Security has been a big hurdle for companies looking to migrate to the cloud, but it shouldn’t be anymore.

 

Security will always be a concern when it comes to technology, especially with cloud computing.

The thought of important data and key parts of your application managed by an external party can be a scary one.

But if security is still a hurdle that’s stopping you from moving to the cloud, it shouldn’t be.

According to RightScale’s State of the Cloud report, concerns about cloud security have decreased, with 29% of respondents stating it was a major concern in 2016 to only 25% of respondents in the latest survey.

And that number will continue to fall as security improvements continue to be made and more and more people get comfortable with all of the security tools at their disposal.

Here’s why security shouldn’t be a hurdle in moving to the cloud anymore.

 Cloud security blog image

Reasons why cloud security is better than on-premise IT security

The scale and skill of cloud providers’ security experts

We know that your IT security team is top-notch. But as much as you would like to believe that they’re the best in the business, the reality is that massive cloud service providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have many more resources to address infrastructure security.

These companies have hundreds, if not thousands, of security experts whose primary jobs are to stay updated on and constantly monitor all the risks that may threaten your data and applications.

And because these cloud providers have hundreds of thousands of customers on their platforms, a single security breach may lead to lack of customer trust and loss of revenue. So they will certainly stay on top of their game to ensure no breaches occur.

Cloud providers help you meet compliance requirements

Cloud providers manage dozens of compliance programs, including HIPAA, ISO, and many other federal privacy regulations, within their infrastructure. They are frequently audited by independent third-party organizations to ensure that these compliance programs are up to date.

Additionally, cloud providers have data centers in multiple geographic regions across the world and handle regional compliance issues for each location. Thus, if you’re a global business, you’ll have fewer concerns managing compliance of your data in multiple regions and languages, and meeting these regional requirements will be much easier.

This can take a lot of the headache of compliance management off your plate and let you focus on your business.

AWS Compliance Matrix

AWS offers all of these compliance assurance programs. Image courtesy of AWS.

Automated, integrated security monitoring tools

Cloud providers offer many tools and services that help automate the monitoring of your cloud environment’s security profile.

For instance, AWS offers Amazon Inspector, which automatically assesses your application and identifies any potential security risks.

Trusted Advisor analyzes and optimizes your AWS environment and notifies you of any possible security issues.

CloudTrail helps you monitor user activity and API usage to identify any anomalies.

And AWS Shield protects your infrastructure from DDoS attacks.

If you managed the security of your own on-premise infrastructure, you would have to either build these tools yourself or piece together a stack of third-party monitoring tools. Cloud providers make it much easier for your security team to proactively monitor your infrastructure for threats.

Robust identity and access management offerings

While you should have trust in your employees, there may be some who are either unknowing or just plain rogue. These employees’ actions can singlehandedly destroy entire infrastructures, so proper identity and access management is paramount.

Cloud providers offer many easy-to-use and integrated identity and access management tools that help you manage user access roles, deploy multi-factor authentication, create and control encryption keys, and more.

These tools are tightly coupled into their infrastructure and security tools, so you can ensure that managing your users’ privileges and access to critical data is seamless.

 

Your responsibilities for ensuring security in the cloud

 

While cloud providers make IT security much easier, you can’t depend on them to handle every aspect of your application’s security. You need to do your homework to ensure that your cloud provider meets all your security requirements and hold up your end of the deal.

Here are some of your key responsibilities for ensuring security of your data and applications.

Understand the security and compliance requirements for your data

The first thing you should understand is the security and compliance requirements that your data must meet.

Are you a healthcare firm that needs HIPAA compliance? Do you frequently accept credit card payments and need to be PCI compliant? Make sure that your cloud provider has all the necessary certifications you require.

Another thing to ensure is that each cloud service that you’ll use meets your data’s security and compliance requirements. For instance, a cloud provider’s databases might be FedRamp compliant but their messaging module may not be.

Understand the shared responsibility model

Cloud providers are responsible for security of their cloud infrastructure components, and they do an extremely good job of that.

You are ultimately responsible for the security of everything else – how you handle your customer data, who and what platforms have access to this data, data encryption, network configurations, and anything else outside of the actual cloud infrastructure.

A thorough understanding of what you are responsible for will help ensure the security of your data and applications that are hosted in the cloud.

Here’s a link to AWS’ shared responsibility model.

AWS Shared Responsibility Model

AWS Shared Responsibility Model. Image courtesy of AWS.

Testing, testing, testing

Consistent penetration testing is very important to ensure the security of your data and applications.

You should take a holistic approach to testing your application, including:

  1. Penetration testing of your cloud provider’s storage and servers. You will likely have to get permission from your cloud provider to do so.
  2. Thoroughly testing the application itself. Test your security and user groups, API calls, and any other interfaces to your application.
  3. Reviewing all compliance and regulatory requirements.

Here’s a great article of how RightScale tested the security of their own application in the cloud, as well as a step-by-step method of how you can penetration test your application.

 

Conclusion

In the early days of the cloud, security used to be a big issue.

With the improvements in security monitoring and access management tools, compliance programs, and skill of security experts, cloud security is improving and should no longer be a hurdle in a company’s cloud migration decision.

So if you’re thinking about migrating to the cloud but still think security is a big problem, consider the above factors that have made cloud security more robust. Hopefully they’ll alleviate any concerns you may have.