The Cloud promises reduced costs and increased flexibility, but it also raises security concerns. Leveraging the cloud affords businesses reliability and scalability with reduced costs but many Cloud adversaries will cite security as being the weak link in the Cloud’s silver lining. It is a widespread myth that the cloud should be a security concern when in fact, if you examine the details, the Cloud can prove in many cases to be significantly more secure than most Business networks. This theory becomes significantly more apparent in Small and Medium Businesses (SMB).
False Sense of Security – Many customers feel that just because they have the data close to them that their data is secure leaving them more susceptible to attack and failures. Cloud providers are motivated by Service Level Agreements (SLA) to ensure the availability and security of customer data, which in turn leads to increased security and redundancy.
Enterprise Class Hardware and Software – Many SMBs are on limited budgets and usually cut corners when it comes to things such as network, security, redundancy, and vendor maintenance. Cloud vendors usually deal in Enterprise or Service Provider class to include highly available low-latency switches with the ability to provide access control lists and rapid failover. Cloud Providers employ defense-in-depth strategies using best-in-class highly available firewalls along with intrusion detection, intrusion preventions, encryption in transit, encryption at rest, monitoring, and alerting. While SMBs usually employ a firewall or packet filter, they usually do not go the additional mile to ensure data is fully protected. Cloud Service Providers cannot tolerate failures. Failures resulting in loss of productivity or data force Cloud Providers to issue SLA credits, which directly affect their bottom line. Last but not least is vendor maintenance for hardware and software. This is overlooked by many SMBs that cannot seem to justify the recurring annual cost for support but can quickly lead to inability to download patches and software updates to gain additional features and patch bugs and security vulnerabilities. Cloud Providers cannot afford to be down nor allow a hardware or software bug to cripple their operation so they take extreme care to keep current on hardware and software support.
Carrier Class Facilities – One would be hard pressed to compare the under powered and insufficiently cooled storage closet-turned-server room located in the office to the state-of-the-art compliancy audited Type 3 data centers that host Cloud Providers. The reliability of redundant power grids, multiple fiber paths in and out of the building, battery and generator backup systems, advanced fire suppression, and ample cooling systems will ensure data availability while non-descript seismic-planned buildings, 24/7 staffed security personnel, key card and biometric access control systems, closed circuit video surveillance, and alarm systems ensure the physical integrity of customer data.
The People and the Process – When providing and IT service is your business it makes sense to employ full-time professionals that understand what it takes to implement and maintain security of customer data. Cloud Providers employ highly trained and certified engineers with industry experience to design a secure reliable environment and ensure it stays that way. Many SMBs simply do not have the budget to employ qualified full time support staff so they rely on consultants, which although skilled, are far too expensive to maintain the daily security operations such as patching, monitoring, auditing, and alert response that is often found in the Cloud. Cloud Providers usually possess 24/7 security and network operations staff trained in the processes of how to deal with a security incident or handle an alert leading to a more reliable IT environment and more sleep at night.
The decision to make the jump to the Cloud is not always an easy one. The benefits of cost, performance, reliability, management, scale, and security are often “clouded” (pardon the pun) by misconceptions. There are good reasons to trust your data to the Cloud. In fact, with all of the practical benefits provided by the Cloud, using the Cloud can actually increase company productivity while saving your company time, money and a lot of headaches!