Why are businesses switching to the Cloud?
More and more businesses are switching to the Cloud to store their data and rightly so. The Cloud offers numerous beneﬁts over the traditional, physical on site server. For example:
- Anytime, anywhere access to your data: Information in the Cloud can be accessed from anywhere using an internet connection, unlike in the case of traditional servers, where you need a physical connection to the servers.
- Signiﬁcant cost savings: You cut hardware costs, because you are not investing in physical hardware.
- Shared storage means more cost savings: The Cloud lets you share space with others while maintaining a secure environment in general. It follows a ‘pay-as-you-use’ approach to data storage allowing you to enjoy cost savings based on your data storage needs, unlike the traditional options where you had to pay for and purchase a whole new server if your data storage needs exceeded the existing capacity.
- Similar to HaaS, Software as a Service is the option to lease specific software from a Managed Services Provider as opposed to the Capital Expenditure that would be required to purchase the software outright. An example of SaaS is procuring Microsoft licensing through a Managed Services Provider as opposed to purchasing the licensing from Microsoft directly. This provides flexibility and consistent updates as opposed to purchasing a particular version of the software and keeping track of an applicable update cycle. compatibility and support: The Cloud allows the use of Software-as-a-Service since the software can be hosted in the Cloud.
- Scalability: The Cloud lets you scale up and down as your business needs change.
- 24/7 monitoring, support, and greater access reliability: When your data is in the Cloud, the Cloud service provider is responsible for keeping it safe and ensuring it is securely accessible at all times. They monitor the cloud’s performance and in the event of any performance issues, they provide immediate tech support to resolve the problem.
Is the Cloud really risk-free?
While all the above-mentioned factors make the Cloud a very attractive choice, especially for SMBs who don’t want to be burdened with higher in-house IT costs, putting your data in the Cloud is not completely risk-free. Just as storing data on physical servers has its security threats, the Cloud presents certain security concerns as well. These include:
- Data breaches: A data breach is when your data is accessed by someone who is not authorized to do so.
- Data loss: A data loss is a situation where your data in the Cloud is destroyed due to certain circumstances such as technological failure or neglect during any stage of data processing or storage.
- Account hijacking: Like traditional servers, data in the Cloud could be stolen through account hijacking as well. In fact, Cloud account hijacking is predominantly deployed in cybercrimes that require identity thefts and wrongful impersonation.
- Service trafﬁc hijacking: In a service trafﬁc hijacking, your attacker ﬁrst gains access to your credentials, uses it to understand the online activities that happen in your domain and then uses the information to mislead your users or domain visitors to malicious sites.
- Insecure application program interfaces (APIs): Sometimes, Cloud APIs, when opened up to third parties, can be a huge security threat. If the This is an acronym for Application Programming Interface. In order for two applications to interface (communicate with each other) there must be an Application Programming Interface available to coordinate the communication. Various applications provide a standardized API which allow a programmer to link the applications together for seamless interaction. keys are not properly secured, it can serve as an entry point for cybercriminals and malicious elements.
- Poor choice of Cloud storage providers: A security lapse from the Cloud storage provider’s end is a huge security concern for businesses. It is very important to choose a trusted and experienced Cloud service provider who knows what they are doing.
Apart from the above, there are some common threats that apply to both the Cloud and traditional data storage environments such as a DDoS attack, or a Malware is short for “Malicious Software” and is typically coded and designed by cybercriminals for the intel to corrupt a machine, system or gain access to a network. Malware is most commonly created and sold on the Dark Web. attack where your data in the Cloud becomes susceptible because it is being shared with others and at other places.
