Since the very idea of cloud took hold, the potential security drawbacks were the very first question in people’s minds. “Scalable, elastic resources, at need, with no CapEx? Sound great, but how secure is it?”
That’s a very reasonable concern. After all, it’s someone else’s hardware, someone else’s facility, someone else’s firewall — but it’s your business.
But since it’s everyone’s primary concern, everyone has been very motivated to address it. Over the past few years, cloud has overtaken other forms of IT investment (Gartner says that the growth of cloud is ‘peaking’ now at 18 percent as the market reaches saturation). With such a substantial investment and participation from every level of business and technology, security measures have evolved apace.
To tackle the types of security benefits that cloud provides, let’s break it down into three categories; benefits of scale, infrastructure, and expertise.
Benefits of Scale
The first, most important benefit of cloud security is that cloud is a $2.5 trillion industry, and is relied on by everyone from the smallest startups to the U.S. government. That’s a lot of resources to throw at a problem.
This leads to a kind of pooling of resources. The problems people face are widely disseminated and the solutions become widely known. As different organizations bring their requirements to various providers and their security needs are met, it becomes easier to replicate those higher standards than maintain differing ones, and so everyone’s security standards are rising. To see this process in practice, consider the increasing adoption of two-factor authentication over merely requiring user-chosen passwords.
Finally, the general atmosphere of due diligence is contributing to an environment where cloud service providers take responsibility for myriad aspects of data security, from preventing the hijacking of your user accounts to the API of the browser extensions you use.
Benefits of Infrastructure
Cloud ushered in a brave new world of interfaces between data, hardware, and users. With it came the opportunity to reimagine the infrastructure that supports those interfaces, and as a result, the very underpinnings of the cloud are designed with security first in mind.
Some of this is due to the very nature of the shared resources of the cloud. Like condo living, you want the benefits of the on-site gym, laundry and day care, but without the shared areas being too crowded or being able to overhear your neighbors’ dinner parties through the walls.
These competing demands forced cloud providers to build segmentable, isolatable components for their users’ security and privacy, along with a “smart” hypervisor layer that is able to manage resource deployment effectively, prevent outages, and identify and contain any malicious attacks. It’s quite a sophisticated setup.
A classic example of the cloud security advantage is the DDoS attack. Distributed Denial of Service attacks rely on bringing an avalanche of resources to bear on a service. But a cloud provider may be able to bring even more resources to bear.
Benefits of Homogeneity
The tremendous size and scope of the cloud creates two, seemingly opposite trends.
The first is convergence, a kind of systematization of form and function, a collectivisation of best practices. This leads to a certain homogenization, where there’s a suite of solutions that are collectively agreed upon to work the best for a given situation. This suite is ever-shifting as the frontiers of IT needs expands, but it still exists.
This collective agreement leads to a collective expertise. Yet, crucially, this expertise can’t be codified, since it changes on a monthly or even weekly basis. Only the security technologists who spend their days immersed in the field can hope to keep up. As a result, this homogenization has made high levels of expertise even more elusive.
That kind of expertise isn’t easy to find; nor does it come cheap. But the cloud allows for this sharing of expertise as readily as it does any other resource, and the homogeneity of cloud providers (as opposed to homebrew solutions) tends to maintain a high standard of operational robustness.
These are the experts who are learning the newest exploits, writing the patches and pushing them to deployment. These are the people ensuring that the firewalls get updated constantly with the newest information. There’s a lot to handle but it works at scale due to the nature of modern cloud environments.
If you’d like to discuss your security concerns with our in-house cloud experts, just give us a call and we’ll set something up. We want you to be fully confident in your decision to pursue cloud deployment.