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How secure is the Cloud?
How secure is the Cloud?, Cloud security is a cyber security discipline aimed at protecting systems running in the cloud. It; It involves keeping data private and secure across online infrastructure, applications, and platforms. Securing these systems involves the efforts of cloud providers and users of the systems, regardless of whether they are individuals, small to medium-sized businesses, or organizations.
Cloud providers host services on their servers through always-on internet connections. Cloud security methods are used to keep customers ‘data private and secure, as their business depends on customers’ trust. However, cloud security is partially in the customer’s hands. Understanding both sides of this concept is crucial to a healthy cloud security solution.
Cloud security basically consists of the following categories:
Identity and access management (IAM)
Management (policies to prevent, detect and mitigate threats)
Data retention (DR) and business continuity (BC) planning
Cloud security may be similar to the old IT security concept, but it is a different approach. Before we get into the details, let’s take a look at what cloud security is.
What is cloud security?
Cloud security; It is a suite of technologies, protocols and best practices that protect cloud computing environments, applications running in the cloud, and data stored in the cloud. In addition to understanding exactly what is protected, system aspects that need to be managed are at the top of protecting cloud services.
Backend development against vulnerabilities in general is mostly in the hands of cloud service providers. Customers should focus mostly on proper service configuration and safe usage habits, as well as selecting a security-conscious provider. In addition, customers must ensure that end-user equipment and networks are properly secured.
The full scope of cloud security is designed to protect, regardless of your responsibilities:
Physical networks – routers, electric power, cables, climate controls, etc.
Data storage – hard drives etc.
Data servers – basic network computing hardware and software
Computer virtualization structures – virtual machine software, presentation machines and guest machines
Operating systems (OS) – software that supports all computer functions
Agent software – application programming interface (API) management
Execution environments – execution and maintenance of a running program
Data – all information stored, changed and accessed
Applications – traditional software services (email, tax software, productivity program groups, etc.)
End user equipment – computers, mobile devices, Internet of Things (IoT) devices
Thanks to cloud computing, the rate of each customer having these components can vary greatly. This can make the extent of the customer’s security issues uncertain. It is very important to understand how they are grouped together in common, as cloud security can be different depending on who has authority over the components.
In summary, components running in the cloud are secured from two main points of view:
1. Types of cloud services are offered by third-party providers as modules used to build the cloud environment. You can manage a different degree of components within the service, depending on the type of service:
At the core of the third-party cloud service is the provider that manages the physical network, data storage, data servers, and computer virtualization structures. The service is stored on the provider’s servers and virtualized through the provider’s network managed internally, and offered to customers remotely accessible. This reduces the costs of hardware and other infrastructures, allowing customers to access their computing needs from anywhere via internet connectivity.
Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud services allow customers to access applications hosted and run entirely from the provider’s servers. Providers; manages applications, data, uptime, agent software, and operating system. Customers only need to get their apps. Examples of SaaS include Google Drive, Slack, Salesforce, Microsoft 365, Cisco WebEx, and Evernote.
Platform as a Service cloud services provide a host for customers to develop their own applications; these applications are run on the provider’s servers within the customer’s own “sandbox”. Providers manage uptime, agent software, and operating system. Customers’ task is to manage their applications, data, user access, end user devices and end user networks. Google App Engine and Windows Azure are examples of PaaS.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud services offer customers hardware and remote connectivity structures to accommodate their compute volumes up to the operating system. Providers manage core cloud services only. Customers duty; to secure everything collected in an operating system, including applications, data, runtimes, middleware, and the operating system itself. In addition, customers must manage user access, end user devices, and end user networks. Examples of IaaS are Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE), and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
2. Cloud environments are distribution models in which one or more cloud services create a system for end users and organizations. These separate management responsibilities, including security, between customers and providers.
Cloud environments currently used are:
Common cloud environments consist of multi-tenant cloud services, such as an office building or coworking space, where a customer shares a provider’s servers with other customers. These are third-party services run by the provider to gain access to customers over the network.
Private third-party cloud environments rely on the use of a cloud service that allows the customer to use their cloud privately. These single-tenant environments are normally owned, managed and operated offsite by an external provider.
