Cloud Insight

Security Threats of the Public Cloud: Real or Perceived?

8 Aug

Over the years, we as technology professionals and business leaders have determined that with new technology comes new threats, or at least the perception of new threats. One of these new technologies is the public cloud infrastructure. Many pundits and potential users believe there are great benefits to the public cloud, but also significant security risks. Others believe public clouds are just as secure as any other option so long as you do things the right way. Are the security risks of the public cloud real, or simply over-stated?

Before answering the question we must first understand that security is a process. It is something that continually evolves and changes. There is not any one thing that can either fully protect you or make you overly vulnerable. Most recently we have been thrust into a more digital age with the Internet, and organizations are faced with certain challenges such as whether to grant people access to the Internet. Does productivity slow? Are we going to get viruses? What will happen to our data? These are all questions organizations must ask these days and they all relate to security.

These same questions are now asked about public cloud computing and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). IaaS allows IT professionals and consumers to leverage a public or partially-private datacenter online to create a virtual server environment. This allows for a wide range of tasks to be completed, such as database processing or e-commerce applications. Questions about what should be put in the cloud continue to arise. However, by looking at past technological problems, concerns, and solutions we can hopefully answer these inquiries.

Decentralizing data centers in the 80’s, the explosion of Internet usage in the 90’s and 2000’s, and the ever-evolving landscape of mobile access have brought upon certain challenges that we’ve taken on with concise strategies. For example, encryption or limiting access to certain web pages on worker’s PCs. Without these strategies there would be a proverbial free-for-all when it comes to data access. In short, we have figured out ways to mitigate the security risks of new technology, and we’ll do it again with cloud workloads.

The popularity of cloud computing is growing quickly and IT departments that were once wary of the cloud are now turning to it in droves. They are doing so because they’ve figured out the same thing we have, that security is not a one size fits all type of thing. The only way to mitigate security risks is to work with a trusted cloud provider and to have a solid security plan and strategy. Cloud based workloads are not the main issue at hand, it’s the fact that many organizations do not come up with a cohesive plan or approach.

So, to answer the question we started with, we must say that the risks are not as real as they seem to be and aren’t as perceived or over-stated either. What we’re really saying is that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Sure, there are risks out there, as there is with anything. However, it’s about what you do to plan for these risks or to make sure you lessen your exposure to them that really makes the difference. Having a strategy, strong plan, and a dependable cloud provider will ensure that your security risks are mitigated and you stay compliant in the process.