(The Hosting News) – Cloud computing is a growing trend among small businesses across the world, and is commonly seen as a universal panacea for all data sharing needs. An estimated 50% of online businesses currently use some form of cloud hosting solution, and this is set to rise over the coming years.
The expanding popularity of this data sharing method is no real surprise, considering the wide range of possibilities offered by cloud hosting. For instance, many businesses use free cloud hosting services such as Dropbox as a cheap and effective way of backing up the files on their computers. Others, such as Google Docs provide a useful means of real time file sharing with clients, or with colleagues during virtual meetings. Many organisations also use cloud hosting as a means of disseminating shared content, marketing material, and photographs.
The concept of cloud hosting is deceptively simple, although the possibilities opened up by these services are seemingly limitless. In essence, a cloud hosting solution is nothing more than data hosted on a remote server, which is then broadcast over the internet. This in itself should raise questions in the mind of anyone considering taking out a cloud hosting package.
There is no way of getting around the fact that businesses are entrusting their own data, and often those of their clients, to a third party provider. Accordingly, there are several security issues you should consider before choosing the best solution for you and your business.
- 1. Insecure Transfer of Data
Every piece of data that you upload to the server of a cloud hosting provider has to travel through the internet in order to get there. Your data is therefore only as safe as the internet connection you use. It is an easy mistake to assume that your transferred data is automatically secure. You should only connect to your cloud hosting provider with a secure URL prefaced by ‘https’. Additionally, it is a good precaution to encrypt sensitive information – such as customer’s contact details, before you move it over to the host.
- 2. The hosting provider’s API is not secure.
One of the top security issues connected with cloud computing is an insufficiently strong interface – or API. You should be aware of your provider’s API, and choose a service with a robust interface. A weak or ineffective API exposes your data to leakage, and could lead your clients to question your integrity and accountability when handling their information.
- 3. Insecure data storage
A cloud hosting provider is only as good as the security of their own server! It is the responsibility of the provider to effectively encrypt your data while it is hosted on their system, and then be able to transmit it back to you on demand in a secure state. This consideration is work checking before taking on a cloud hosting contract, and providers who offer strong data integrity guarantees are to be preferred over those who do not, or who give only vague guarantees.
- 4. Poor control over user access
Most businesses operate a hierarchy of data security levels, where information vital to the business is accessible on a ‘needs to know’ basis. This stratification should be transferable to your cloud hosting solution. In operation, this means that a host should offer you a service that can be broken down into different storage areas, accessed through different passwords and secure connections. This issue is also applicable regarding the cloud host company’s own employees. If you use a provider to host sensitive or highly personal information, such as financial account details, access to this data needs to be strictly controlled. It is not acceptable for instance, for anybody on the company’s help desk to be able to access your storage at will. It is recommended that you enquire about the host’s data access policy before contracting with them, in order to ascertain who will be able to view your information.
- 5. Inadequate data separation
When you sign up for a cloud hosting service it is unlikely that you will be provided with a complete server for your exclusive use! Instead, the provider will create virtual containers within the server using hypervisor software. The result is that the provider’s hardware is utilised by many different clients. A security issue arises when these virtual boundaries are themselves insecure, or become corrupted. This could allow a malicious hacker to gain access to all information stored on a given server, regardless of the source of the attack. It is essential therefore, that the cloud host’s compartmentalisation method is up to scratch, and that there are sufficient fall back plans in place to protect the integrity of your data (and other clients) in the event of a security breach.
The advent of cloud hosting marks a watershed in internet data sharing, one which offers many profound opportunities to online businesses. It is certain that the benefits of cloud hosting outweigh the potential security risks, although; as with any service on the internet, it pays to go into any agreement with open eyes, and after taking reasonable precautions.
An article is written by Kate Willer. I like social networks, Google android and psychology. My favorite tool for this is Antimalware Doctore from malwareguide.net. I’m interested in IT services, computer upgrades, computer repair, different computer apps. Love travelling and skiing.