Security Challenges and Benefits of Cloud Computing
Is security in the cloud a challenge or a benefit? The accurate answer is both; there can be both disadvantages and advantages. Security within cloud computing is something that seems to be discussed constantly with some believing data can be more secure if hosted within a cloud environment and others having their doubts. Let’s take a look at some security factors and look at both the negative and positive arguments.
When storing data in the cloud it is hosted across multiple servers and not knowing the exact location of their data is a concern to many. It is something that is confusing to some and therefore worries them. This concern is, though, partly borne out of a lack of understanding. It is not as though data is floating around the clouds with anyone able to lay their hands on it. Where hosted on one, single dedicated server organizations know where their data is. They can, therefore, put certain protections in place, something which they aren’t able to do when it is stored in a virtualized environment as it is in the cloud.
Data stored in the cloud is typically stored in a shared environment. Within any shared hosting the risk of others accessing your data is greater than when stored on a dedicated server. Where full encryption is not in place this is a particular concern. There is also a security risk when accessing services over the internet, as is the case with cloud computing.
Cloud hosting is very different to hosting data yourself. This can be a concern as data is being handed to someone else. It is therefore important to use a reputable provider where data should be in safe hands.
Privacy is something that can potentially be compromised. Anyone with the right permissions can log in from any location. If strong usernames and passwords are not used and there isn’t another authentication then there is the possibility of access being gained by unauthorized persons.
As already mentioned, data is stored on multiple servers can be worrying, but there are security benefits of this. If a server encounters problems then these can be counteracted by another server being able to take the load. In some instances, an entire data center could be offline without disruption. Where data is stored on one dedicated server and it goes offline, then data cannot be accessed until the issue has been resolved. When stored in the cloud and a data center is impacted by a fire, for example, the data could still be accessed.
Storing data locally, for example on an individual laptop, has potential security issues that cloud computing can prevent. If the device is lost or stolen then everything is lost. If this data was instead stored in the cloud then it can still be accessed via another device.
Being able to gain access from anywhere is something else that can be a security benefit of cloud computing. If you urgently need to gain access then it doesn’t matter which location you are in – as long as you have an internet enabled the device with an internet connection.
As can be seen in the points covered in this article, security can be both a challenge and a benefit of cloud computing. Overall, security is improving, and most of the potential problems can be protected against if the right security measures are put in place.