A Look at Cloud Computing and IT Security

Cloud computing presents a very useful tool both for workers and for personal use, however it presents several problems…

Every day millions of pieces of personal data are inserted into the virtual environment, data ranging from IDs, bank accounts, social security data, and more. All with the purpose of having a backup to possible situations that may arise in the physical environment, however, in the virtual world there are also multiple threats to this sensitive information, for which we always seek the best way to protect them against fraud, theft or hijacking of information. One of the most widely used tools for protecting this data is cloud storage. Throughout this article we will see what cloud storage and computing is, how it works, its risks and how we can make it more secure for both personal and business data.

What is cloud computing all about?

It consists of a computing model in which data is stored on the Internet through a provider that manages and handles cloud storage as a service. This provides the opportunity to access these files at any time and in any place, in addition to providing a durable and reliable service.

Other authors advocate cloud computing as a model for enabling access to a range of computing tools (networks, storage, applications, servers, etc.) in a convenient, on-demand manner, which can be effectively released with minimal administrative effort. Viewed in this way, cloud computing is a set of services that are carried out by an administrator who manages data stored in an online location that only he knows. Cloud computing consists of four groups, the hardware (one visualization and multiprocessor chips), the internet technology, established by web 2.0, web services and SOA (service-oriented architecture); also the administration systems where we can achieve independent computing and database automation.

The way cloud storage works is through the purchase of the service from an external provider who owns and operates the data storage capacity and distributes it over the internet on a pay-per-use basis. These providers manage the capacity, security and durability so that all users can access their data.

Cloud computing and its characteristics.

  • On-demand services: Customers of cloud services have the option to self-manage the capacities that the service offers them, either increasing the memory for disk storage or processing. All this according to the needs that may arise in the course of the service use, this can be done without having the need to interact with the provider.
  • Payment by capacity: One of the main characteristics of cloud services is its billing model based on resources used, meaning that customers pay for the capacities or tools they use.
  • Anytime access: This quality allows users to access your services and information stored anywhere in the world, at any time, as long as they have an Internet connection.
  • Quick provisioning: service providers can quickly and sometimes automatically provision the resources and services that the customer requires, at any time. So that customers can self-manage the services available on their own.

How does security in the cloud work?

It involves all protocols and technologies, as well as good human practices that protect cloud computing environments, the applications running on them and the information stored on them. Currently the cloud is widely used by organizations to safeguard the security of their corporate data, and the risks that affect the data in the cloud, not only affect organizations, but also individual users.

There are several risks that can affect security in the cloud, one of these is that there is no perimeter, cloud environments are connected, which results in insecure application interfaces and data theft and account hijacking can be a latent problem, so information security professionals must focus their attention on protecting this sensitive data.

Another potential risk may be relying on a third party to store the data. Because this is carried out by an administrator, any situation that may arise such as service interruption, telephone line cut or power failure, may mean the condition of the administrator’s data center where the information is stored.

Likewise, there are risks in the security of the cloud that can occur in the business environment, some of these may be data protection, as administrators of systems in the cloud, are aware of the risks that can occur in data protection, this can be in both customers and service providers.

In the same way, other latent risks for organizations have to do with the elimination of data, since many times corporate clients ask administrators to eliminate databases or information systems permanently. However, there is the possibility that some backup or escaped information remains, this information is sensitive and since it cannot be completely eliminated on occasions, this represents a risk for the organization due to the theft or hijacking of this information.

The kidnapping of accounts or services is a known fraud practice that is presented as phishing or with the exploitation of some vulnerability resulting from a security flaw, this allows criminals to obtain sensitive data.

How can we be safe when using cloud services?

You can never be completely safe as there is always a vulnerability or margin of error in these services. However, there are some considerations to be taken into account to increase the security of your data, both personal and organizational, some recommendations could be: be careful when choosing a cloud service provider, knowing the infrastructure that guides the services to be offered is an option to know what advantages and disadvantages these cloud service providers have.

Patch updating must be controlled to adequately manage the difficulties that may arise from handling different providers and their respective infrastructure. In the same way, information to be stored in the cloud can be encrypted partially, i.e., only the sensitive data to be stored is encrypted, or completely, encrypting all communication with the cloud.

Encryption helps to ensure that only the person who has a special key can decrypt the data and access the original information, thus protecting the information from different attacks involving the theft or hijacking of sensitive information. Likewise, the use of strong passwords, using letters, numbers and special characters, can help prevent unauthorized access to your account in the cloud, and therefore to your sensitive information.

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