Each and every day, more and more companies are migrating much of their data storage and transmission to the cloud. Those organizations joining in this movement have plenty of evidence to support their decisions. Cloud computing offers a more cost-effective way to manage your vital business data, while transitioning that data to the cloud provides you with greater flexibility in the utilization of your network storage space, allowing you to stay more competitive.
If recent statistics on cloud spending are any indication, this trend will only continue in the immediate future. Data shared by IHS technology earlier this year estimated that the spending for the development of more cloud infrastructure and services would exceed a staggering $174 billion in 2014. Not only are those numbers an industry high, but they also represent an increase of 20% over 2013 figures.
Yet the apparent mad rush to move to the cloud has left some wondering if this technology may be growing just a little too fast. The concern is that few realize just how much trust is being placed in the capability of a relatively new technology to deliver levels of security sufficient enough to protect data from would-be attackers. Those familiar with the methods of those attackers know that they don’t simply sit around waiting for the latest advances in cyber security technology to catch up to them. Rather, they’re constantly looking for new ways to work around current network security protocols as well as trying to anticipate the moves that developers will attempt to make in an effort to block their incursions. This savvy group of miscreants is what cloud providers are up against, and virtual networks teeming with valuable business and personal data that are often spread out over multiple hosts and data centers with limited capabilities to investigate issues are no doubt viewed as attractive targets.
Cloud Security Issues
The truth is that cloud technology is flush with security concerns. Remember that this technology was developed to improve end-user convenience. Oftentimes, the pursuit of such convenience comes at the expense of oversight. Many may feel as though the increased efficiencies that cloud solutions can offer make dealing with the potentially security concerns an acceptable risk (and in many cases, they may be right). Still, organizations can’t afford to be blind to them.
An understanding or the unique risks associated with the cloud environment only comes from having a firm grasp on what an organization is really doing when they choose to adopt such technology. In essence, you’re outsourcing the management of much of your sensitive data. Moving such information out from underneath your organizational umbrella also removes your ability to directly manage its security. All organizational controls that your management and IT teams have over it are suddenly made irrelevant. Granted, you’re not placing into the hands of novices when you select a cloud services provider, yet you’re placing a great deal of trust in that provider’s ability to protect it, as well as in their motivation to do so.
Are Providers Able to Mitigate Security Risks?
Yet that’s not to say that no cloud service provider is up to the task. On the contrary, given their familiarity with the ins and outs or their industry, they may be among to most capable at delivering the right level of security you need in order to be confident in your decision to rely on cloud computing. While a recent increase in the size and scope of attacks on cloud networks may serve to hinder your confidence in the industry’s overall ability to protect itself, there are many cloud service providers out there who’s forward think years ago prepared them to better be able to deal with today’s attack methods.
Your challenge, then, is being able to find such a provider. That’s no easy task given the growth this service industry has seen in recent years. Yet that recent growth may just be the key to you identifying the right cloud service provider for your organization. In general, those providers with the most operational experience tend to be the ones that also are the most reliable when it comes to dealing with security concerns. That’s not discounting the abilities of newer cloud service firms to protect your data; rather it merely can help give you a starting point from which to develop your list of must-haves for your cloud computing partner.
Yet more important than experience is an understanding of the security risks unique to the cloud. Your initial interactions provide you with the ideal opportunity to assess their comprehension and ability to deal with these risks. Keep your conservations focused on the following topics:
- Data location: When your data is stored in the cloud, you’re most likely not going to know where it actually is. You can, however, request that your provider only store and process your data in jurisdictions of your choosing.
- Segregation: Believe it or not, but encryption is not the all-encompassing answer to keeping your data segregated from that of other users on a shared network. In fact, encryption can actually complicate data availability. Therefore, you need assurances that a provider’s data segregation schemes have been tested and verified by industry experts.
- Recovery: Given the fact that no provider can guarantee 100% network availability, you need to know that your provider is replicating data and application infrastructure across various sites in order to be able to run effective recovery in the event of server failures.
- Oversight: Even though you’re placing your data into the service providers hands, you remain responsible for ensuring it’s security and integrity. Thus, you should be able to certify a provider’s security controls before entering into a service agreement.
- Long-term outlook: Neither you nor your potential provider knows what tomorrow will bring. Thus, you need to know that your data will still made available should they ever interrupt their operations, and how that data will be moved to a replacement application.
Utilizing the cloud for many of your business data solutions will continue to be an attractive and perfectly reasonable option going forward. Yet it’s important to remember that cloud computing isn’t the end-all business solution that many of its proponents make it out to be. Thus, the decision to adopt cloud technology into your business model is one that should be made only after careful consideration has been given to the many benefits and security concerns inherent with this option. Fortunately, resources are available to help guide you and your management team in this decision. Hanei Marketing is one such resource whose experience and expertise is cloud strategies can be relied upon when considering cloud adoption.
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