Cloud computing is a modern system wherein processing is shared amongst a system of linked servers referred to as "the cloud." While this system boasts increased computational power and ease of access, it is an inherently insecure system when compared to traditional hardwire networks.

While no system is absolutely perfect, attaining a high level of security should be the first and chief concern when constructing a cloud system. This article will address some of the most popular categorical systems of cloud security.

Issues Inherent to Cloud Computing

Because of the nature of cloud computing, certain weaknesses are inherent in the system.

Physical Vulnerability - cloud computing systems are only as secure as their weakest server. Because of this, any physical damage to the device during environmental hazard or any physical hacking of the device will render any security system asunder, exposing vital and secret information to all who wish to access it.

Software Holes and Vulnerabilities - because the cloud depends on a system of software applications to control access and monitor the system as a whole, any data on the cloud is vulnerable to exploits, holes, and vulnerabilities in the target software. A great example of this was the recent HeartBleed bug, a bug which opened thousands of servers with the HeartBleed exploit to would-be hackers, exposing credit card information and social security numbers.

Denial of Service - due to the communal nature of the cloud, the total speed and availability of the service is limited by the amount of concurrent connections allowed. Hackers often use this to their advantage, pumping the server with artificial requests in an attack known as a Denial of Service (or, when multiple hackers or machines are involved, a Distributed Denial of Service, aka DDOS), denying legitimate requests for access for illegitimate connections.

Securing the System

The cloud system can be secured if the proper steps are taken. Each "layer" of security adds yet another wall for the hacker to work against, improving security exponentially.

Identity Management - having complex passwords, unique usernames, encrypted user credentials and more can prevent a hacker from ever gaining a foothold on your server.

Application Security - encrypting the connection between the device requesting connection and the server can put an end to so-called "man in the middle attacks" which hijack connections to inject malicious packets into the server.

Personnel Security - anti-social engineering training can teach your staff to never give personal information to unverified people, securing the human element of your network.

Physical Security - limiting access to your servers to verified staff and protecting them from environmental hazards can increase your security ten-fold.

Make Your Choice

Fundamentally, a cloud service administrator should treat all the data under their command as if it was their own - the radical, intense, and obsessive protection we employ on our own data should extend to the data for which we are responsible. Click here to read more.