloud service provider has most of “the boxes ticked” and that they have their security concerns addressed. Cloud computing being a somewhat a new field of IT with no specific standards for security or data privacy, cloud security continues to present managers with several challenges. There is need for your provider to be able to address some of the issues that come up including the following:

Access control / user authentication: How is the access control managed by your cloud service provider? To be more specific, Do you have options for role based access to resources in the cloud,? How is the process of password management handled? How does that compare to your organization’s Information security policy on access control?

Regulatory compliance: How do you reconcile the regulatory compliance issues regarding data in a totally different country or location? How about data logs, events and monitoring options for your data; does the provider allow for audit trails which could be a regulatory requirement for your organization?

Legal issues: Who is liable in case of a data breach? How is the legal framework in the country where your cloud provider is based, visa vi your own country? What contracts have you signed and what issues have you covered/discussed with the provider in case of legal disputes. How about local laws and jurisdiction where data is held? Do you know exactly where you data is stored? Are you aware of the conflicting regulations on data and privacy? Have you asked your provider all the right questions?

Data safety: Is your data safe in the cloud? How about the problems of Man-in-the-middle attacks and Trojans, for data moving to and from the cloud. What are the encryption options offered by the provider? Another important question to ask is; who is responsible for the encryption /decryption keys? [3]. Also you will find that cloud providers work with several other third parties, who might have access to your data. Have you had all these concerns addressed by your provider?

Data separation / segregation: Your provider could be hosting your data along with several other clients’ (multi-tenancy).. Have you been given verifiable assurance that this data is segregated and separated from the data of the provider’s other clients? According to the Gartner report, its a good practice to find out “what is done to segregate data at rest,” [2]

Business continuity: What is the acceptable cloud service down time that you have agreed with your provider? Do these down times compare well with your organization acceptable down time policy? Are there are any penalties/ compensations for downtime, which could lead to business loss? What measures are in place by your provider to ensure business continuity and availability of your data / services that are hosted on their cloud infrastructure in case of disaster? Does your provider have options for data replication across multiple sites? How easy is restoring data in case a need arises?

Cloud services providers have increased their efforts in addressing some of the most pressing issues with cloud security. In response to cloud security challenges, an umbrella non-profit organization called the Cloud Security Alliance was formed, some of its members include: Microsoft, Google, Verizon, Intel, McAfee, Amazon, Dell, HP, among others, its mission is “To promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within Cloud Computing, and provide education on the uses of Cloud Computing to help secure all other forms of computing” [4]

As more and more organizations move to the cloud for web-based applications, storage, and communications services for mission-critical processes, there is need to ensure that cloud security issues are addressed.

References

1. National Institute of Standards and Technology, N., Cloud Computing definition, I.T. Laboratory, Editor. 2009.
2. Gartner (2008) Assessing the Security Risks of Cloud Computing
3. Rittinghouse, J.W. and J.F. Ransome, Cloud Computing: Implementation, Management, and Security. 2009., New York: Auerbach Publications.
4. Alliance, C.S. Cloud Security Alliance. 2011; Available from: https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/.