Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power without direct active management by the user. The term is generally used to describe data centers available to many users over the Internet. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping you lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.
There are three basic types of cloud services:
- Software as a service (SaaS)
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
- Platform as a service (PaaS)
Cost: Cloud computing eliminates the capital expense of buying hardware, software and setting up and running on-site datacenters. The racks of servers, the round-the-clock electricity for power and cooling, and the IT experts for managing the infrastructure adds up fast.
Speed: Most cloud computing services are provided as self service and on demand, so even vast amounts of computing resources can be provisioned in minutes, typically with just a few mouse clicks. Giving businesses a lot of flexibility and taking the pressure off capacity planning.
Scale: The benefits of cloud computing services include the ability to scale elastically. For an example, computing power, storage, bandwidth—right when they’re needed
Productivity: On-site datacenters typically require a lot of “racking and stacking”—hardware setup, software patching, and other time-consuming IT management chores. Cloud computing removes the need for many of these tasks, so IT teams can spend time on achieving more important business goals.
Performance: The biggest cloud computing services run on a worldwide network of secure datacenters, which are regularly upgraded to the latest generation of fast and efficient computing hardware. This offers several benefits over a single corporate datacenter, including reduced network latency for applications and greater economies of scale.
Reliability: Cloud computing makes data backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity easier and less expensive because data can be mirrored at multiple redundant sites on the cloud provider’s network.
Data privacy: Because your data is stored elsewhere, it might be impossible to know just how closed off it is. How can you be sure no one can access it when you don’t maintain the servers it’s stored on? When you migrate sensitive data to the cloud, be aware that you might be losing essential privacy controls.
Lack of control: On one hand, you won’t have to manage your data – on the other hand, somebody else will. If something affects your storage provider, like outages or malware infections, that will directly impact access to your data. You’ll have to rely on the provider to fix the issues. The more time your data spends unprotected, the more at-risk it becomes.
Shared servers: Cloud storage providers don’t build specific servers for each user; the server space is shared between different customers as needed. You may be putting your data at risk if others using your servers upload potentially anomalous or hazardous information.
Lack of backup services: One of the biggest complaints storage systems receive is that they don’t offer automatic backup functionality. Instead, they expect you to make backups of the data you store on the cloud yourself. To be fair, this issue doesn’t affect every storage provider – some will automatically provide backups of your data for you. However, those that don’t provide backups also don’t give you a safety net in the event of sudden data loss.
Data leakage: Data leakage can cause serious problems since it could expose business-critical or private data to external sources. Even if you take steps to prevent anyone in your enterprise from leaking data, your storage provider might accidentally expose your data to the wrong person.
Rogue devices: The devices that access your data are also a potential source of danger. Many companies are embracing BYOD culture, which certainly has its benefits. This means, though, that more worker-owned devices will access your storage provider, which poses a big security risk if one of those devices happens to be dangerous.
APIs and storage gateways: Some enterprises use cloud storage APIs or storage gateways to help them migrate their data onto the cloud. These tools act as a middleman between the user and the storage provider. They may help your workers access and manage the data on your cloud, but an insecure API or gateway might cause a lot of damage to your data. If you want or need to use a storage API or gateway, make sure you choose one that has reputable security features.
How to make cloud services more secure:
Backup Data Locally: One of the most important things to consider while managing data is to ensure that you have backups for your data. It is always good to have electronic copies of your data so you can continue accessing them even if the original gets lost or corrupted. You can either choose to back them up in some other cloud storage or manually back up in an external storage device.
Avoid Storing Sensitive Information: it is always advisable to avoid storing information such as passwords, credit/debit card details etc. on the cloud. Sensitive information could also be intellectual property such as patents and copyrights. Even if we take every possible precaution to protect them, these kinds of information can land in another individual/company’s data management system somehow, which in turn can lead to potential data leakage.
Use Cloud Services that Encrypt Data: Always look for cloud storage services that offer local encryption for your data. This provides double security as the files will have to be decrypted to gain access. This method protects your data even from service providers and administrators.
Encrypt Your Data: Before you upload your files onto the cloud, it is always beneficial to encrypt your data, even if the cloud storage automatically encrypts them.
Install Anti-virus Software: Sometimes the problem is not cloud security but the system you have logged in from. Hackers can easily access your account if there is no proper protection in place for your system. In such cases you are exposing yourself to viruses that provide penetration points.
Make Passwords Stronger: It’s very important to use strong passwords to prevent your files from being hacked. It is also important to change them frequently, and not share it with anyone. Use multi factor authentication to confirm the authorized users.
Test the Security Measures in place: Do penetration tests and security assessments. These assessments are as much important on cloud as they are off cloud. If it is possible for you to gain unauthorized access to your own data, chances are that someone else can too.
Adopting a few security measures from our end, like the above, can go a long way in maintaining safe files on and off cloud.