Cloud Security Services and the Importance of Securing Apps Before Transitioning to the Cloud

| February 6, 2013

Many IT professionals believe the cloud to be less secure than a home-based server environment. This may or may not be true; some cloud environments are certainly more secure than others. From a company perspective, though, choosing a cloud hosting environment is only one part of the cloud security challenge. Securing your data is ultimately your responsibility, and this begins well before releasing data into the cloud.

Choosing a Secure Cloud Environment

Different cloud environments offer different security levels. Before choosing a cloud hosting provider, be sure to understand its capabilities and the level of security provided. Check to determine whether security updates are automated, how quickly the host servers react to new threats, and how frequently software patches are identified and applied. The cloud environment should provide as much or more security than you would have on a home-based server. For maximum protection, you could even create a hybrid public-private cloud that leaves your data sitting behind the corporate firewall.

Securing the Applications

Choosing the right environment is only part of the battle. If the applications themselves are not secure, you won't get any benefit from a secure cloud network, as the programs will be subject to attack based on its programming, its general use, or any number of factors. Cross-site scripting and SQL injections have existed for almost as long as the Internet itself, and may create problems for an application regardless of whether it's hosted on a local or cloud-based server.

Part of this process is taking a simple inventory of the applications to be hosted. As you move to a cloud-based infrastructure, your internal budget should adjust accordingly, allowing a person to direct each application and manage its security. Apply any recommended security patches that affect those applications, building security into your company's automatic processes.

Securing Data Transfer

Most cloud service providers always encrypt data in transit. Make sure this is the case before entrusting your data to any cloud server. Also, keep in mind that the data may not be stored in an encrypted container in the cloud-based hosting environment. It's crucial that you develop your own encryption process to complement the one provided by the cloud environment—and you can further prevent data breaches by actively managing your data.

Actively Maintaining Data Relationships

The cloud is no more a "dump and forget" solution than are on-site servers. In each case, your data remains your responsibility. Developing secured applications enhances the security mechanisms of any cloud-based environment. It helps to encrypt your data before transferring, and to periodically check on security updates or breaches the provider has established or fought.

Ultimately, the cloud becomes an extension of your business. You'll continue to manage your applications, enjoying the benefits of cloud hosting and scalability by allocating your resources to specific tasks. Above all, it's essential to maintain, test, and enhance the security of your applications.

If you need help fortifying the security of your cloud environment, contact one of our expert administrators to talk about what our cloud security services can do for your business.