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Security Analysis: Cloud Computing Solutions

Security Analysis: Cloud Computing Solutions

Overview of the advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing solutions, and the data security threats IT professionals need to know.

Friday, January 10, 2014/Categories: cloud-insurance

Infonetics Research estimates that the cloud security industry is expected to grow by almost 11 percent annually for the next two to three years as more and more users store data online and have higher demands for their security.

What does this increase in cloud-based data security mean for your IT business? Do you need to change the cloud computing solutions you adopt for your business and your clients? Let's take a look at some of the advantages and lingering disadvantages of cloud computing.

A Cloud Network Can Secure Mobile Devices

Forbes Magazine author Dan Woods argues cloud security is all about finding the right balance of traditional on-premise IT solutions and cloud solutions.

Woods points out that mobile devices create a huge problem for data security. As soon as an employee takes a mobile device to a network outside a secure office environment, they’re exposed to new security challenges. IT professionals can't watch over devices everywhere all the time, but cloud networks can make sure that when employees access data remotely, they do so through a secure portal.

In this way, cloud applications and services answer a huge security concern that plagues in-house IT teams. Through the cloud, you can secure phones, tablets, laptops, and numerous other portable devices, no matter where they are.

4 Disadvantages of Cloud Computing

IT professionals know the importance of being skeptical – whenever someone tells you cloud networks are the answer to your data security problems, you greet the claim with a healthy dose of skepticism. You live in the real world, after all.

While cloud computing architecture is, in some ways, more secure, there are still many legitimate concerns about data security on a cloud network, including…

  • Security to scale. One challenge cloud providers face is that cloud security requirements change minute by minute. What happens when many users start accessing cloud-based data at the same time? In addition to performance concerns, there are significant security issues. A cloud provider's security infrastructure has to expand to accommodate these data "rush hours." That kind of scalability can be hard to pull off and lead to potential security lapses.
  • New technology, new risks. Cloud technology is a new (or new-ish) phenomenon, which means it gets a lot of press, but also means there are many unknowns. Researchers have already found ways to gain admin access to Amazon's cloud servers, and more security weaknesses are no doubt waiting to be discovered.
  • Complacency. Once businesses outsource their infrastructure to the cloud, they may begin to feel comfortable with their data security – too comfortable. Indeed, it’s easy to think that because you use Amazon’s EC2 service, you have some of the best and brightest IT professionals working on your security. But there are still plenty of old-fashioned threats. Passwords can be stolen, codes can be cracked, and software can certainly still be hacked. As this recent phishing scheme targeting Dropbox users demonstrates, those old security problems never go away. (For tips on avoiding data breaches, check out our article “How to Protect Data: Data Breach Solutions.”)
  • Coordination. Many companies run "hybrid clouds," meaning they use public clouds, private clouds, and a mix of traditional in-house IT solutions. This mix-and-match strategy is natural, but means there are chokepoints where security layers have to interact, which can cause problems. When a user accidentally downloads data from the cloud onto their hard drive, you have suddenly crossed a security threshold.

While cloud networks continue to grow, there are still significant concerns about data breaches, and rightfully so.

As I pointed out at the beginning of the article, the cyber security industry is growing. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean the Internet is getting safer. It means that hackers are getting smarter and businesses are becoming more aware of the threats they face each day.

IT professionals are responsible for preventing data breaches for themselves and their clients. They can be sued when such breaches occur. To learn more about these lawsuits, read our article "What is Cyber Liability?" and see how Cyber Liability Insurance can protect your small business.

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