Even just a few years ago, the notion that the cloud would ever be much more than an alternate storage vector for less-than-crucial data was almost outlandish. It didn't take long, however, before new opportunities emerged, and provided users with a banquet of new possibilities to choose from. From cloud-based video to cloud-based voice service and far beyond, the cloud became the new crowd favorite for businesses of all sizes. The need to protect these systems has likewise never been clearer, and we turn to cloud security to provide the necessary protection for our increasingly cloud-based lives.
Things Cloud Security Can't Do
Cloud security's ability to protect systems is well-known even now, but there are some myths surrounding the platform that need to be addressed.
The cloud is inherently unsafe.
This myth started back in the earliest cloud days, and was one of the biggest points cloud providers had to debunk. It quickly became clear that cloud providers had to offer security that almost amounted to overkill just to convince potential users the cloud wasn't just waiting to be descended upon by hackers.
The cloud is a perfect hacker target.
Yes, the cloud is somewhat less safe than, say, an air-gapped PC. But the notion that the cloud is an inherent hacker target because it's not on the user's premises is an expression of data security hubris. Cloud-based systems may not be on the user's premises, but they are on the cloud provider's premises, and that's all the incentive providers need to protect the systems under their compensated care.
The cloud is too new to trust.
While some applications of cloud systems are new, the underlying technology of cloud-based systems goes back to the early days of the internet. Not the 1990s commercial internet, either; the original 1950s internet. That's technology that's been around longer than some of us have been alive, and gives it a whole new veracity.
Things Cloud Security Can Do
Cloud security also comes with a wide range of benefits.
Multi-factor authentication is pretty much just what it sounds like—an authentication system using multiple factors like a password and a separate PIN sent in a text message. It provides powerful security for users by making it more difficult to breach the system. A hacker might get a password, but would they also have access to your smartphone texts?
Improved access control.
Cloud-based systems allow for exciting improvements in access control. Almost like a treehouse with a rope ladder, access to that ladder can be restricted to only those you want to have access. Getting illicit access to that ladder is a process comparatively more difficult than accessing a normal system, so using cloud systems can make for greater access control.
Improved access point security.
We often think of cloud in terms of the thing we access, but we don't think so much about how we get to the access point. Cloud security can provide additional help for the access points by way of behavioral web application firewalls, which helps determine if the HTTP requests coming into the cloud system are legitimate, or instead should be rejected.
Mid-Size Businesses Should Especially Love Cloud Security
Mid-sized businesses should be especially pleased with cloud security and cloud-based operations thanks to some benefits that address their unique circumstances.
Enterprise-level access on a monthly bill.
Cloud-based systems can be a great way to access tools that only enterprise-level users could afford previously. These systems were often only available to those who could afford to buy the hardware needed to run them internally. With cloud-based systems and cloud security, these functions are available for a monthly fee, and can often be adjusted according to a firm's needs at the time.
Better insider protection.
Remember that bit earlier about access control? How it improves in the cloud? Since some reports note that insiders are some of the biggest threats the mid-market business faces, using cloud security systems to tighten access control removes a lot of the insider threat. Not completely, of course, but there's a significant boost to protection just by controlling who can get in.
Everyone benefits from greater transparency in security—more frequent alerts and notifications to potential issues—but the mid-market business perhaps benefits most of all. While they don't have the resources the enterprise user does, they have many of the same security headaches. Greater transparency helps act as a separate set of eyes that can run around the clock; that's a point your IT security staff will appreciate, as will your bottom line when you don't have to pay for a staff that works similarly around the clock.
Compliance May Be a Cloud Security Package Away
While not everyone will need to be concerned about compliance with security regulations, cloud security can help provide measures that make a system compliant.
For instance, some cloud security systems are inherently compliant with established standards. Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example, is compliant with not only the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), but also FedRAMP, the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) standards and more. Though there are also points the AWS user must adhere to, AWS tools will be a significant help.
The basics of cloud security also contribute to compliance with security standards.
Being able to better control who can access information and what can be done with it once it's accessed is at the root of a range of regulatory frameworks.
When You're Ready to Improve Your Cloud Security
That's a lot to take in, and cloud security is a big step to take. When you're ready to take the next step and make cloud security a real part of your business, drop us a line at UTG. Our 4-Layer Security Stack system helps provide vital clarity to your security approaches, and helps you determine what components to put in play and how to make them work together. We've got plenty more waiting, so get in touch and let us show you how the cloud can be a powerful security tool.