Cloud Security

DEFINITION of 'Cloud Security'

Cloud security is the protection of data stored online from theft, leakage and deletion. Methods of providing cloud security include firewalls, penetration testing, obfuscation, tokenization, virtual private networks (VPN), and avoiding public internet connections. Major threats to cloud security include data breaches, data loss, account hijacking, service traffic hijacking, insecure application program interfaces (APIs), poor choice of cloud storage providers, and shared technology that can compromise cloud security. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are another threat to cloud security. These attacks shut down a service by overwhelming it with data so that users cannot access their accounts, such as bank accounts or email accounts.

BREAKING DOWN 'Cloud Security'

Many users are concerned about the security of the data they store in the cloud. They believe their data is safer on their own local servers where they feel they have more control over the data. But data stored in the cloud may actually be more secure because cloud service providers have superior security measures and their employees are security experts. On-premise data can be more vulnerable to security breaches, depending on the type of attack. Social engineering and malware can make any data storage system vulnerable, but on-site data may be more vulnerable since its guardians are less experienced in detecting security threats.

Cloud security is a key concern for cloud storage providers. They not only must satisfy their customers; they also must follow certain regulatory requirements for storing sensitive data such as credit card numbers and health information. Third party audits of a cloud provider’s security systems and procedures help ensure that users’ data is safe.

Maintaining the security of data in the cloud extends beyond securing the cloud itself. Cloud users must protect access to the cloud that can be gained from data stored on mobile devices or carelessness with login credentials. Another cloud security issue is that data stored on a cloud hosted in another country may be subject to different regulations and privacy measures.

When choosing a cloud provider, it is important to choose a company that tries to protect against malicious insiders through background checks and security clearances. Most people think outside hackers are the biggest thread to cloud security, but employees present just as large of a risk. These employees are not necessarily malicious insiders; they are often employees who unknowingly make mistakes such as using a personal smartphone to access sensitive company data without the security of the company’s own network.