Private on-premises cloud environments also consist of single-tenant cloud service servers but run from their own private data centers. In this case, this cloud environment is run by the business itself to provide full configuration and setup for each feature.
Very cloudy environments involve the use of two or more cloud services from separate providers. These can be any mix of public and / or private cloud services.
Karmab cloud environments consist of a mix of private third-party cloud and / or on-premise private cloud data center with one or more public clouds.
From this point of view, we can understand that cloud-based security may differ slightly depending on the type of cloud space users are working on. However, the effects of this are felt by both individual and corporate customers alike.
How does cloud security work?
Each cloud security measure works towards doing one of the following:
Ensuring data recovery in case of data loss
Protecting storage and networks against malicious data theft
Avoiding human errors or carelessness that cause data leaks
Mitigating any data or system vulnerabilities
Data security is the part that includes the technical aspects of threat prevention in cloud security. Tools and technologies allow providers and customers to add barriers between access and view of sensitive data. Encryption is one of the most powerful tools available. Encryption encrypts your data so that it can only be read by someone with the encryption key. If your data is lost or stolen, it cannot be read effectively and becomes meaningless. Data transit protections (eg virtual private networks [VPNs]) are also emphasized in cloud networks.
Identity and access management (IAM) deals with the accessibility features offered to user accounts. The user’s authentication and authority management are also valid here. Access controls prevent both legitimate and malicious users from entering and exposing sensitive data and systems. Password management, multi-factor authentication, and other methods are also covered by IAM.
Administration; focuses on principles to prevent, detect and mitigate threats. With SMB and organizations, features such as threat intelligence can help locate and prioritize threats to ensure critical systems are carefully protected. But even individual cloud customers can benefit without valuing safe user behavior principles and training. These are mostly valid in corporate environments, but safe usage rules and threat intervention can be beneficial for all users.
Data retention (DR) and business continuity (BC) planning include technical disaster recovery measures that can be used in the event of data loss. At the heart of DR and BC plans are methods for data redundancy, such as backups. It can also be helpful to have technical systems to ensure uninterrupted operations. Structures for validating backups and detailed employee recovery instructions are as valuable as a complete BC plan.
Legal compliance is about protecting user privacy as set by legislatures. States emphasize the importance of preventing private user information from being used for profit. In this regard, organizations must comply with regulations in order to adhere to these principles. One approach is to use data masking that hides identities in data with encryption methods.
What makes cloud security different?
Traditional IT security has evolved greatly due to the transition to cloud-based computing. While cloud models provide more convenience, new measures are required to keep always-on connections secure. Cloud security as modernized cybersecurity stands out among classical IT models in several ways.
Data storage: The biggest difference is that older IT models are heavily dependent on on-site data storage. Over a long period of time, organizations have found that building entire in-house IT structures for detailed and specific security audits is costly and rigid. Cloud-based builds helped reduce system development and maintenance costs, but also took some control from users.
Scaling speed: Similarly, cloud security requires unattended attention when scaling enterprise IT systems. Cloud-centric infrastructure and applications are very unitary and can be mobilized very quickly. While this feature makes systems equally adaptable to organizational changes, an organization’s need for upgrade and convenience outstrips their ability to keep up with security technologies.
End user system interface: Cloud systems are connected to many other systems and services that need to be secured for both corporate and individual users. Access permissions must be maintained from the end user device level to the software level and even the network level. In addition, providers and users should be alert to the security vulnerabilities that they may cause due to unsafe setup and system access behavior.
Proximity to other network-based data and systems: Since there is a permanent connection between cloud systems, cloud providers and all users of these providers, this important network can put even the provider itself at risk. In networking environments, a single powerless device or component can be maliciously used to affect other devices and components. Cloud providers expose themselves to the threats of many end users with whom they interact, regardless of whether they provide data storage or other services. Additional responsibilities for network security rests entirely with the providers in the end-user systems rather than the products themselves offered differently.
Solving most cloud security issues means that both personal and business environments must protect users and cloud providers’ roles in cybersecurity. This two-pronged approach means that users and providers must collectively address the following issues:
Safe system configuration and maintenance.
User safety training in both behavioral and technical aspects.
