Top Cloud Computing Security Issues for Large Enterprises
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 05:06 Written by GtoRMan Wednesday, 01 August 2012 04:42
Cloud computing has become one of the top trends in enterprise, giving businesses the ability to store their data and programs offsite, and giving workers access to everything they need no matter where they are located. This offers flexibility to companies who have multiple locations around the globe, for example, or for those who want to give employees additional work flexibility.
But the benefits also come with drawbacks, primarily in the realm of security. Storing data offsite in the cloud can leave your company open to security threats—but you can decrease the probability of data being compromised if you take some precautions when choosing a cloud vendor and training employees.
Most large enterprises engage the services of an outside vendor to store and secure their data. Variations in cost and usability should influence your vendor decision, but security should be at the top of the list when comparing vendors. Some of the issues that you should consider include:
- Location-When you use an outside vendor for your cloud storage, you might not know exactly where your data is stored. This could be a problem if your data is stored in a country with lax security or privacy rules. When choosing a cloud vendor, ask where the data will be stored, and if possible, specify the location for your data.
- Employee Security-As a business owner or manager, you have some control over the security protocols put into place when hiring your own people, such as background checks. When working with a vendor, though, you have no control over the vendor’s hiring processes. Find out who will have access to your data, and the security procedures used in hiring and training those individuals
- Segregation and Encryption-Chances are, when you engage the services of a cloud vendor, your data will be stored alongside the data of dozens (or more) other customers. Ask about how the data is segregated—and whether the data is encrypted, so on the off chance that someone access your data, it is unreadable. However, end to end encryption isn’t enough. The data needs to be encrypted while in the cloud, in e-mails and in the backup and recovery files.
- Audits and Compliance-Only engage vendors that allow customers to perform their own security audits, to ensure security compliance. Vendors should be willing to provide evidence of their security methods.
While choosing the right vendor helps ensure the security of your data in the cloud, much of the responsibility for security falls to employees. Properly training and educating employees on how to keep information secure offers protection at the front line.
- Passwords-Study after study has shown that on average, user passwords are only moderately effective at best. Develop a company policy regarding passwords and their required strength, or use a program to develop random alphanumeric combinations to ensure password security. Discourage employees from saving their credentials in mobile devices, to prevent unauthorized access in the event that the device is lost or stolen.
- Train Employees in Cloud Security-A recent study indicated that fewer than 20 percent of companies that use cloud computing provide training to employees—including managers—on the data security in the cloud. As a result, data is left vulnerable, a situation that could be devastating to a large company. Companies need to provide proper training in cloud security, and limit access from those who do not have the proper security clearance.
- Proper Information Classification-The same study conducted by Symantec and the Ponemon Institute found that one reason there is lack of data security in the cloud is that many employees aren’t aware of what should be classified as sensitive or proprietary data and how that data should be handled. Protecting data needs to be treated as a matter of policy, and all employees working within the cloud need to know exactly how to keep data safe and secure.
In May 2012, Microsoft released a survey indicating that privacy and security is the primary concern for users of cloud computing systems. While no system is 100 percent foolproof—by taking important precautions to protect your data, the cloud can be a safe place to store and manage your data.
About the Author:
Lawrence Avery is a computer security analyst and veracious blogger. He has worked in the IT industry for the last 16 years and classifies himself as a, “total tech nerd.” When he is not saving computer networks from malicious individuals he enjoys fly fishing and barbequing.
Photo courtesy of mch67 from 123rf.com
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