What Everyone Ought To Know…About Cloud Security
Organizations use the Cloud in a variety of different service models (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) and deployment models (Private, Public, and Hybrid). There are a number of security issues/concerns associated with cloud computing but these issues fall into two broad categories: security issues faced by cloud providers (organizations providing software-, platform-, or infrastructure-as-a-service via the cloud) and security issues faced by their customers.The responsibility goes both ways, however: the provider must ensure that their infrastructure is secure and that their clients’ data and applications are protected while the user must ensure that the provider has taken the proper security measures to protect their information, and the user must take measures to use strong passwords and authentication measures.
What you need to know:
- Identity management
- Every enterprise will have its own identity management system to control access to information and computing resources. Cloud providers either integrate the customer’s identity management system into their own infrastructure, using federation or SSO technology, or provide an identity management solution of their own.
- Physical security
- Cloud service providers physically secure the IT hardware (servers, routers, cables etc.) against unauthorized access, interference, theft, fires, floods etc. and ensure that essential supplies (such as electricity) are sufficiently robust to minimize the possibility of disruption. This is normally achieved by serving cloud applications from ‘world-class’ (i.e. professionally specified, designed, constructed, managed, monitored and maintained) data centers.
- Personnel security
- Various information security concerns relating to the IT and other professionals associated with cloud services are typically handled through pre-, para- and post-employment activities such as security screening potential recruits, security awareness and training programs, proactive security monitoring and supervision, disciplinary procedures and contractual obligations embedded in employment contracts, service level agreements, codes of conduct, policies etc.
- Cloud providers help ensure that customers can rely on access to their data and applications, at least in part (failures at any point – not just within the cloud service providers’ domains – may disrupt the communications chains between users and applications).
- Application security
- Cloud providers ensure that applications available as a service via the cloud (SaaS) are secure by specifying, designing, implementing, testing and maintaining appropriate application security measures in the production environment. Note that – as with any commercial software – the controls they implement may not necessarily fully mitigate all the risks they have identified, and that they may not necessarily have identified all the risks that are of concern to customers. Consequently, customers may also need to assure themselves that cloud applications are adequately secured for their specific purposes, including their compliance obligations.
- Providers ensure that all critical data (credit card numbers, for example) are masked or encrypted (even better) and that only authorized users have access to data in its entirety. Moreover, digital identities and credentials must be protected as should any data that the provider collects or produces about customer activity in the cloud.
- Legal issues
- Finally, providers and customers must consider legal issues, such as Contracts and E-Discovery, and the related laws, which may vary by country.
Numerous laws and regulations pertain to the storage and use of data, including privacy or data protection laws, Payment Card Industry – Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA), and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, among others. Many of these regulations mandate particular controls (such as strong access controls and audit trails) and require regular reporting. Cloud customers must ensure that their cloud providers adequately fulfil such requirements as appropriate, enabling them to comply with their obligations since, to a large extent, they remain accountable.
- Business continuity and data recovery
- Cloud providers have business continuity and data recovery plans in place to ensure that service can be maintained in case of a disaster or an emergency and that any data loss will be recovered.These plans may be shared with and reviewed by their customers, ideally dovetailing with the customers’ own continuity arrangements. Joint continuity exercises may be appropriate, simulating a major Internet or electricity supply failure for instance.
- Logs and audit trails
- In addition to producing logs and audit trails, cloud providers work with their customers to ensure that these logs and audit trails are properly secured, maintained for as long as the customer requires, and are accessible for the purposes of forensic investigation (e.g., eDiscovery).
- Unique compliance requirements
- In addition to the requirements to which customers are subject, the data centers used by cloud providers may also be subject to compliance requirements. Using a cloud service provider (CSP) can lead to additional security concerns around data jurisdiction since customer or tenant data may not remain on the same system, or in the same data center or even within the same provider’s cloud.
The Cloud has been quite beneficial for personal and business use and that comes with needing the knowledge of knowing how to keep yourself and business safe.
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