Clarifying concerns about cloud computing

With the proper measures in place, cloud-based solutions are just as secure as other computing options, if not even more secure.

Based solely on headlines, it is easy to see how some people may find fault in cloud computing. After all, 32 percent of those not using the cloud said their reason for avoidance was security concerns, according to an August survey from Citrix and Wakefield Research.

However, those concerns may be unfounded. Western Digital, in an article written for Mashable, said that cloud-based solutions are just as secure as other computing options, if not even more secure.

According to Western Digital, one of the issues with the cloud stems from a perceived loss of control when data is stored remotely. Even though information is stored remotely does not mean it is less secure, as a company’s ability to always check on and maintain data can actually make cloud-based solutions more secure.

In addition, while outages can make it seem like the cloud is prone to failure, Western Digital said this issue is not limited to cloud computing. Companies are also encouraged to establish multiple backups for any essential resources as a matter of best practice.

“All in all, the cloud is usually more reliable than other hosted offerings,” according to Western Digital. “The problem is that for businesses that build all of their infrastructure on one cloud — or concentrate it in one location — downtime can be more problematic. The best thing business owners can do is look at having a backup strategy, just in case an outage occurs. That can mean having servers and load balances in separate locations or cloning or backing up data to separate services.”

Should it be required, a company can always add on additional layered security for its cloud-based offerings, instituting a more complete application control, the article said.

Best practices for securing the cloud

For companies looking to beef up the security surrounding their cloud-based solutions, there are a number of options available. According to InformationWeek, proper cloud security revolves around three principles – protecting the infrastructure, keeping the platform safe and taking necessary precautions with data.

When going forward with the cloud, companies should not exclusively rely on their vendors to handle the necessary security steps. Even though many cloud-based solutions do include some level of cybersecurity protection, it is up to the user to mitigate as much risk as possible, TechTarget reported.

The first step in protecting cloud-based solutions is to complete a proper security audit, according to CRN. This way, a firm can be proactive in stopping as many potential issues as possible before something negative happens.

Lance Spitzner, an instructor with the SANS Institute security research organization, told Forbes that password secrecy compliance and proper end user diligence pertaining to the sharing of information will help to maintain proper cloud security. Other measures that he recommended included having a two-step verification process for access, encrypting data before it is stored in the cloud and instituting a policy in which users have to manually allow for the sharing of information.

One of the best ways to secure the cloud, TechTarget reported, is to build a private cloud. In this way, a company can ensure that it receives the benefits of shared resources and remote access while also making sure that a quality security apparatus is in place from the beginning.

“Developing an appropriate security program for an organization in a conventional infrastructure that can then be extended to a private cloud environment adds another dimension to everything,” Von Williams wrote for CRN. “The reality is that, until you have developed, implemented and tested a comprehensive security program for your organization, your data may not be any safer at home, let alone in the cloud.”

How much application control do you have over your cloud computing solutions? What layered security measures do you have in place to protect the cloud you use? Leave your comments below to let us know how you’re handling cloud security concerns!

Kate Beckham

Kate has been lighting up the blogosphere for over 5 years, with a keen interest in social media and new malware threats. When not sitting at a café behind her Mac, you’ll usually find her scouring the racks for vintage finds or playing guitar.