Cloud providers and users must be transparent and reliable to ultimately ensure the security of both parties.
Cloud security risks
What are the security issues in cloud computing? If you do not know what these problems are, how will you take appropriate action? After all, poor cloud security can expose users and providers to all kinds of cybersecurity threats. Some common cloud security threats include:
Cloud-based infrastructure risks, including incompatible traditional IT structures and third-party data storage service outages.
Internal threats of human error, such as misconfiguration of user access controls.
External threats almost exclusively caused by malicious factors such as malware, phishing, and DDoS attacks.
The biggest risk with cloud is the lack of perimeter network. Traditional cybersecurity focuses on protecting the environment, but cloud environments are highly connected, which means that insecure APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and account stealing can lead to real problems. Cybersecurity professionals facing cloud computing security risks should take a data-centric approach.
Interconnectedness also creates problems for networks. Malicious agents often hijack networks through compromised or weak credentials. Once a hacker manages to gain access, he can easily expand and use interfaces that are not adequately protected in the cloud to find data in different databases or nodes. They can even use their own cloud servers as a target to export and store the data they have stolen. So security should be in the cloud, not just to protect access to your cloud data.
Storing your data by third parties and accessing data via the internet also pose a threat. If these services are interrupted for any reason, you may lose access to data. For example, an outage in the telephone network could mean that you cannot access the cloud at a crucial moment. In addition, power outages can affect the data center where your data is stored, causing possible permanent data loss.
Such interruptions may have longer term effects. A recent power outage at the Amazon cloud data facility caused data loss for some customers as the servers suffered hardware damage. This is a good example of why you should have local backups of at least some of your data and apps.
Why is cloud security important?
In the 1990s, business and personal data were stored locally, and security was local. The data was stored on the internal storage of a home computer and, if you work for a company, on the company’s servers.
The advancement of cloud technology has forced everyone to reevaluate the issue of cybersecurity. Your data and applications travel between local and remote systems, in an environment where internet access is always available. If you access Google Docs on your smartphone or use Salesforce software to serve your customers, this data can be kept anywhere. So protecting them becomes more difficult than preventing unwanted users from accessing your network. Some old IT applications need to be adjusted for cloud security, but this issue has become much more serious for two important reasons:
Convenience instead of security. Cloud computing is rapidly growing as a primary method for both business and individual use. The innovations enabled the new technology to be implemented faster than industry security standards could meet, while placing users and providers more responsibility for assessing accessibility risks.
Centralization and multi-tenant storage. Every component, from basic infrastructure to small data such as emails and documents, can now be found and accessed remotely via 24/7 web-based connections. All this data collected on the servers of several major service providers can be extremely dangerous. Attackers can now target large multi-agency data centers and cause massive data breaches.
Unfortunately, malicious attackers realized the value of cloud-based targets and began to exploit them more. Cloud providers do not manage everything, despite the security roles they play for customers. This obliges even users with insufficient technical knowledge to educate themselves on cloud security.
However, users are not alone in their cloud security responsibilities. Being aware of the scope of your security tasks will help make the whole system more secure.
Cloud security issues – privacy
Laws have been enacted to help protect end users from the sale and sharing of their sensitive data. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) restrict the ways in which data is stored and accessed while performing their task to protect privacy.
Identity management methods such as data masking have been used to separate identifiable attributes from user data for GDPR compliance. Organizations such as healthcare facilities must ensure that their providers for HIPAA compliance are also doing their part to restrict data access.
The CLOUD law provides cloud providers with their own legal restrictions on which they can adhere, which will likely cost a breach of user privacy. US federal law now allows federal-level law enforcement to request data requested from cloud provider servers. While this can allow investigations to proceed effectively, it can lead to breach of some privacy rights and abuse of power.
Securing the Cloud
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to protect your data in the cloud. Let’s take a look at a few of the popular methods.
Encryption is one of the best ways to protect cloud computing systems. There are several different ways to use encryption and these can be offered by a cloud provider or a separate cloud security solutions provider:
Communication encryption across the cloud.
Encryption of particularly sensitive data such as account credentials.
End-to-end encryption of all data uploaded to the cloud.
