More services are moving to the cloud as businesses seek new ways to store data, collaborate within organizations, and share information with clients and partners. Cloud services offer versatility and high levels of redundancy, but solutions need to be approached with an appropriate level of caution to ensure that a largely decentralised system remains secure.
To achieve this, hosting providers are required to implement solutions that rely on robust cloud computing infrastructure that is secured against data loss and external threats.
Achieving Multiple Levels of Security
Although cloud services are mostly decentralized, they still rely on physical data centers to store information and compute data. Because the data center is one of the most important aspects of cloud computing and infrastructure, it must remain secure at all costs. Data centers should take precautions to only host equipment that is owned and managed by them, or when it is necessary to on-sell data center access, they should ensure that third party cloud computing equipment meets the security policies of the data center.
The software running on any piece of cloud computing equipment should also meet strict security policies. Computers used for cloud services should run proven operating systems such as industry standard Linux servers, which run in most of the world’s largest cloud infrastructures. Operating systems should have adequate protection with strict access policies and regular patch updates.
Software side security should also be implemented in cloud services to allow for encryption and sever side authentication. Authentication can rely on technologies that enforce two-step verification, as well as single session authentication to prevent unauthorised sessions. Encryption will help to protect data that is being transmitted over public networks.
Because cloud services run on networks that are both publicly and privately visible, network security is an essential element to securing cloud content. Everything from provisioning, to access lists, and even maintenance teams need to be maintained with strict care. Provisioning and design should take in to account the primary storage, database, and web servers on a cloud service, and protect this with load balancers and firewalls before they enter the public domain within the network infrastructure.
Storage Redundancy for Data Recovery
Cloud infrastructure can be hosted in multiple data centers, or on multiple pieces of hardware. This will allow service providers to implement robust backup and recovery systems. This can be implemented through hard disk arrays that replicate data on different drives, or by backing up data at different sites. Daily backups are a standard practice for most cloud service providers, and they allow for rollback after unplanned changes or faults, or in the case of disaster recovery.
SLA – Service Level Agreements. Maintaining Customer Relationships
Because cloud services replace business functions traditionally performed in-house, end users need strong indicators of a commitment to reliable service. Service providers can achieve this by offering a competitive SLA, with a guaranteed or best effort uptime. Cloud computing service providers should ensure that they have sufficient infrastructure, resource, and redundancy to assure that they can meet agreements.
Privacy, A User’s Most Important Concern
Maintaining privacy is essential to the reputation of a cloud service provider, and to the sensitive data of an end user. Maintaining privacy needs to be approached through multiple channels. Access to sensitive information including customer records, as well as customer data itself should be strictly controlled. Service providers need CRM software to maintain customer interactions in a controlled environment.
The above aspects of security will also contribute to privacy. Encryption, authentication, and log-in protection can all help to secure the data of an end user, therefore maintaining their privacy. Firewalls can help to prevent unauthorized access to a cloud computing system which can help prevent privacy breaches and data loss caused by malicious sources.
Companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft with their Azure platform have shown that cloud computing and cloud services are a key technology in the future of not just IT, but all businesses. As more companies migrate storage, services, and computing functions to the cloud, the responsibility to address content security will intensify for service providers. By adhering to industry standard practices and implementing strict internal policies, cloud computing service providers will be able to maintain the integrity, and the desirability of cloud services.
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