Should I Trust A Cloud-Based Server?

by May 13, 2019Blog, Managed IT

The world seems to be changing at a faster pace than ever before and how we share information is changing with it. We’re no longer storing information on floppy disks or even thumb drives anymore, but rather the cloud. Cloud managed services are invaluable when it comes to storing and sharing information, but is it safe?

The answer is yes, it’s reasonably safe.

Of course no method of storage is completely full-proof, but network security has come a long way in the past 10 years to make sure that all types of data will be secure on cloud managed services. Companies, such as an information technology consulting company or a managed security service provider, have been founded as an entirely new industry was created to meet the security needs of entities that needed to keep information safe, yet accessible. The sole goal of companies such as this is to keep your information, whether it is your child’s school picture or your investment portfolio, safe from cybercriminals. One of the many ways that this is accomplished is through encryption.

Keeping Your Data Safe

The very basic definition of encryption is that it takes readable data and converts it into an encoded format that can only be decoded with an encryption key. Encryption can be used by any entity to protect sensitive documents from hackers. When data is encrypted, it is transformed from plain text to ciphertext using a set of unique algorithms that form an encryption key. Without the key it doesn’t matter if the data is viewed or not because it isn’t in a format that anyone or anything can understand. Like a locked diary, one would need the key to read the information. Once the encryption key is applied again the ciphertext is transformed to plaintext and once again can be accessed as normal. In the case of smartphones, for example, each time these small computers communicate a new set of algorithms is created to protect the information being transmitted.

Interestingly enough, encryption actually came from WWII when the Allies had to decrypt coded messages sent between German U-boats. Thanks to that, the first digital computer was created and the marked beginning of computers as we know them. Protecting those computers and the information that lies therein, however, is much more difficult. Because different companies have different security needs, there are a variety of ways this can be done.

First, there’s server-side encryption. This is standard with cloud storage services and they don’t charge extra for it. When your data is sent to the cloud, it is encrypted before being stored. This provides protection against hackers, but for an added layer of security, clients can provide their own encryption key. Alternatively, you can generate a unique key using a key management service for that same added layer.

Then, there’s also client-side encryption. 

Client-side encryption entails a lot more than server-side encryption because you are responsible in-house for encryption the dada using encryption software. Before the data is ever sent to the cloud, it is encoded with encryption keys generated by the company and is sent to the cloud encrypted so that the service never sees the decoded data. In addition to receiving encoded data, the cloud storage will still apply server-side encryption to help protect your files. 

Though client-side encryption is by far the most secure way to store your data on the cloud, it comes with its own risks. It is essential to securely manage your encryption key because with client-side encryption, your cloud server cannot assist in decoding your data in the event that the encryption key used in-house is lost.

Cybercrime and Evolving Technology

As the information technology industry continues to evolve every day, so does the threat of cybercrime. Fortunately that threat is being met with new software and techniques to help prevent the theft of sensitive files. To protect clients, some cloud storage services monitor traffic in order to spot suspicious login attempts. Most, if not all of us, have received courtesy emails when logging into an entity for the first time on a new device, so this isn’t an unfamiliar concept. 

Back in 2014 many internet users became very hesitant about using cloud storage after several celebrities had intimate images and videos leaded from Apple’s iCloud. It wasn’t a breach of security with cloud storage, but rather an exploited weakness in the password system. Nonetheless, iCloud took the blame and prompted changes in cloud storage systems. Implementing more stringent CIAM practices also plays a big part in preventing instances such as the 2014 celebrity fiasco. CIAM stands for customer identity and access management and it’s something that most entities on the web have become more aware of in recent years. Though the registration and login experience may not have changed much for customers, good CIAM solutions include multi-factor authentication and single sign on (SSO) security across all applications.

In addition to methods to protect initial login information, companies dedicated to protecting their cloud storage service are shifting to a new way of doing things. Software as a Service (SaaS) is replacing hardware solutions to ensure security protection. Human monitoring is being replaced by SDN (software defined networking) that can monitor the network in real time to better protect customers against cyber threats.

Implementing better CIAM solutions, along with using a state of the art SaaS model can make cloud storage services very safe for customers to store their data.

Quite a few things go into keeping cloud managed services running safely and smoothly. Much like any other machine, there are many intricate cogs that keep it going from a network administrator to the service monitor. It is essential that all parts of network security be constantly evolving and because it is, cybercriminals have a much tougher time with hacking personal information and sensitive business documents. Cloud service providers are considerably safer than they’ve ever been before thanks to a combination of encryption, CIAM solutions, and various other security protection measures designed to combat crime.