There is a greater risk of data being compromised while moving in the cloud. When moving between one storage location and another or being transferred to your app, your data is vulnerable. That’s why end-to-end encryption is the best cloud security solution for sensitive data. With end-to-end encryption, your communications will not be accessible to outsiders at any point without your encryption key.
You can encrypt your data yourself before storing it in the cloud, or use a cloud provider to encrypt your data as part of the service. However, if you only use the cloud to store non-sensitive data such as corporate graphics or videos, end-to-end encryption can provide more than enough security. On the other hand, it is vital for financial, confidential or commercially sensitive information.
If you are using encryption, remember that it is very important to manage your encryption keys securely and securely. Keep a spare key and don’t keep it in the cloud if possible. You may also want to change your encryption keys regularly; so if someone can access them, when you switch to another key, the system will be locked.
Configuration is another application that is strong in cloud security. Many data breaches in the cloud are caused by underlying security vulnerabilities such as incorrect configuration errors. By preventing these errors, you will greatly reduce your cloud security risks. If you are unsure whether you can do this alone, you may want to consider using a separate cloud security solutions provider.
Below are some of the principles you can apply:
Never leave the default settings as they are. Using the default settings leaves the hackers open. Avoid doing this in order to complicate hackers from getting into your system.
Never leave cloud storage groups open. This way, hackers can only view the content by opening the URL of the storage group.
If the cloud vendor gives you security checks that you can open, use them. Not choosing the right security options can put you at risk.
Basic cyber security tips should also be added to cloud applications. Even if you are using the cloud, you should not ignore standard cybersecurity practices. Therefore, if you want to stay as safe as possible in the online world, you might want to consider doing the following:
Use strong passwords. Using a mixture of letters, numbers, and special characters will make it difficult to crack your password. Try to avoid common uses such as replacing the S with the $ symbol. The more random your strings are, the better.
Use a password manager. You can set separate passwords for each application, database and service you use and do not have to remember them all. However, you should be absolutely sure to protect your password manager with a strong master password.
Protect all the devices you use to access your cloud data, including smartphones and tablets. If you’re syncing your data across multiple devices, any of them could be a weak link putting your entire digital footprint at risk.
Back up regularly so that you can restore your data completely in the event of an outage or data loss with your cloud provider. This backup can be on your home computer, an external hard drive, or even from the cloud to the cloud, as long as you are sure that neither cloud provider is sharing infrastructure
Change permissions to prevent anyone or device from accessing all your data unless necessary. For example, businesses do this through database permission settings. If you have a home network, use guest networks for your kids, IoT devices, and television. Save your “access to all areas” card for your own use.
Protect yourself with antivirus and malware protection software. If malware gets on your system, hackers can easily access your account.
Avoid accessing your data using a public Wi-Fi connection, especially if it is not using strong authentication. But use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect the cloud gateway.
Cloud storage and file sharing
Cloud computing security risks can affect everyone, from businesses to individual customers. For example, consumers can use the cloud to store and backup files (using SaaS services such as Dropbox), utilize services such as email and office applications, or create tax forms and accounts.
If you are using cloud-based services, especially if you are working as a consultant or freelancer, you may also need to consider how you will share cloud data with others. While sharing files on Google Drive or another service is an easy way to share your work with customers, you may need to check if you manage permissions properly. Ultimately, you want to ensure that different customers can’t see each other’s names or directories or change other people’s files.
Note that most of these common cloud storage services do not encrypt data. If you want to keep your data safe with encryption, you should use encryption software to do so before uploading the data. You then need to give your customers a key otherwise they won’t be able to read the files.
Check the security of your cloud provider
Security should be one of the key considerations when it comes to a cloud security provider. Your cybersecurity is no longer your sole responsibility: Cloud security companies must do their part to create a secure cloud environment and share responsibility for data security.
Unfortunately, cloud companies don’t give you blueprints of network security. This is equivalent to a bank giving you the details of their vaults, along with the safe’s password.
However, getting the right answers for some basic questions gives you more confidence that your cloud assets will be safe. In addition, you will be more aware of whether your provider is dealing properly with significant cloud security risks. We suggest you ask your cloud provider some of the following questions:
Security audits: “Do you regularly carry out external checks on your security?”
