It's very common for organizations to avoid cloud computing out of legitimate concern for their data’s safety. "What if someone gains access to my environment?" "Since it's not in my control, what if something goes wrong?” "Wouldn't my data be more susceptible to cyberattack?"
Indeed, there are many pervasive misconceptions about the cloud, all fueling this central question: "Is the cloud secure?" This is a very important question to ask, and it’s one we get quite often since we’ve been helping organizations migrate to the cloud for years.
So, is it?
The answer is that, in most cases, the cloud is much more secure than your on-premises environment. Below we’ll explore some common misconceptions about cloud security, along with a more detailed look at the robust safeguards that often come with your cloud solution.
Understanding the cloud and cybersecurity
- Definition of “the cloud.” It’s important to know that “the cloud” is not the strange mythical land that some make it out to be – it’s just someone else’s servers running in a datacenter. And when you compare datacenters to your average office server room, there tends to be a stark difference in security protocol.
- Definition of “security.” It’s equally as important to understand that security cannot be evaluated in absolutes. Every IT infrastructure has its respective vulnerabilities, and any solution that claims 100% impenetrability is illegitimate. What you really want is an environment with so many safeguards in place that the risk in storing your sensitive data there is “absolutely” minimal.
- Media Hype. Given what we hear on the news about massive corporate data breaches, it’s easy to think that datacenters are special targets for cyberattacks. But the truth is, whether an environment is big or small, cloud-based or on-site, it will be at risk. What’s more, local malware attacks on SMBs are actually far more frequent than datacenter attacks. In order to accurately assess a network’s security, we need to evaluate its specific security measures, rather than basing our judgement on generalizations.
What makes the cloud more secure
Where is your server right now? Next to the printer? In the kitchen? How difficult is it to get into your office? We’ve found that many organizations do not store their servers in a particularly secure location. In fact, we once had a client whose server (which had all of their member data and account information on it) was physically stolen from their workplace.
In order to touch our servers in Ashburn, VA, thieves would have to penetrate:
- A 10 foot tall perimeter fence with no public access
- 6 doors with digital pan-tilt-zoom cameras and mantraps
- 24x7 manned security with centralized electronic access control systems
- Multifactor identification and multi-level security zones
In other words, if you’re not supposed to be there, you probably aren’t gettin’ through. Moreover, datacenter operatives have enterprise-level security knowledge that most likely surpasses that of your individual engineers. Truly, a well-architected datacenter is one of the most physically secure places in the world.
Beyond physical security, datacenters generally offer redundancies (data backup and failovers for power, internet, etc.) that simply don’t exist in even some of the best on-site networks.
Once you move to the actual computing environment, too, the right cloud provider will offer:
- Strict password policies and/or two-factor authentication
- Encryption (at rest and in transit)
- Patching, anti-virus, anti-spam, and 24/7 monitoring
- Intrusion detection
- Restricted permissions
- So on and so on
As said earlier, these things must be evaluated individually. You would be mistaken to assume that your money is necessarily safer in a shoebox than at a bank; the same can be said of your data in an on-premises environment versus a datacenter.
In order to accurately assess how safe your data is in the cloud, ask your provider what safeguards are in place to protect your data from any harm. From there, you should be able to enjoy the benefits of cloud computing comfortably and confidently.