Top 5 Cloud Storage Security Challenges

Top 5 Cloud Storage Security Challenges | #ESC_LLC #Cloud #Data #Storage | Cloud service adoption has rapidly increased since this blog was first posted in 2010. With that in mind, we thought we’d provide you with an update to better reflect the ever-increasing cloud storage security challenges faced by modern enterprises today, and how solutions like Nasuni overcome them. (please scroll down for more)

To start, businesses have shifted from wondering whether they should take advantage of the cloud to planning how they are going to make it an integral part of their IT infrastructures. For all the advantages of storing data in the cloud, however, fundamental security concerns remain. First and foremost is that your data moves outside the well-established and carefully constructed security perimeter of your organization. That scares some businesses, as it seems to go against some of the basic tenets of good security. But a properly designed cloud-based storage solution can effectively extend the security perimeter of your office, ensuring that your data is always safe in transit and at rest.

If you are considering moving unstructured data to the cloud, here are the top five cloud storage security challenges your solution should address if you hope to keep your business data safe.

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———- Additional information on cloud data security:

Cloud Storage is a model of computer data storage in which the digital data is stored in logical pools. The physical storage spans multiple servers (sometimes in multiple locations), and the physical environment is typically owned and managed by a hosting company. These cloud storage providers are responsible for keeping the data available and accessible, and the physical environment protected and running. People and organizations buy or lease storage capacity from the providers to store user, organization, or application data.

Cloud storage services may be accessed through a colocated cloud computing service, a web service application programming interface (API) or by applications that utilize the API, such as cloud desktop storage, a cloud storage gateway or Web-based content management systems.

Advantages

  • Companies need only pay for the storage they actually use, typically an average of consumption during a month.[10] This does not mean that cloud storage is less expensive, only that it incurs operating expenses rather than capital expenses.
  • Businesses using cloud storage can cut their energy consumption by up to 70% making them a more green business.[11] Also at the vendor level they are dealing with higher levels of energy so they will be more equipped with managing it in order to keep their own costs down as well.
  • Organizations can choose between off-premises and on-premises cloud storage options, or a mixture of the two options, depending on relevant decision criteria that is complementary to initial direct cost savings potential; for instance, continuity of operations (COOP), disaster recovery (DR), security (PII, HIPAA, SARBOX, IA/CND), and records retention laws, regulations, and policies.[12]
  • Storage availability and data protection is intrinsic to object storage architecture, so depending on the application, the additional technology, effort and cost to add availability and protection can be eliminated.[13]
  • Storage maintenance tasks, such as purchasing additional storage capacity, are offloaded to the responsibility of a service provider.[10]
  • Cloud storage provides users with immediate access to a broad range of resources and applications hosted in the infrastructure of another organization via a web service interface.[14]
  • Cloud storage can be used for copying virtual machine images from the cloud to on-premises locations or to import a virtual machine image from an on-premises location to the cloud image library. In addition, cloud storage can be used to move virtual machine images between user accounts or between data centers.[15]
  • Cloud storage can be used as natural disaster proof backup, as normally there are 2 or 3 different backup servers located in different places around the globe.
  • Cloud storage can be mapped as a local drive with the WebDAV protocol. It can function as a central file server for organizations with multiple office locations.

Potential concerns

Outsourcing data storage increases the attack surface area.[16]

  1. When data has been distributed it is stored at more locations increasing the risk of unauthorized physical access to the data. For example, in cloud based architecture, data is replicated and moved frequently so the risk of unauthorized data recovery increases dramatically. Such as in the case of disposal of old equipment, reuse of drives, reallocation of storage space. The manner that data is replicated depends on the service level a customer chooses and on the service provided. When encryption is in place it can ensure confidentiality. Crypto-shredding can be used when disposing of data (on a disk).
  2. The number of people with access to the data who could be compromised (e.g., bribed, or coerced) increases dramatically. A single company might have a small team of administrators, network engineers, and technicians, but a cloud storage company will have many customers and thousands of servers, therefore a much larger team of technical staff with physical and electronic access to almost all of the data at the entire facility or perhaps the entire company.[17] Decryption keys that are kept by the service user, as opposed to the service provider, limit the access to data by service provider employees. As for sharing multiple data in the cloud with multiple users, a large number of keys has to be distributed to users via secure channels for decryption, also it has to be securely stored and managed by the users in their devices. Storing these keys requires rather expensive secure storage. To overcome that, key-aggregate cryptosystem[18] can be used.
  3. It increases the number of networks over which the data travels. Instead of just a local area network (LAN) or storage area network (SAN), data stored on a cloud requires a WAN (wide area network) to connect them both.
  4. By sharing storage and networks with many other users/customers it is possible for other customers to access your data. Sometimes because of erroneous actions, faulty equipment, a bug and sometimes because of criminal intent. This risk applies to all types of storage and not only cloud storage. The risk of having data read during transmission can be mitigated through encryption technology. Encryption in transit protects data as it is being transmitted to and from the cloud service.[19] Encryption at rest protects data that is stored at the service provider. Encrypting data in an on-premises cloud service on-ramp system can provide both kinds of encryption protection.

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