There are a number of different schools of thought when it comes to securing information stored and accessed in the cloud. Some even hold the opinion that the platform is inherently unsafe, and therefore are hesitant to adopt the technology. Although concerns about cloud security have historically been the top roadblock to its widespread usage, when proper data protection measures are put in place, the cloud can bring innumerable benefits to its users.
One such critical safeguard is cloud encryption, which the security experts at Trend Micro note is a cornerstone of cloud security, according to Computer Weekly contributor Jennifer Scott.
Cloud encryption addresses lingering security fears
Trend Micro solutions architect Udo Schneider noted that security still tops the list of issues keeping some organizations from deploying a cloud strategy.
"It might be driven by paranoia, but still all the different analysts and conversations with customers show security is still number one," Schneider said. "Most other problems, I don't want to say they are solved, but they are addressed. Security is still one of the things where, even if there are solutions in the market today – which there are – if you add cloud computing to the equation, they have to be done in a different, efficient way."
While these fears – however unfounded they may be – still exist in the business space, Schneider noted that cloud encryption is the key to changing these groups' minds. The basis for many of these security concerns is the fact that organizations are relinquishing control of their data and trusting cloud service providers to protect it for them. However, cloud encryption can provide an added level of management, effectively addressing these worries.
"[I]f a company wants to keep that feeling of control around their data, the best move is to encrypt anything before you send it out from your own environment and keep that key close to your chest," Scott wrote. "By handling this control … the problem of where to store your data sh[r]inks and the opportunities to take advantage of cloud providers around the world opens up."
In this way, cloud encryption not only provides an added level of authority over a company's data, but also increases their peace of mind when transmitting this information to their cloud vendor. Schneider noted that this step can help an organization feel better about their oversight and regulation of their information, even though it is physically out of their hands.
Infosec Island contributor Steve Pate also noted that with cloud encryption in place, service providers cannot access the sensitive company data stored with them, resulting in added confidence when businesses migrate their important information in the cloud. By closely guarding the encryption keys on site, administrators have complete control over who can read or make changes to any cloud-based files.
Meeting regulations in a multi-tenancy environment
Another perk connected with cloud encryption is the fact that it keeps information siloed from other data center occupants. Pate pointed out that many enterprises opt for a multi-tenancy space due to its cost-effectiveness and flexibility. However, this also means that information from a number of different data center clients is stored on the same machine.
This approach can become especially problematic within industries that have specific regulations connected with information protection. Companies in the retail, finance and other sectors must ensure that their customers' data is safeguarded against unauthorized access and remains in their control. If stored in a multi-tenancy environment, some of this control is lost. By leveraging encryption and guarding the keys, information management can be regained. Furthermore, Pate pointed out that that while some industry regulations don't specifically require encryption, it is strongly recommended. With a cloud encryption solution at play, businesses are able to separate their data from others in the multi-tenancy space, and maintain compliance with the standards governing their sector.
"If you encrypt data before it enters the cloud, and retain control of the encryption keys, you can ensure your data is safe, regardless of its neighbors," Pate wrote. "And given the high cost of breach notification and the fact that DLP technology is always revealing sensitive data in places you wouldn't have thought of, doesn't encryption just make sense?"
Overall, cloud encryption provides a level of control and peace of mind that can not only ease security concerns, but can ensure that sensitive data is always protected against any threats.