Cloud services have become an integral part of several organizations, with technology providers adhering to privacy and security norms for ensuring the confidentiality of user data. Although efforts are being taken to develop cloud security standards, CSPs are implementing a blend of privacy and security controls. This has created confusion among users in terms of the security measures that they expect from their providers.

The adoption of the cloud is estimated to see a continued upward spiral in the foreseeable future. However, organizations are still wary of cloud computing as an accurate delivery environment for their applications. The most dominant concern among them is security. The question that crawls upon the minds of businesses is if their data is secure in the cloud and the ways they can employ on-demand services while maintaining industry and regulatory compliance.

Lack of Cloud Security Standards and Its Consequences

The organizations are right about their concerns in ramming into the cloud without any protection in place. This porous nature of the cloud becomes an attractive target for cyberattacks. The virtual nature of the cloud further makes securing on-demand environments a complicated process. There is no proper definition as such for effective cloud security.

The lack of effective cloud security standards has made enterprises and CSPs to stumble while depending on a ceaseless list of auditing specifications, regulatory requirements, industry mandates, and data center standards to offer guidance on protecting their cloud environments. This has made cloud security more complicated than it seems to be and this disjointed approach does not qualify for ‘good security’.

There is a dire need for enterprises and providers to concentrate on core aspects of cloud security, such as identity & access management, virtualization, security, data privacy, and content security. The industry must also keep track of the developments in cloud security brought by the NIST as the base to protect the possible emergence of critical business workloads in the cloud.

A Quick Look at The Best Practices of Cloud Security

There are a number of best practices of cloud security that organizations can adhere to amidst expanding workloads in their respective cloud environments. Although these best practices have no foundation as such, it has been observed that following them can safeguard data in cloud environments. CSPs use the shared responsibility model to maintain security and accept the responsibility for some security aspects. Other aspects are shared between the organization and the CSP or just solely remain the organization’s responsibility. Some of the key best practices for cloud security are explained below.

Performing Due Diligence

It is imperative for the cloud users to understand their applications and networks completely. This is for determining the way of providing functionality, security and resilience to the cloud-deployed systems. Due diligence should be performed across the systems’ and applications’ lifecycle that are being deployed in the cloud. This due diligence involves planning, operations, development, deployment and decommissioning.

Access Management

Three capabilities are a must-have in access management. These capabilities include:

  • The ability to identify & authenticate users
  • The ability to assign access rights to users
  • The ability to develop and enact access control policies for all resources

Data Protection

There are three separate challenges involved in data protection, which go beyond access control. These are

  • Data protection against unauthorized access
  • To ensure ceaseless access to crucial data in the case of failures and errors
  • Prevention of the accidental data disclosure, which was presumably deleted

Monitoring and Safeguarding

The responsibilities of CSPs and consumers for monitoring the cloud-deployed systems and applications are divided. The CSPs are responsible for monitoring the services and infrastructure offered to consumers, but not for monitoring applications and systems created by consumers using provided services. Consumers need to design & implement additional monitoring carefully, ensuring that it is completely integrated with cloud automation and is capable of being scaled up or down devoid of manual intervention.

Looking At The Prospects

The developments made by the regulatory bodies as well as organizations point the CSPs and cloud users in the right direction. They lay the groundwork for a stable and secure cloud environment. The incidents in cloud security observed in the past couple of years show that mishaps could have been avoided if right security tools were used by consumers. For example, using properly configured access control, multi-factor authentication provided by CSPs, and precise encryption of data. It is believed that, for SMEs, approaching well-established CSPs will help reduce the risks associated with moving data and applications to the cloud.

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