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MythBuster: Demystifying Illusions of App Security in the Cloud

Do you still think that Cloud services are fully secure? Read this article and you'll know that nothing as it seems.

A great number of app development companies and enterprises from all corners of the world utilize Cloud services in order to keep their data records and trade secrets safe, updated, and available upon request at any time. Cloud apps and services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive are familiar to any experienced Internet user. They are beneficial for business because any company employee can access, update, or download the necessary data in a matter of seconds. The problem is, a Cloud-based environment involves certain safety issues. None of the contemporary Cloud environment is one hundred percent safe; they all have at least one tiny loophole within their security.

     

With different Cloud services launched every day, the Internet becomes the best helper for almost every business. Taking into consideration the need for security, enterprises need to develop an effective and powerful game plan to safeguard confidential information. In this article, I debunk the most widespread myths and prejudices against cloud safety that can prevent you from keeping your information private.

Myth #1: All Cloud Services Have Standard Security Protocols

When it comes to protection of digital content, not all Cloud vendors are identical. Security packages differ significantly from one service provider to another.  

However, industry professionals are trying to improve the overall security of Cloud services and simplify the process of assessing the level of safety of hosting providers. For instance, Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), a non-profit organization, launched an open registry program that allows registered companies to perform a self-evaluation of their security level. In addition to assessing, CSA also publishes the most effective practices used to ensure security and allows people to examine the potential Cloud service.

Cloud users should remember that there are no security standards in Cloud computing. Providers can adhere to any strategy they like, depending on the specific particularities of the hosting platform.

Furthermore, for Cloud providers security is not the main area of expertise since, first of all, they operate as hosting providers. Of course, they all have at least a minimum level of security, and due to the specifics of the operation, they are extremely vulnerable to external attacks and threats. However, it is up to the vendor to decide on the proper security practice that works for a particular hosting service.

Myth #2: Hosted Apps are Fully Secure in Cloud Services

Many people suggest that applications are safe within the hosted environment. They are sure that Cloud service vendors look after their personal content. But in real life, hosting providers assign responsibility for app security on customers themselves. Don't get us wrong, the confidentiality and security of stored information are the highest priorities for the Cloud service, otherwise, they would not be able to attract and keep their users. But they usually operate under the shared responsibility model, a popular security paradigm used by the majority of hosting services that implies an allocation of authority zones. Naturally, it means that the Cloud service vendor is fully responsible for the security of basic information and the safety of data centers while the customer manages personal data and applications he or she deploys.

As it was stated before, service providers mainly choose to share the security responsibility. hosting vendors emphasize that while they regulate the security OF the Cloud, customers take care of the security IN the Cloud.

It's important for companies and enterprises to realize where their area of responsibility is to ensure the best security possible. They may use additional tools and services to strengthen the safety of important information and prevent it from leaking or being attacked by hackers. It is not the right time to sit back and relax when it comes to Cloud security because no one will take care of it but you.

Myth #3: Clouds and Data Centers are the Same in Terms of Security

The next popular delusion is that Cloud service vendors provide the identical level of protection for both Cloud-hosted apps and applications in enterprise data centers. Hardly anyone can argue that the essentials of security remain the same across all IT fields. However, companies should adhere to safety rules and be careful when granting access to confidential files.

On the contrary, venture data centers are totally different in terms of the approach in which access is provided in the Cloud. With the advent of mobile applications that provide instant access to any Cloud service and allow sharing of any data with business partners, traditional security rules are no longer applied.

 

                       

In a modern environment, the process of giving permission to view certain data or use the app became more complex. One of the main factors that add intricacy to the task is that a variety of companies utilize a hybrid IT environment that combines public, private, and enterprise Cloud services. To make this surrounding secure, companies need to prohibit inbound access to the internal foundation and isolate definite applications from unauthorized users. In addition to that, enterprises should train their employees on how to work within a chosen Cloud model.

Myth #4: DMZ Secures Cloud Services

As I have already mentioned, the traditional approaches of providing internal file security are no longer very effective. For that reason, some enterprises integrate Traditional Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) technology into the Cloud service with the help of dedicated big pipes; however, in the majority of cases, as a result they acquire significant latency of the traffic that is not tolerable for the business environment.

Cloud DMZ functions as a transmission point that regulates all security throughout the cloud environment and across any location. Cloud DMZ, however, is different from a traditional DMZ since there are no limits regarding the number of devices that are used to access the information hosted in the Cloud.

Cloud DMZ has several purposes. One of them is to terminate a potentially hazardous session that came from an untrusted location and prevents a connection to possibly dangerous zones. In addition, it ensures protection of each component in the Cloud and manages the resources.

Myth #5 VPNs Protect Applications in the Cloud

Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs for short, are featured as a safe way to provide access to enterprise apps for remote users. The basic idea of their application is that when the application is in the Cloud, no additional security measures are required. However, virtual private networks aren't as secure as you may think. VPN technology is utilized to attach remote users or offices to a highly secured network. Companies fell in love with this technology since it's cheaper than any other available methods of shared access, such as dedicated leased lines.

VPNs have downsides that became apparent with the advent of Cloud technology for mobile phones. On the one hand, it provides extremely widespread access to the Cloud network, even if it is not necessary. It's a secure way to remote endpoints such as a PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. On the other hand, users possess an unlimited access to ALL applications in the Cloud, even though in most cases they utilize a very narrow range of them.

Moreover, if a device that is connected to the Cloud network is infected with viruses or malware applications, they can find a vulnerability within the Cloud service. As a result, all applications may be at risk of infection.

Another significant disadvantage is VPNs don't utilize user identities to administer and control who is accessing the Cloud apps. Even though users are signed in, the level of access is not clear, and a user can get to any application in the Cloud with no additional restrictions. In addition, despite the fact that Virtual Private Networks work with firewalls that afford some filtration, network policies evolve over time, and it becomes impossible to manage the app visibility for remote users.

If you don't think you've heard enough, let us point you to another serious drawback of VPNs. They have a weak security policy upon providing access to applications to third parties. It can be a business partner, subcontractor, or consultant who needs to access a specific application for a defined period of time. Usually, in VPNs, it's quite time-consuming to manage a level of access for third parties.

Final Thoughts from the MythBuster

Companies or businesses that plan out their Cloud strategy should always keep the myths described above in mind in order to secure confidential data. Data security is an acute problem that requires the accurate set of Cloud apps and tools to be fully effective. In addition, businesses should take into account all the details regarding Cloud security carefully and weigh the pros and cons. Proper Cloud vendors need to be chosen based on every upside and downside of all available Cloud services and apps.


 

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