Cloud storage has become the global go to storage medium for everyone today. The rate at which enterprise users and day to day consumers are adopting cloud is off the charts. At this rate cloud storage is already playing a major role in every developing industry from block chain technology to machine learning.
Hence cloud is not just future but it is also the means to attain future technology. However a growing concern among the users and potential adopters is to entrust cloud with confidential and sensitive information. A lot of scrutiny is over cloud data security.
It is naturally a question of integrity as you blindly have to trust your personal information with an arbitrary server hosting company. But there are compelling reasons that will make you fairly outgrow this ideology.
This article is compiled to answer all the suspicions around data security in cloud. By the end of this article you shall also understand why embracing cloud storage is essential in this ever evolving technological landscape.
What are the common factors that cause apprehensions about cloud data security?
1) Data Ownership
The notion of data ownership has been debatable among a lot of data experts and computer scientists. The challenge lies in answering the question, where does the ownership of data lie? Is it with the consumer who originally uploaded the data onto cloud? Or does the data belong to the organization which maintains physical servers to provide cloud storage as a service?
What if one of the clients who subscribed for service goes out of business? Does the data now belong to the storage service provider?
According to one of the major cloud service providers the data that is created and copyrighted before the uploaded onto cloud belongs to user, but the data created on cloud platform when cloud space is used for different computational applications, the ownership might be complicated.
2) Data leakage
A lot of privacy laws and safe harboring require authoritative control over your data. The data access request might be from a genuine source like government or from a dubious hacker. Hence data leakage is always one of the biggest fears in cloud environment.
3) Establishing a secure connection
When it comes to cloud storage a lot of focus is laid over enhanced encryption and exclusive credentials. More importantly the connection through which data is transmitted should also be secure. This secure connection might amount to look like a extreme measure but it certainly is important to be prepared for the worst as, data for any organization is equivalent to an asset.
4) The balance between performance and security
The efficiency of a cloud storage service can be quantified by analyzing the thin balance between the standard of encryption implemented and the user experience. The stronger the encryption, the more time is consumed in decrypting the files. The time taken to decrypt the files can directly impact user experience and performance of the service.
Even slightest imbalance between these two deciding factors can pose a risk to the cloud data. Hence the question of balance to avoid any compromise in security always exists.
5) Fear of data breach
Lately, cloud data breach of various renowned organizations has shown a colossal impact on reliability of cloud. Due to lack of exposure over this concern, a lot of rumors are being spread. The bigger chunks of these rumors are baseless and falsely imply that security advancements in cloud are failing to catch up with the pace of cloud technology.
Most of these data breaches have happened solely because of cloud data security malpractices that compromised the data security and not due to any weak link in chain of security safeguards implemented.
Know what cloud storage providers are doing to keep your data safe:
To all the storage providers who run the cloud service as a business, client data security is of prime importance. Any data leakage or breach would greatly affect the company’s revenue and reputation.
Currently the guidelines followed by companies that hold personal information on cloud are governed by strict laws. These laws direct how this personal information is to be protected, used or destroyed by the cloud service provider. Huge penalties are also in place for the companies that fail to protect the information.
With an eye for defending the weakness in the system and to be prepared for any kind of attack, a large number of cloud security controls are implemented. While there a lot of cloud security safeguards currently in use, they can be categorized as follows:
1) Detective controls
These controls are responsible to detect any threats or attacks on the cloud environment and pass on the next set of commands to preventive or corrective controls in order to analyze and compromise the threat. Network monitoring, system monitoring, intrusive detection are a few examples of detective controls.
2) Corrective controls
These controls are responsible for holding off the damage caused by any imminent threat. The controls come into effect only after a certain incident is reported. For example targeted system backups are restored in order to account for the damage caused by any reported incident.
3) Preventive controls
Preventive controls as the name suggests are the actions taken in order to prevent any kind of incidents caused by threats. Wholly speaking the sole aim of these controls is to authenticate genuine clients with appropriate credentials and bypass any potential access to restrict incidents from occurring.
Deterrent controls fundamentally give responses to any unauthorized source with cautionary responses. These responses can in fact warn the attackers about the severe consequences of breaching into the servers.
4) More safety measures:
Cloud data encryption involves the process of encoding data with various techniques and algorithms which can only decoded if the encryption key is available with the user. Hence you can only access data if authentication is precisely matches the key.
Cloud data encryption is implemented at different levels:
1) Encryption of data while uploading to cloud
All the leading cloud service providers in the market like Google, OneDrive etc simultaneously encrypt data while it is being uploaded to cloud. This end to end encryption is done over custom hardware that runs a custom operating system.
2) Content encryption while the data is in transit from one server to the other
To achieve web privacy protection, data access from cloud is done through an encrypted connection. A HTTPS protocol (set of rules predefining data routing across servers) decides preference of which data encryption the browser supports. These encryption preferences are called cipher suites.
All the cloud services now use Perfect Forward Secrecy, this allows the sever to use an secret key which in turn generates another unique key for every session called session key. The data when being transmitted is usable if the session key between browser and server match. This ensures that no third party application or user can manipulate your cloud data.
All the data transmissions from the source server to the other server are encrypted using a 265-bit transport layer security.
3) Encrypted validation of cloud data recipient
To defend against hackers an improvised RSA encryption is now employed that is doubled to 2048 bit from 1024 bit. Well this basically means that it is now twice difficult for the hackers to access any of your cloud data. Hence with 2048 bit RSA only the designated recipient can receive data after a thorough validation.
Time to start entrusting your sensitive data to cloud
Having all the above mentions safeguards in place, your cloud data is almost impenetrable. While cloud security is constantly being worked upon by security scientists, it also becomes your responsibility to follow recommended security practices.
A few healthy practices can be listed as follows:
- Do not access sensitive cloud data over public networks or using insecure connections.
- Also try keeping a local backup of your most important cloud data to be prepared for the worst.
- Don’t save your passwords on desktop
- Keep changing passwords regularly and make sure they are guess proof
- Make sure you logout of your Google Drive or OneDrive after your job is completed.
What are the advantages of letting third party apps access your cloud data?
What we have achieved in cloud storage technology is still a tip of the iceberg. To see the dawn of new age in this technology, it is essential that we openly embrace it. No matter what kind of insecurities, you will have to be critical and make a decision to trust third party applications.
The future of IOT is based on the idea of integrating cloud service that plays a pivotal role in sharing specific information to achieve a task. Therefore if you remain apprehensive in this aspect you miss out on the future.
With cloud collaboration platform work has become dynamic. This collaborated cloud space creates a lot of duplicate documents while multiple people work on this shared cloud space. It can get quite inconvenient managing these duplicates that eat up space and decrease your productivity. Recently a free duplicate file remover has been launched to tackle this challenge; however without giving access to your cloud, you cannot use programs like these designed to primarily enhance your cloud experience.
Lastly, after briefly discussing all the major security concerns involved in having your data saved over cloud, it is clear now that insecurities about the safety of your data on cloud is only going to leave you high and dry. Rather take required precautionary measures, strategize the security needs you require, understand the terms and detailing of cloud security provided by the service and most importantly follow healthy data protection practices. This will keep your cloud data safe and blissfully enter future.