The cloud isn’t some magical structure existing among the ephemera of our data and internet traffic. It is a physical series of routers, network switches, switches, and other network components that make up the cloud.
Clouds are an integral part of modern business, offering innovative solutions, backups, disaster recovery, and more. Your business probably relies on cloud technology for some of its most essential operations.
But what is the cloud and how is it built? How does one keep the cloud secure from the myriad threats that face connected networks every day?
In this article, we are going to explore the three cloud service methods—IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS—along with the four deployment methods and security procedures for each.
1. Infrastructure As A Service
The first service model for the cloud is infrastructure as a service or IaaS. IaaS is basically just a collection of both physical and virtual resources that help businesses run applications in the cloud.
An IaaS provider usually has large data centers located around the world that house the actual machines that power the general functions of this service model. The virtual component or “virtual machine” version of IaaS is what the actual organizations will use.
IaaS enables users to build a virtual data center—cloud resources designed specifically for a company and its needs—and scale/balance their workloads as needed. To ensure you maintain security in an IaaS cloud, it is a good idea to encrypt your data, since it moves between on-premises and cloud-based premises in most cases. This should guard it against unauthorized access or theft.
Be sure to configure your cloud resources properly as well, since a misconfigured cloud can result in a data breach.
Make sure you use a password and role-based system to only allow authorized users access to the cloud and don’t leave your data storage open to the internet. This way, you’ll reinforce the safety of your cloud while optimizing its use.
2. Platform As A Service
PaaS allows users to use a complete cloud platform where they can create, run, and deploy software. It is a way to manage and develop applications with more flexibility and less complexity than that of an on-premises platform.
PaaS providers host everything from servers, networks, and operating systems to databases and development tools. All the resources are usually available for a fixed price or a pay-as-you-go pricing structure. This provides options and scalability at reduced costs.
Think about the leading cloud services like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Each of these has its own PaaS resources and offerings available.
PaaS allows the software to get to the market faster, with more freedom to experiment with solutions that work the best. It is pretty cost-effective, too. Securing a PaaS cloud involves understanding what the provider’s security looks like and whether or not they meet data security requirements.
Users can also use threat modeling and prediction to understand what kind of security issues might come up during software development, look for software vulnerabilities, and only allow access to current users with a role-based identity system.
3. Software As A Service
SaaS is short for software as a service and it refers to when a company is granted access to software without the need to build it themselves on a server.
On the vendor side, SaaS enables faster development time and software maintenance. On the user end, it allows easy customization of the various applications. This way, a company can have a unique software or upgrade that decreases both overall costs and mitigates any potential risks.
Accessibility in the SaaS environment is key here as well, as managing users/user privileges and monitoring data is accomplished more readily with consistent information available across the board to all users. You may have seen software referred to as web-based software or on-demand software, but they both refer to SaaS applications.
Cloud Deployment Methods
When you are using resources in the cloud, there are a few different deployment options. Each one corresponds to where the resources are located. These are Public, Private, Community, and Hybrid.
Public clouds are available to anyone to purchase. Since more than one organization or individual can access or purchase these, there is a slightly higher security risk. A single security flaw can cause ripples of damage across the entire structure.
It is more difficult to enhance your security across the public cloud than on a private or hybrid cloud. Private clouds are specifically built for a single company, where the data can be stored either on a public cloud or in your company’s data center. It is not shared with others.
As the name implies, community clouds cover sharing between different businesses. Think of it as several branches of a business, government, or agency sharing the same services.
Hybrid clouds are a combination of two or all of the different cloud deployment methods. This might mean a business uses a public and private cloud or a community and public cloud or any combination thereof.
Hybrid clouds offer excellent security options, as the use of containers and encrypted APIs allow users to run critical work in the private cloud while allocating less vital tasks to the public cloud. It is not foolproof by any means, but it offers a robust security option for that particular deployment method.
Now that you understand how the cloud works, here is how to keep it secure. Common threats to cloud security include misconfiguration, data breaches, and insecure interfaces/APIs.
Another issue facing cloud security is unauthorized access. Unauthorized access, can occur when a poorly configured access port (or compromised security credentials) let an attacker gain direct access to the cloud. Cyber attacks and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks can also have a negative impact on the security of your cloud.
Reinforcing your cloud security adds standard security elements to cloud architecture. These are your antivirus programs, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and related programs.
Keeping the cloud security requires both hardware and software solutions, as well as a generous helping of risk management. Ultimately, cloud security helps ensure your cloud is functioning properly, in compliance with established regulations, and operating safely for the entire organization.
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