Cloud computing, cloud storage, or simply ‘the cloud’ is much more than just a new emerging technology, much less a fad. Cloud storage is the future of computing as we know it, and thousands of organizations are already reaping the full extent of the benefits of cloud technology. What is cloud computing? Cloud computing is in essence the utilization of servers that are connected to the internet, which in turn host software and virtual systems that are at the end controlled by APIs or directly via the web. The cloud offers several benefits to the entire connected world, because the technology allows the off-site transmission, sharing, and offloading of data. Today’s cloud systems are extremely sophisticated, in that they can accommodate an almost infinite amount of devices that constantly talk to cloud servers, and thousands of gigabytes of data are actively being communicated on the cloud every minute around the world.
The cloud service model did not appear until the 2000s, even though the internet technically existed since the 70s -officially introduced to the public in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee as the World Wide Web (W3C/World Wide Web Consortium). Most of us do not know that the services we access daily and cannot do without such as Gmail, Google Email, and all the other Google apps as well as any messaging, video conferencing, or business apps all rely on cloud infrastructure. What’s more, the technical name for these services is SaaS or Software-as-a-Service. There is also the term IaaS or Infrastructure-as-a-Service that essentially describes cloud app model infrastructure. These services first appeared right around when the launch of the first smartphones took place in 2006/7.
Into the later 2000s, the cloud would split into several infrastructures; the public cloud, the private cloud, and much later the new hybrid cloud trend came online. What started all of this? Well, Amazon Web Services, and a slew of others, appeared on the market and offered on-demand storage and computing which would bring us to today’s cloud computing technology. Of course, as internet speeds and the development of emerging technologies came up so did the demand for more sophisticated and instantaneous online services. A service called ServerMania was also around at the time, which offered similar solutions at a much smaller scale. According to Cisco, an American multinational technology conglomerate: “Cloud computing offers companies convenient models to access infrastructure, platform, and software offerings on a pay-as-you-go basis. With cloud computing, companies are freeing up capital, streamlining IT maintenance, modernizing and scaling business approaches, building security and flexibility into services and solutions, helping customers in new ways, and growing their business in ever-changing market conditions”.
What is Cybersecurity?
Without cybersecurity, there is no cloud to be spoken of. This is just like the fact that a bank could not exist or function without its proprietary security. According to cybersecurity solutions (antivirus) legend Norton, “Cyber security is the state or process of protecting and recovering networks, devices and programs from any type of cyberattack.
Cyberattacks are an evolving danger to organizations, employees, and consumers. They may be designed to access or destroy sensitive data or extort money. They can, in effect, destroy businesses and damage your financial and personal lives — especially if you’re the victim of identity theft. What’s the best defense? A strong cyber security system has multiple layers of protection spread across computers, devices, networks, and programs. But a strong cyber security system doesn’t rely solely on cyber defense technology; it also relies on people making smart cyber defense choices”.
What Does Cybersecurity Have to do With Cloud Technology?
The digital transformation, or revolution, is well underway. This means that remote work and the use of cloud technology, coupled with emerging technologies like machine learning (ML), AI (Artificial Intelligence), and 5G are all combined in a new techno-soup setup to change the way we live. All of this also means that there are more and more ‘security gaps’ or vulnerabilities, as well as a growing attack surface for cybercriminals. Not only that, but the margins for human error are also growing as more and more dynamism, innovation, and novelty is added to the tech industry. Cybersecurity is essential for the survival of any digital technology, especially those that are connected to the internet (what isn’t connected today, anyways?). Statistics show that cybersecurity solutions for infrastructures-as-a-service as well as the public cloud are growing by more than 50% each quarter since 2019. The cybersecurity industry is also growing at a steady rate of around 15% each year, now into the dozens of billions. At the moment, around 5 companies hold the lion’s share of the market share in cybersecurity which are; Fortinet, Check Point, Symantec, Cisco, and Palo Alto Networks -although the market is diversifying at a great pace and new players are constantly appearing in the field. As for the cloud, the public cloud (e.g. SaaS services like Google mail or Amazon Web Services) has been the subject of high-profile attacks (hacks) for the past few years. For this reason, cybersecurity solution companies and national agencies are having to tune their services towards a more secure hybrid or private cloud solution to avoid these issues in the future.
Cybersecurity And The Cloud: An Inseparable Pairing
Organizations are increasingly dependent on cloud technology for data transmission, storage, and collaborative (sharing) work. They are also increasingly adopting cloud technologies to migrate most of their data online for better efficiency, access, and overall savings. However, publicly hosted sensitive data is always at risk due to several different threat vectors and human error. Statistics show that the highest-concern cybersecurity risks are data loss, privacy, accidental leakage, and finally compliance problems, respectively. Below is a breakdown of the different infrastructures’ approach to security;
- SaaS services use an encrypted approach to data
- PaaS and IaaS depend more on the customer’s actions in terms of responsibility
In general, cloud vendors (cloud solution providers) provide sufficient integrated security out-of-the-box. However, this is not always the case, as several data leaks and breaches have shown in the recent past. Without a hygienic and prompt cybersecurity strategy, the following issues can befall any organization dependant on cloud computing technology;
- Failing to address security standards and compliance
- Failing to address security risks in a punctual manner
- Failure of access controls, privileges, and around shared responsibility models
- Failure to adhere to industry best practices
Speaking of industry best practices in cybersecurity, what habits should every organization induct into its cybersecurity strategy? Here are some key points;
- Strict user access control and privilege monitoring
- Utilization of SSH (Secure Socket Shell) keys on server connections
- Choosing a cloud vendor that offers encryption
- Meeting compliance standards such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS
- Routing auditing with cloud penetration testing
- Applying Defense-in-Depth strategy
- Implementation of MFA or Multi-Factor Authentication at all endpoints
- Implementing cybersecurity awareness education and training in the organization
As cybercrime develops in sophistication, and the number of connected devices skyrocket, we will need much stricter controls than ever before to not allow any slip-ups. This also means looking at Zero-Trust models in the future, as well as utilizing quantum technology to boost encryption to new levels. The need for cybersecurity awareness in every organization is now on almost everyone’s agenda, and protecting the cloud environment will be priority number one looking ahead into the future.
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