Your Quick Guide to Cloud Based Security Solutions
Why cloud-based security?
Back in 2010, Microsoft unwittingly introduced us to a new world of online data breaches when user data was compromised in their Business Productivity Online Suite. Microsoft responded quickly to the breach and fixed the issue within two hours. Only minimal data was stolen but the event elevated awareness surrounding online storage of sensitive information and how a business should handle security policies involving third-party cloud service providers. Since then the breaches have only grown in scale. In 2012 Dropbox had more than 68 million user records compromised. In 2016 LinkedIn reported 167 million user records compromised. More recently large retailers including Target and Home Depot had millions of customer credit card numbers stolen. And even Apple iCloud has been compromised when Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities had their personal photos exposed through a data breach.
Due to the cloud, today’s computing world is increasingly distributed. The beauty of this is we can access our data and services from anywhere in the world and through a wide variety of devices. In the end, the cloud saves us money by reducing overall IT costs and it allows us to be more efficient through flexible access to services and data. But with these advantages come unique security concerns that are best mitigated through cloud-based security solutions.
What is cloud-based security?
Traditional IT security implements a perimeter around your local network protecting your systems and data. This perimeter monitors and restricts access to your network and works well when all your data and services are located on-premise or within your local networks. When leveraging cloud-based services and productivity suites, you need to break out of the local network and transmit data across the internet or cloud. Your data has now left your secure network perimeter requiring a separate cloud security policy to handle the new risks inherent with your data being transmitted across the general internet and stored at a 3rd party cloud service provider. You may be accessing a productivity suite such as Office365 or a CRM such as Salesforce from the 3rd-party provider or you may even be using your own in-house application that happens to run on a 3rd-party cloud platform such as Microsoft’s Azure or Amazon’s AWS. Either way, your data has left your secure network and unique security measures are required. Cloud-based security implements a policy to handle these 3rd party providers and protect your data.
How does cloud-based security work?
Cloud-based security starts with a policy limiting 3rd-party cloud providers to only those who have security policies implemented on their side that match your policy requirements. Well-known providers such as Microsoft and Amazon have very well-defined policies but other new startups may not have the capabilities to meet your requirements. Once the data is in the hands of your cloud provider, you are limited in how you can protect it. It is critical to limit potential vendors to those on your approved list who have a strong security policy in place. However, as the data is in transit to the cloud provider, there are steps that can be taken to control access, limit threats and even further protect your data.
After defining how you are going to vet your cloud providers, a well-rounded cloud security solution may also implement a next-hop or DMZ infrastructure routing all your internet traffic through a security provider. This allows for securing a mobile or distributed workforce so you can confidently move applications to the cloud while also mitigating your security risks.
So if you are moving to Office 365, considering Azure or AWS, or even looking to replace VPNs, you’ll want to consider the cloud-based security solutions available to keep your data safe.