Blog/Expert Analysis/

Everything you need to know about cloud computing security

Oct 19, 2020

As today’s organizations heavily rely on cloud-based tools, security is on everyone’s lips, be it a small enterprise or a large international company with offices all around the world. In this article, we’ll explore cloud computing security and the ways to protect your IT infrastructure.

What is cloud computing?

The terms ‘cloud computing’ and ‘cloud storage’ are often used interchangeably, but they are two different concepts. Cloud storage allows you to store your files on a remote server and share them with other users. Dropbox, iCloud, and Google Drive are some of the most well-known cloud storage platforms.

Cloud computing is a much broader term, as it encompasses many different tools, services, and applications that run in the cloud environment instead of your computer. Rather than owning and maintaining large IT infrastructures, companies rent the resources they need. Slack, Gmail, Salesforce, HubSpot, Google apps, online games, hosting services — all of those are examples of cloud computing.

Cybersecurity in cloud computing

What is cloud computing security? This term refers to processes and techniques protecting the cloud environment. It involves cloud providers with thousands of remote servers, your employees, their devices, and the data you want to secure.

Reports indicate that approximately 96% of enterprises use cloud services, which makes them an appealing target for cyber criminals. But while cloud computing has its risks, with the right tools and knowledge, you can mitigate all the threats.

The biggest cloud computing security risks

Data breach

With billions of records exposed every year, a data breach is any company’s worst nightmare, as it leads to lawsuits and destroys reputation. When you have hundreds or thousands of employees, you can’t guarantee they are taking all the necessary security measures. Cybersecurity experts warn that outdated software and weak passwords are often responsible for opening doors to hackers.

Loss of data

Employees should access only the data necessary to perform their daily tasks. If somebody from your company’s sales department can go through the files of the marketing team, it’s worth restricting this freedom. Otherwise, it can lead to accidental deletion of valuable intellectual property or even a data leak.

Compliance with GDPR

If an organization collects its customers’ data, it has to make sure this is done in compliance with cybersecurity laws. Companies that fail to comply with GDPR or other international privacy agreements face penalties.

Insider threat

A disloyal employee may leave your company for a competitor and also take advantage of your company’s data. Insider threat is worse than an attack coming from the outside, because the person is already inside the network.

Revenge on the employer is also common. In 2019, Steffan Needham from the UK was sentenced to prison after he stole credentials from his former colleague and started deleting the company’s servers. The destroyed information caused revenue losses of £500,000, and the data was never retrieved.

DDoS attacks

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack occurs when hackers clog the network with traffic, making the services run slow or even crashing the whole system. DDoS attacks can destroy your reputation and lead to huge financial losses.

One of the most notorious DDoS attacks, conducted against the DNS provider Dyn in 2016, brought down some major websites, including Amazon, Netflix, Airbnb, Spotify, BBC, Twitter, PayPal, and Reddit.

Cloud computing security tips

Security in cloud computing is a shared responsibility between the cloud provider and the company. If one party fails to do its job, the entire system may be compromised. Cloud computing security is much more complex than on-premise security, where you just need to surround your servers and end-point devices with firewalls, and where all the control is in your hands.

Here’s what you can do to enhance your security:

Back up your data

While it’s tempting to trust your cloud computing provider, always make sure your data is properly backed up. You might even use your own server to be in control of everything you possess. When your sensitive data is in the hands of third-party companies, you have no choice but to trust them. Experience has shown that this is not always the best strategy.

Test your cloud system

It’s important to ensure that your cloud computing environment runs like clockwork. Instead of waiting for incidents to happen, test your cloud security system in advance and check for any vulnerabilities. Some companies even hire white-hat hackers, who find security holes for them.

Keep the logs

If an employee with extensive access rights to your cloud is injected with malware, this can compromise the whole cloud. Make sure that everyone in the company understands the cybersecurity risks and knows how to handle them. Security experts also advise you to keep logs on your employees in case something happens.

Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is an extra step in the login process. After users type their credentials, they also have to authenticate themselves by typing a PIN, using an authentication app, or a fingerprint. While two-factor authentication takes more time, it’s a cornerstone of cybersecurity.

Organizations always fight employees who use weak passwords. Introducing proper authentication is one small step in this never-ending battle.

Encrypt your data

It’s important to encrypt your data both in the cloud and in transit. To this end, you can use NordLocker, as it secures your data with top-notch encryption and allows you to easily share it with your colleagues. It has a strict zero-knowledge policy — what you keep in your locker is solely your business. You can store your encrypted data on your hard disk or upload it to the NordLocker cloud.

Get 3GB of cloud storage for free and secure your files!

John Sears

John Sears

Verified author

John believes that the best things in life are simple. He uses the same approach when he’s writing about online security. John says that his #1 pet peeve is phishing scams. Ironically, his favorite non-work related activity is fishing.