3 key steps to take to protect your data from the security threats presented above
- Secure access: The ﬁrst step would be to secure access to your data in the Cloud. So, how do you go about it? Safeguard your login credentials (your User IDs and passwords) from prying eyes, use strong password policies that are practiced across the board, and educate your employees about good password hygiene. Also, do you have employees using their own devices to access their work-related applications and documents? Do you have staff working from home? Then, you also need to formulate strong This acronym stands for Bring Your Own Device, which refers to an employee bringing their personal smartphone, laptop or tablet in lieu of company-provided equipment. A BYOD policy can make employees happy, but it also presents many other issues that should be explicitly addressed by employers before it becomes adopted. The biggest issue that companies face revolves around how to secure their data on the device and protect it from misuse. However, bringing your own device is not just an (Bring-your-own-device) policies, so these devices don’t end up as the entry point to cybercriminals.
- Educate your employees: What’s the ﬁrst thing that pops into your head when someone talks about cybercrime? You probably picture some unknown person, a tech-whiz sitting behind a computer in a dark room, trying to steal your data. But, surprising as it may seem, the ﬁrst and probably the biggest threat to your data and IT security in general, comes from your employees! Malicious employees may do you harm on purpose by stealing or destroying your data, but oftentimes, employees unwittingly become accomplices to cybercrime. Some examples include:
- Forwarding an email with an attachment that contains a virus
- Clicking on a Phishing is a social engineering event where a cybercriminal attempts to receive personal information, like a credit card number or bank account information through email, phone or SMS text messaging by posing as a legitimate person or institution. Typically, this is the first step involved in identity theft or financial loss. link unknowingly and entering sensitive information therein
- Compromising on security when they share passwords or connect to an unsecured or open WiFi at public places
- A lot of time cybersecurity breaches happen when employees function with a view to “get things done faster”, but, without realizing how disastrous the implications of such actions can be.
- Choosing the right Cloud service provider: If you are putting your data in the cloud, you need to make sure that it is in safe hands. It is your Cloud service provider’s responsibility to ensure your data is secure and accessible. But, are they doing all that is needed to ensure this happens? It is very important to choose a trustworthy Cloud service provider because you are essentially handing over all your data to them. So, apart from strengthening your defenses, you need to check how well-prepared they are to avert the threats posed by cybercriminals.
Cloud security mechanisms
- Cloud ﬁrewalls: Much like the ﬁrewalls you deploy for your local IT network, Cloud ﬁrewalls work to prevent unauthorized Cloud network access.
- Penetration testing: Penetration testing is a sort of a Cloud security check where IT experts try hacking into the Cloud network to ﬁgure out if there are any security lapses or vulnerabilities that could serve cybercriminals.
- Obfuscation: In obfuscation, the data or program code is obscured on purpose such that the system delivers unclear code to anyone other than the original programmer, thus mitigating any malicious activity.
- Tokenization: Tokenization is the process of replacing sensitive data with unique identiﬁcation symbols that retain all the essential information about the data without compromising its security.
- Virtual Private Networks (VPN): Another, more commonly used mechanism is the VPN. VPN creates a safe passage for data over the Cloud through end-to-end Encryption is the process of converting a message or email from original text to a completely coded text so that the content is not viewable to read to unauthorized parties. methodology.
Investing in a good Cloud security system is a must, but, in the end, you also need to remember that Cloud security is not only about antivirus software, ﬁrewalls, and other anti-malware tools. Complete Cloud security is a blend of all these plus internal policies, best practices, and regulations related to IT security, and of course, the So, what is a MSP anyways? A Managed Services Provider, or MSP, acts as an extension to your own team to offer on-demand IT support and carry the responsibility of all IT logistics, which could include: cybersecurity, infrastructure, licensing, software and hardware recommendations, purchasing and set up, etc. An MSP can also help keep you aligned on IT rules and regulations so that business owners can run their business without the worry of meeting regulatory requirements. you choose to be your Cloud security provider plays a key role in all this. You need to pick the right MSP and work closely with them to implement a Cloud security solution that works for you.
At Accelerate, we’re happy to assess your situation and advise the best route for your organization. Let’s talk about how safe, secure and accessible your data really is! Contact our team today 317-596-3650!