Segmentation of data: “Is customer data logically segmented and kept separately?”
Encryption: “Is our data encrypted? What parts of our data is encrypted?”
Storage of customer data: “Which customer data retention policies are applied?”
Retention of user data: “If I leave your cloud service, will my data be completely deleted?”
Access management: “How are access rights controlled?”
Also, be sure to read your provider’s terms of service (TOS). Reading the TOS documentation is very important to understand that you are getting exactly the service you want and need.
Do not forget to learn about all services used with your provider. If your files are backed up on Dropbox or iCloud (Apple’s storage cloud), it could mean they’re actually stored on Amazon’s servers. That’s why you should check AWS as well as the service you are using directly.
Hybrid Cloud Security Solutions
Hybrid cloud security services are a very smart choice for SMB and corporate customers. These solutions are generally very complex for personal use and are best suited for SME and corporate applications. However, these organizations can still use the on-site control of certain data and the scale and accessibility of the cloud.
Some of the advantages of hybrid cloud security systems include:
Segmentation of services can help organizations control how they access and store data. For example, keeping sensitive data on-premises while transferring other data, applications, and processes to the cloud can help you appropriately layer its security. Also, separating data can make it more compliant with your organization’s data regulations.
Backup can also be performed through hybrid cloud environments. By taking advantage of the daily operations of public cloud servers and backing up systems on local data servers, organizations can continue their operations in the event of a data center being taken offline or ransomware threat.
SME Cloud Security Solutions
While businesses may insist on using a private cloud (the internet equivalent of owning an office building or facility), individuals and small businesses have to work with public cloud services. It’s like sharing an office or living in an apartment with hundreds of other tenants. So your security should be of primary importance.
In small and medium business applications, you can see that cloud security is mostly at the partner providers you use.
However, there are some precautions you can take to keep yourself safe:
Multi-tenant segmenting of data: Businesses must ensure that their data cannot be accessed by other customers of cloud vendors. Make sure that partitioning precautions are appropriate regardless of whether it is hosted on partitioned servers or carefully encrypted.
User access controls: Checking permissions can mean restricting user access to an inappropriate level. However, going back to restrictions and working backwards to find a balance is much safer than letting weak permissions penetrate your network.
Legal data compliance: It is very important to ensure that your data complies with international regulations such as the GDPR, to avoid severe penalties and damage your reputation. Make sure that measures such as data masking and classification of sensitive data are a priority for your organization.
Scaling cloud systems carefully: Remember to check your organization’s systems for security rather than convenience, as cloud systems are implemented quickly. Cloud services can expand rapidly to non-regulation points.
Enterprise Cloud Security Solutions
Cloud security is a vital part of corporate cybersecurity, as cloud computing is now used by more than 90% of large businesses. Private cloud services and other more costly infrastructures may be suitable for enterprise-level organizations. But make sure your in-house IT staff maintains your entire surface area of your networks.
Cloud security can be much more flexible for large-scale enterprise use if you invest in your infrastructure.
There are a few important points to note:
Actively manage your accounts and services: If you are no longer using a service or software, turn it off accordingly. Hackers can access an entire cloud network by accessing old and unused accounts through unrepaired vulnerabilities.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA): This can be biometric data such as a fingerprint or a password and separate code sent to your mobile device. While it may be time consuming, it is useful for your most sensitive data.
Consider the costs and benefits of the hybrid cloud: Segmentation of your data is much more important in enterprise use as it enables you to process much larger amounts of data. You must ensure that your data is kept separate from other customers’ data, whether it is encrypted separately or logically partitioned for separate storage. Hybrid cloud services can help you with this.
Be wary of confidential IT: Training your employees to avoid using unauthorized cloud services on your networks or for corporate business is essential. If sensitive data is sent over unsafe channels, your organization may be vulnerable to malicious or legal issues.
That’s why it is essential to make sure your network and devices are as secure as possible, whether you are an individual user, SMB user or even an Enterprise-level cloud user. It starts with a good understanding of basic cybersecurity at an individual user level and ensuring that your network and all your devices are protected using a robust security solution built for the cloud.