Cloud Hosting Security

By | December 26, 2013

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With the Cloud now being seen as the defacto standard in enterprise computing, many are beginning to question the security of the environments provided and what steps have been taken to protect now just their servers, but also the data that they are hosting. Here we will look at what are some of the perceived threats to Cloud users and how the risk of these threats can be reduced.

User access levels

It is the responsibility of Cloud vendors to make sure that staff members are only assigned the access level to the environment that is necessary for them to perform their jobs, therefore preventing them from having access to information that could be classified and isn’t necessary for them to fulfill their roles.  This would mean providing support staff with access to the hardware infrastructure only, rather than with full administrator access that could offer them a way into Cloud VMs.  On occasions there have been attempts by staff members who have been provided with a level of access that goes well beyond their authority to access and steal data for personal gain, whether this is for the purpose of whistle blowing or selling private strategic documents to rivals.  In other situations where support employees have been assigned access levels well beyond what they require, inexperienced workers have made mistakes whilst performing specific tasks that have led to huge data loss and downtime.  In short, as a Cloud hosting provider you should ensure that employees are provided with the correct access because their actions, malicious or not, could end up damaging your business and brand as well as customer confidence.

DOS attacks

These still represent a substantial risk to Cloud computing users.  As Cloud computing is developed around the concept of scalable resources, rather than causing downtime through a direct flood of traffic, here the risk lies in your server being flooded with so much traffic that it is constantly acquiring new resources to deal with the load until it gets to a point where you have to take the server down yourself because the additional resources being allocated will be costing you a lot.  To deflect such attacks, Cloud vendors should be investing heavily in their network infrastructures so that the threat is removed before it reaches individual servers.

Redundancy and single points of failure

The Cloud is a good example of a redundant hosting environment because if any element of the hardware infrastructure fails, there will be backups in place that will be able to pick up any slack so that no requests are dropped and no VMs incur downtime.  In a standard Cloud environment, there will be multiple nodes available for the hosting of VMs and data will be accessed across a secure storage network; this configurations allows VMs to be transported between nodes where issues are present, with data still being accessible from the same location meaning that the risk of downtime is minimal.

Data loss

The aforementioned storage networks used for the hosting of data are an additional redundancy measure in their own right because these host arrays of hard drives that are coupled in RAID configurations both to improve performance and to minimise the risk of data loss in the event that a data becomes corrupted or a drive fails.  With many customer organisations relying on Cloud computing services for the processing of their big data collections, which in some cases can be a company’s biggest asset, strict measures needed to be taken to reduce the chances of data loss occurring because otherwise there is the opportunity for the entire value of a company to be wiped out in one foul swoop.

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