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Minimization of Risks in Cloud Computing: What are the Possible solutions?

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Cloud computing has become a boon in terms of solutions for storage problems at the enterprise level. The integration of cloud computing platforms has helped businesses to reduce costs and increase speed & effectiveness thus bringing in increased revenues to not only the Information Technology sector but other industries as well. But does this imply that cloud computing is robust and risk free? Though the benefits of cloud computing are beyond doubt, investment on any technology calls for a strong. What if the risks involved in investing on cloud technology outweigh its benefits?

Recently, there have been records of risk issues in cloud computing platforms, such as the partial outage of Amazon’s EC2 cloud service, security breach of Sony’s PlayStation network and Qriocity music service. It simply implies that enterprise customers do lack the ability to have control over their data. In order to make the best use of the cloud computing technology, it is important to decrease the risks involved in the platform. Below, we discuss the possible security risks involved in cloud computing technology and the appropriate corrective and/or preventive measures to eradicate these risks.

Cloud computing technology providers have a long way to go provided they can deliver robust technologies to their clients. In this regard, security risks in software interfacing, data storage and retrieval, user access control and data separation are a few issues that still need to be addressed. From the above highlighted issues, reliability and security are the two most prominent risks involved in the cloud computing platform.
Cloud Computing operates on an Internet platform which in turn is dependent on the flow of data between the data center & storage devices. Hence, it is vital that the connection path/ data path is secured from unauthorized access. We would have seen the “https” appearing in green for certain websites and not for certain other websites. The green color indicates the security level involved in the connections and users must keep an eye on the data security.

Realizing the market opportunities for security solutions for cloud computing, Startups have emerged. For example, Cloud Enabler is one such startup that works on integrating security standards to the potential risks in the cloud platform. Another startup, CtrlS provides secured cloud computing services for enterprise level clients. Some of the key measures to mitigate cloud computing risks in enterprise level would be:

Authorized access hierarchy
People within an organization who are privileged users, – such as database administrators and employees with access to highly valuable intellectual property – should receive a higher level of scrutiny, receive training on securely handling data, and stronger access control.

User context limited data access
The level of access to data in the cloud should be changed depending on where the user is and what device they are using. For example, an employee can have access to records corresponding to the company while inside the office environment with the applied security essentials. But when he/she is accessing the same outside the office framework, for example from home, then there should be additional levels of security for signing in from their mobiles/tablets.

Risk based approach
Databases with highly sensitive or valuable data should be identified. Additionally, these databases should be secured with extra protection, encryption and monitoring around them.

Extend security
Corporate data should be isolated from personal data on the mobile device. A patch management agent should be installed on mobile devices so that the device is always running the latest level of software. Mobile applications should be scanned for vulnerabilities.

Intelligence to network protection
The network still needs to be protected – never more so than in the cloud. Network protection devices need to have the ability to provide extra control with analytics and insight into which users are accessing what content and applications.

Build in the ability to see through the cloud
Security devices, such as those validating user IDs and passwords, capture security data to create the audit trail needed for regulatory compliance and forensic investigation. The trick is to find meaningful signals about a potential attack or security risk in a sea of data points.
Business enterprises need to consider the security solutions mentioned above in order to explore the many possibilities that cloud computing can open up for their businesses.

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