Cloud Security Myth Busters Edition : Is Data Stored in the Cloud Safe?
The short answer is there is no such things as perfectly, safe, 100% secured data. Data stored in-house is vulnerable to physical harm like fire or tampering from disgruntled employees. Data stored in a cloud, while protected from physical destruction, is vulnerable to hackers.
Since we know that there is no such thing as 100% safe data, the key objective of security infrastructure whether in-house or a cloud solution is to make it as secure as reasonably possible. What this translates to in the real world is that the cost to compromise a system must be much higher than the resulting cost to the business. For example: RSA keys. While a quantum computer can crack an RSA code, they’re expensive and generally inaccessible so using RSA keys to secure data is currently a suitable level of protection.
The cloud hosting is (usually) safer than in-house storage solutions, but there are many factors that should be taken into account when determining the cloud security level and compliance of a data storage solution. Both dedicated servers and cloud hosting can be very safe.
It’s Not Hackers You Should Worry About.
There’s a misconception in data security (thanks, Hollywood!) that genius hackers typing a few keys on a keyboard is enough to crack an encryption at a high-security facility. The reality is not usually so glamorous or covert. The main culprits of a security breach are:
- social engineering
- human error
- unsafe passwords, and
- protocol exploits.
That means, provided your data is encrypted, it matters less where your data is stored physically and it matters more how you create, store, use, and distribute the passwords that unlock your data.
The key to keep in mind is that this needs to be applied to securing data in every context. Of course, every business would like their data security to be impenetrable, but creating complexity instead of security is often the result. This is where a simplified data security protocol fairs much better than old-fashioned protocols still followed by some businesses to this day.
For example, requiring employees to create complicated passwords with every key on the keyboard and then requiring them to change it every few months. This leads to impossible-to-remember passwords that are saved on computers and therefore accessible to hackers. In the alternative, they choose unsafe passwords that are easy to remember and institute a process of adding a trailing number at the end each time they are prompted to change their password.
To make things worse, employees are rarely trained on how credentials should be used or handled. They often send passwords via email or in configuration files without encryption. Within these circumstances, the ability for a malicious employee to run amok with sensitive data is near endless.
Passwords aren’t the only weak spot when it comes to in-house security. Protocol exploits are a real danger that arises because technology advances, improves, grows, and changes at warp speed. If a software provider releases a patch to fix an urgent security bug, some companies with slow bureaucratic procedures (for security) will keep them from implementing the patch and therefore leaving the company vulnerable.
Cloud hosting to the rescue.
On the other hand you can compare that to cloud hosting. Security protocols like two-factor authentication can be set up to increase the security of passwords and virtually eliminate the possibility of social engineering or a malicious employee. Reputable cloud hosting companies will have security guarding the physical servers and round-the-clock IT staff to monitor and troubleshoot any issues. These IT people can be much more singularly dedicated to safety and cloud security than an in-house IT team could be, because it is their only job.
The downside is that if you lose Internet access, you lose access to your data. The data is still safe, but temporarily unavailable. This is not something that would not affect a local network with dedicated servers. Another challenges is the lack of actually knowledge of where your data is hosted (you really should know this), and what technology is protecting it. Not all cloud providers are willing to share this with you.
Cloud-hosting providers also adhere to a high level of compliance. For example, at Macquarie Cloud Services, our technology, platforms, and processes are externally audited and kept in compliance with PCI and ISO as well as government certifications. Our staff are checked and approved for government duty, which means that you can rest easier knowing that professionals are working hard to ensure that your data is safe and secure.
The takeaway of this is that reputable cloud-hosting providers will already have strong cloud security protocols built into their service designed to keep you and your data safe. They have the certifications and a range of additional security and DR add-ons to protect and backup your data.
However, to ease concerns, the safest route is to encrypt any data that is saved to a cloud drive with your own security keys before uploading it.
Macquarie Cloud Services offers one of the most secure cloud hosting solutions in Australia. In fact, we secure the Internet for over 40% of Australia’s federal government agencies and have industry-leading SLGs. Want to learn more? Click here.