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Cloud Security: Myths and Realities

Cloud Security

Regardless of your business’s size, industry, or location, it’s likely that you’re using the cloud more often than you think. Do you take advantage of any of the wildly popular free webmail services like Gmail? Have you connected with colleagues on a video conferencing platform like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Cisco Webex lately? Or maybe your sales, marketing, and customer service teams rely on a customer relationship management (CRM) tool like Salesforce to enhance their ability to share information about your customers?

If any of the above is true, you’re relying on a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) application to get your job done. In the not-too-distant past, numerous small and midsized business leaders feared that making use of cloud services or infrastructures could put their organization’s information assets at risk, but that perception is less common today.

Nonetheless, even as cloud utilization continues to climb and business leaders come to a better understanding of how computing works, some popular misconceptions about the nature of cloud security still persist.

We’d like to take a few minutes to clear up three of the biggest ones we tend to run across.

#1: There’s only one “right way” to secure things in the cloud.

Today’s major cloud providers have a bewildering array of offerings for you to choose from. And it’s never been easier for employees to consume these services. Whether they’re interested in provisioning automated developer tools to speed the progress of your DevOps pipeline or logging into a new instance of a website optimization application, they can spin up new resources on the fly or test new software in seconds.

From classic infrastructure offerings like storage and compute to microservices-oriented architecture options like Function-as-a-service (FaaS), the alternatives are nearly limitless. But so, too, are best practices for securing different types of cloud environments. You can’t take a “one size fits all” approach to cloud security.

Instead you should cultivate a thorough understanding of exactly which services your organization is consuming, with the goal of establishing security processes that will work well in your unique IT environment. Visibility is key here: you cannot secure cloud applications that you don’t know your employees are using.

#2: Cloud security is complicated and requires an entirely new way of thinking.

Because cloud architectures can be complex, some business leaders assume that cloud security is an intricate and complicated endeavor. Cloud brings new challenges, but the same foundational truths of information security are just as relevant in the cloud as they were in yesterday’s on-premises environments. Whether you’re attempting to find vulnerabilities in a Google Cloud Function or you’re penetration testing a Windows 2016 server, you need to take the same approach and maintain the same mindset.

Though the tools and infrastructures may differ, IT professionals tasked with securing cloud environments still need to abide by the same principles that have always been relevant: software updates and patches should be applied frequently, configuration settings and system security alerts should be monitored continuously, and regular testing should be performed to identify vulnerabilities.

#3: Cloud security is simple: the cloud provider takes care of it all on your behalf.

In fact, major public cloud providers handle security according to a “shared responsibility” model, with the provider assuming responsibility for the cloud infrastructure, including hardware, software, and networking, depending upon cloud consumption model. The customer is responsible for securing their own data, applications, and operating systems. They’re responsible for their own configuration settings, for using strong encryption, and for establishing access controls.

A common misperception is that data stored in the cloud doesn’t require backup. Although major cloud providers employ multi-layered physical security provisions within their own data centers, they might not secondary backups of your data unless you subscribe to this service. If a ransomware attack corrupts all of your files, you’ll need to restore from a copy that’s stored elsewhere—or suffer the devastating consequences of data loss.

Staying secure in the cloud requires many of the same things that on-premises security demanded of IT teams: forethought, vigilance, and care. Want to know more about how your environment stacks up? Request a threat assessment consultation with a member of our highly experienced team today.

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