10 Ways to Stay Safe in the Cloud

Though cloud security has advanced, applications in the public cloud are not as secure as applications stored on servers in enterprises. Even with security issues, cloud computing is becoming a necessity in businesses. Cloud computing is recommended for disaster recovery, for increased mobility and for increased accessibility of applications and data. When risks are reduced, cloud computing becomes a viable solution for many people.

Currently, The Cloud Security Alliance is promoting standards to improve cloud security and help the public feel more secure about hosting applications in the cloud. Future standards will make it easier to evaluate all business’s security based on a pre-selected basis. Currently, each business must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. This process is time-consuming and difficult. Until standards are more universal, here are some tips for staying safe in the cloud.

What is the Cloud?
Cloud computing describes the process of hosting applications, data, platforms or infrastructure on a remote server separate from each individual workstation. For instance, when applications are hosted in the cloud, users can access the applications from a web browser. The applications can be access from any location around the world. This increases mobility of the workforce and scalability of applications in an organization.
10 Ways to Stay Safe in the Cloud
The cloud saves organizations money on end-point devices, servers and IT professionals. When applications are hosted in the cloud, endpoint devices do not require upgrades as often. Memory requirements are not as high, and the need for leading edge processors and computing resources diminishes. If the servers are hosted off-site at a vendor location, vendors will handle all necessary upgrades for applications, servers and infrastructure. Even IT professionals are the responsibility of the vending company. Cloud computing is a viable and cost-effective solution.

Most companies want to use cloud computing but are afraid of the potential for security breaches. Here are 10 ways to remain safe and enjoy the benefits of cloud computing.

1. Know the Security Requirements for Applications and Data Hosted in the Cloud
The exact level of security is of each application should be known. Cloud vendors should have every feature necessary to ensure security needs are met. Service level agreements (SLAs) will display the security levels required to safely operate applications in the cloud. Most companies understand how to secure applications hosted on-site on in-house computers. Few companies understand how to adequately secure applications in the cloud. Vendors help address this problem.

2. Develop Security Policies
Develop security policies and share them with the organization. If everyone knows the security policy and adheres to the preventative measures, the cloud environment will remain safe for the entire community. Most organizations must first examine the vendor’s encryption technology. Data must be encrypted before it is transmitted via the cloud to prevent breaches. The level of encryption must be outlined by the company and adhered to by the vendors. The security policies should also describe how on-premise security systems work.

3. Determine What Services Your Cloud Provide is Capable of Providing
Access management and single sign-on architecture (SSO) should be integrated with your organization’s identity and access management standards. Companies often struggle with maintaining a high level of ID and access level control within the cloud. Vendors must ensure that high-level security can meet or exceed what can be provided in-house by the organization.

4. Determine the Vendor’s Data Protection Practices
Ask the vendor about the secure channels available for data transfer. Determine the vendor’s data protection policies and practices.

5. Determine the Physical Security Levels
Servers should be physically protected against theft, fire, flood and other unforeseen circumstances. Security personnel are a part of physical security. Determine if the personnel were required to pass background checks and whether or not the personnel have access to the data or applications hosted on-site. Determine if security personnel are monitored to avoid breaches. The personnel management practices should be determined prior to making a vendor selection.

6. Verify the Cloud Vendor’s Incident Response Policy
Vendors must inform users of any guarantees on incident response. This includes measures that must be taken if the infrastructure is hacked and how the vendor will respond if a hacking incident occurs. Most vendors offer up to $1 million for losses if data is hacked, but this amount varies from vendor to vendor.

7. Know Your Rights If an Incident Occurs
If an incident occurs, clients should know their legal rights. Determine who will be found liable if an incident occurs. Verify the terms in the contract before signing.

8. Determine The Protocol for Data Delivery and Disposal At the End of the Contract
The SLA should provide a detailed description of how data will be delivered to the client when the relationship is over. The client needs to determine if the data will be useful when the data is returned. Determine if the data can be used with another cloud service or internally once it is returned.

9. Determine the Vendor’s Mobile Strategy
Mobile applications are in high demand. Many companies are using mobile phones to access cloud applications more than other applications. Determine the vendor’s strategy for securing mobile applications to remain safe while operating applications in the cloud. This will prevent security breaches. Mobile applications are more vulnerable since more people are using the web.

10. Determine the Security Standards and Certification Groups
Ask the vendor about the certifications held. Vendors with active participation in certification groups or initiatives are probably more apt to keep your data and applications secure. On the other hand, a certification does not ensure optimal security. Cloud security standards should be determined prior to selecting a vendor. This practice will ensure organizations remain safe in the cloud.

Remain Safe and Secure In the Cloud
Organizations can remain safe and secure in the cloud by following these 10 steps. There are other precautions organizations may take, but these tips will also help to create a more secure environment. Consider these helpful tips for increased cloud safety.

About the Author: David Malmborg works with Dell, and enjoys writing about technology. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, the outdoors, and spending time with his family. You can find more information about Dell Cloud Computing here.