Cloud security software is a growing segment of the IT industry because smaller companies hit by the recession have realized that cloud computing makes good business sense and have taken to the cloud in growing numbers. Why are smaller companies using cloud computing? Anyone in the organization can be given access to the cloud application and the application is kept up to date by the cloud service provider, saving the organization many hours of software updating. The cloud also gives smaller companies access to cutting-edge enterprise-level software at an affordable price, since the resource is shared across all users of the platform.
What Are the Risks of Cloud Computing?
Because most times cloud users are on shared cloud server hosting, similar to shared web hosting in its security concerns, cloud users need to work with a cloud service that they can trust to protect their private data. One of the most important aspects of security is how passwords are assigned, how they’re protected, and how they’re changed. Another consideration is the local jurisdiction for where the data is held and the laws and protections for that jurisdiction.
A third security consideration is which third parties the cloud hosting company is dealing with and whether those third parties have access to the data stored there by cloud users. A fourth is the use of encryption and security certification for connections between the data, the front-end application on the cloud server, and each user.
There are different approaches to cloud security including a growing number of cloud security software solutions for various purposes. Cyber-Ark is one such solution that provides a Privileged Identity Management Suite for recording and auditing access. Another is CloudPassage’s Halo Firewall which protects cloud servers from server attacks, and Halo Server Vulnerability Management which allows cloud users to assess their security and exposure. These are just a few of the many cloud security solutions that have come online to address this growing need.
The need for security is directly proportional to the type of data that is being stored in the cloud. If the data is public information then there is no need for compliance with any particular standard. However, if the data in question is credit card information or other information that is private then there are very strong security compliance needs.
One thing important to note is that cloud security is a quickly growing concern now that enough companies and organizations are using the cloud to ensure juicy pickings for a savvy hacker. Any company that decides to use cloud computing should schedule regular monitoring and compliance checks to ensure that security has not been breached.
How to Use Cloud Computing Safely
The best way to ensure safety in the cloud is to keep up with the latest standards and information. The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a non-profit initiative to provide a framework for education, research, and a certification process to help cloud service providers develop secure identity and access management and practices. The CSA also runs cloud audit, which is a volunteer effort to give cloud service providers and application developers a common interface and namespace, so that auditing of the infrastructure platforms and applications can be easily accomplished.
Cloud service providers who work with the CSA and participate in CloudAudit are among the top companies in cloud service providers and applications, including Akamai, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, Google, VMWare, Stratus, and others. The CloudAudit website at http://cloudaudit.org also has a forum where anyone can ask questions on cloud security and interoperability.
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