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Cloud Based Computing

For any business, data security is a top concern. The consequences of a data breach can be severe for a business or organization: not just the immediate financial losses from fraudulent use of such data, but long-term loss of business as consumer trust in the company wavers.

There is a perception that using a cloud-based computing solution for business would somehow be less secure than running your business’ IT infrastructure internally.

However, this isn’t necessarily true. In recent years, security in the cloud has been recognized as being better than many on-premises infrastructures. This is particularly true when you compare cloud services to the internal IT infrastructure of a small or mid-sized organization that can’t afford to make all of the best security investments while managing their IT.

Even larger organizations might lag behind some cloud service providers when it comes to security, as such consideration might have to take a back seat to other investments designed to maintain a competitive edge in their respective markets.

As Gartner notes in their post about the Top 10 Cloud Myths, “to date, there have been very few security breaches in the public cloud – most breaches continue to involve on-premises data center environments.”

How is it that a cloud service provider can give their customers stronger security for mission-critical data than an internal IT infrastructure can?

Here are some of the ways that using the cloud can improve the security of your company’s mission-critical data:

Stronger Focus on IT Infrastructure and Security

One of the reasons why it’s tough for a business to make sure that their IT infrastructure has top-notch security is that it’s not usually the focus of their business. For many businesses, IT is just a way to enhance other aspects of the business, not the core focus.

With a cloud provider, however, IT is the entire focus of the business. In order to remain relevant and competitive, they have to invest heavily into their IT infrastructure. This includes employing best-in-class security features.

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Expenses like a series of firewalls powered by Palo Alto Networks which includes threat prevention and intrusion detection, or setting up servers in hardened Tier IV data centers with 24/7 physical security would be excessive and hard to justify for any but the largest of corporations. However, these investments are a requirement for staying competitive as a secure cloud provider.

Because providing the highest levels of security to their customers is the main focus of a cloud service provider, they’re typically able to justify the kind of large expenditures that other businesses can’t often afford.

Strong Internal Isolation of Data and Apps on the Server

Premium cloud service providers employ multiple layers of security to protect their client’s most sensitive data, including per-app firewalls that restrict access even if a threat gets by the perimeter firewall.

For example, say that a hacker successfully manages to crack an employee’s access code to the system and logs into one of the apps. Without internal firewalls to isolate access to the different parts of the system, the hacker could then access almost anything they wanted to from there.

With per-app firewalls, the hacker can only access the information available from that one point of access, increasing the difficulty of the attack. This helps to reduce the impact of a successful hacking attempt when one does occur.

Restricted Access to Physical Servers

Reputable cloud providers use Tier IV data centers with strong security features to keep thieves from directly accessing the physical hardware that houses your data.

Tier IV data centers use sealed rooms, CCTV monitoring, and 24/7 armed security patrols to keep out hackers that would try to physically access your server and take your company’s data that way.

Even service technicians for the servers are accompanied and every asset they handle is tagged, marked, and tracked from the start of service to the end so that assets don’t go missing.

This level of security would be difficult to justify for a single business’ in-house IT infrastructure, but cloud providers must make this kind of security investment because they’re handling the secure cloud needs of multiple companies.

One Caveat

With all of the above in mind, it would be easy to say that the cloud is a more secure option for housing your company’s mission-critical data than relying on in-house infrastructure.

However, it’s important to remember one thing: not all Cloud Service Providers are created equal.

There are a lot of cloud providers that might not use per-tenant and per-app firewalls in addition to their perimeter firewalls. Or, they might not take advantage of Tier IV data centers, opting instead to use a lower-tier data center that has less security.

This is why it’s important to check out any cloud provider’s security features before signing them on to provide infrastructure for your business. Cloud security is a complicated issue, and one that your CSP should be a master of if you’re going to trust them with your most sensitive business data and applications.

There are many other benefits to the cloud like flexibility, easily adding or reducing resources as needed, reduced CapEx and OpEx and more.  Download our Ebook for more advantages and how your business can reap the benefits.  

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