Over the last decade, advancements in computing technology have led to the emergence of solutions such as cloud computing and the internet of things. Cloud computing, in particular, presents opportunities, especially for modern-day enterprises that have had challenges scaling their applications and services.
There is a growing paradigm shift to cloud-based solutions due to these opportunities. Gartner forecasts that 90% of global organisations will at least use one type of cloud service by 2022.
However, the transition to cloud computing also presents new security-related concerns for businesses. Chief among these concerns is unauthorised access to their private cloud information. Such concerns are fueled by their lack of comprehensive visibility into cloud environments. As such, great importance is placed on Cloud Security as well as Cloud Security services providers.
Cloud Security is often deemed as a shared responsibility between Cloud Security solutions providers and customers. The responsibilities can be categorised into responsibilities borne by the provider, those on the customers and responsibilities that depend on the cloud service.
The responsibilities on the provider's side are related to securing the cloud infrastructure. That could mean deploying network firewalls to secure the cloud network and utilising authentication and encryption tools to prevent unauthorised access to customer information.
On the other hand, Cloud Security responsibilities borne by customers are related to protecting their cloud assets from unauthorised access or manipulation. Often, this would include managing users and their access privileges to their cloud applications and information.
Furthermore, some cloud responsibilities depend on the cloud service that a customer has chosen to use. The most common and adopted cloud computing services that a customer may choose from are Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Infrastructure-as-a-Service is a hybrid cloud service that allows customers to manage their applications and data on-premise while relying on cloud providers to provide and manage cloud infrastructure (computer hardware, networking, servers, storage devices, etc.). In this case, the customer is responsible for securing the applications and data, while the Cloud Security provider company is responsible for cloud infrastructure security.
Platform-as-a-Service provides a platform for third-party developers to build applications and services and offer them to customers. The Cloud Security services providers manage the entire cloud environment, including computer hardware, data storage devices, as well as the environment to run the developed applications. In terms of security responsibilities, the cloud provider is responsible for securing the cloud infrastructure as well as the data stored in it. In comparison, the developers manage application security.
Software-as-a-Service is a software licensing model in which on-demand software is provided to customers on a subscription basis. Such software is hosted in cloud environments rather than on-premise. SaaS gives cloud providers the responsibility to manage data storage, networking and servers.
Also read: Cloud security benefits: Secure your business (and its growth)
Despite the increasing investment in cloud-based enterprise security solutions over the last few years, organisations still confront significant challenges that prevent them from effectively detecting and containing many of today's Cloud Security threats. Some of these challenges include lack of visibility, lack of expertise, issues with multi-tenancy, shadow IT and compliance confusion.
Lack of Visibility
Cloud computing is characterised by excessive provider control. Cloud providers manage everything from computer hardware, networking services, storage devices and even customers' processes to access their data. This leaves customers with little visibility into cloud environments, constraining their ability to conduct a vulnerability assessment and develop necessary Cloud Security measures.
Lack of Expertise
Cloud Security falls under cybersecurity, a field facing a massive skill shortage. A 2019 Cybersecurity study by the ISC estimates that the world faces a shortage of a whopping 4.07 million cybersecurity professionals. Further, the workforce needs to grow by 145% to meet the demand. The shortage has deprived organisations of the necessary expertise of developing and deploying their own Cloud Security programs.
Issues with Multi-Tenancy
Another characteristic of cloud computing is multi-tenancy, an element that refers to the ability of a single cloud instance or resource to serve many customers. For example, a single storage device can be used to store the data of different customers. Multi-tenancy makes it possible for your hosted applications or data to be collateral damage in an attack targeting other customers using the same cloud resource as you. As such, even if you deploy the best Cloud Security to protect your hosted data, multi-tenancy will still put that data at risk.
Shadow IT is one of the biggest cybersecurity risks. And while organisations may be successful in implementing access restrictions of shadow IT activities to on-premise resources, such restrictions may be difficult to administer in cloud environments because of the lack of visibility. This can be dangerous, especially to organisations that do not have shadow IT policies.
Issues with Regulatory Compliance
Transitioning to cloud services does not guarantee compliance with existing regulatory requirements. In fact, it brings more compliance issues. Often, there is confusion surrounding regulatory compliance in the face of shared security responsibility. Some organisations may assume that the responsibility extends to compliance. On the contrary, the overall responsibility of maintaining compliance often rests with the customers and not cloud providers.
Identity and Access Management (IAM)
IAM is a set of security policies that organisations deploy to manage access to on-premise or cloud-based resources. These policies ensure that authorised users have access to authorised applications or data when they need to. IAM allows administrators to assign a single identity to each user, authenticate them when they log in and authorise them to access specific resources.
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
SIEM is a comprehensive Cloud Security solution that allows organisations to automate their threat monitoring, detection and response processes.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
DLP is a data security solution that protects data in-store or in transit. It consists of a set of services and tools designed to detect and prevent the loss, misuse, or unauthorised manipulation of sensitive data. Organisations use DLP to manage confidentiality, integrity and availability of their private data.
The myriad challenges to organisations' ability to develop and deploy their enterprise security solutions put more focus on outsourcing such responsibility to professionals in Cloud Security. Cloud Security services providers are uniquely positioned to provide the best threat assessment, detection and containment. The following are some of the benefits of professional Cloud Security.
Cloud Security requires a continuous heavy investment in technology and personnel, which many organisations, especially small and mid-size, may struggle with. Passing security responsibility to professional Cloud Security services providers will allow these organisations to save huge costs that they can repurpose for other value-driven projects.
Advanced Cloud Security
Cloud Security services providers work with some of the most experienced and knowledgeable Cloud Security experts. They also invest in and employ the most advanced Cloud Security tools and strategies. All this gives you comprehensive security for your hosted applications and data.
Opportunity to focus on other key aspects of your business
As security attacks become more advanced, intense and costly, organisations are shifting their efforts to counter them, putting other aspects of their business at risk of declining. Relinquishing the responsibility of countering security threats to cloud service providers allows these organisations to refocus on their other main goals and objectives.
Cloud Security is an essential aspect of cloud computing, especially at a time when security threats are growing in volume and sophistication. Organisations wishing to implement their Cloud Security programs face many challenges, such as the lack of visibility into their cloud environment and inadequacies in expertise. Many organisations are turning to Cloud Security service providers for their security needs.