Cloud computing is revolutionary in every measure of the way and it has completely changed how computing is done and how services and handled.

We should never have a doubt as to the benefits of cloud computing but that also does not mean we should not be aware of the risks of cloud computing.

This is because there are a few serious risks associated with cloud computing that every person needs to be aware of.

You do not have to be a business owner and you do not have to be a software developer to understand these risks because you can be anyone and be informed of cloud computing.

You might be someone who works in the bank and your client database might be stored in the cloud.  You might even be a school teacher and you give out notes to your students by uploading them on the cloud and sharing the link.

We might or might not know it but we all are influenced by the cloud and that is why it is very important to understand the security risks of cloud computing and cloud in general.

But before we do that, we need to understand what is cloud computing.

So, What Is Cloud Computing?

Cloud Computing

The simplest way to understand cloud computing is to simply think about computing and data storage as well as IT services as it is but with a little twist.

Cloud computing is basically when you need data storage and when you need computing and processing capabilities and you need every kind of assistance that a computer can give you but remotely.

This means that instead of storing the data physically in a location near you, you store that data on the cloud which simply means somewhere else and you access it with the help of the internet.

It also means that you do computing and take advantage of the processing power of a computer that is not situated physically near you but somewhere else in a different location and you access that computing and processing power through the internet.

That is why if you want the simplest definition of cloud computing then it would simply be accessing computing capabilities remotely through the internet from a server or computer based somewhere else.

This might sound remarkable to you but it might also sound like alarm bells for you because of things like data privacy concerns in cloud computing.

We will talk more about that but let us know understand the different types of cloud computing.

Here Are the Different Types and Aspects of Cloud Computing

Types of Cloud Computing

Software as a service (SaaS)

This is one of the most widely used cloud computing services out there.

It is when software and its architecture are stored on the cloud and can be accessed by the user without them having to install the software or maintain it locally.

You can think of this as popular software services such as Gmail and Slack as well as Salesforce and other CRM software solutions.

You simply have to access them from the internet with the help of a browser or an app. This might also help you understand the inherent security issues in cloud computing

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

IaaS is not really a software service but rather the infrastructure that can help you run a software service which means it is cloud computing in terms of storage and virtual machines as well as networking infrastructure.

This is when you get to have control over the applications and the systems that you want to run and the programs and services that you want to operate. It is just that the underlying infrastructure and hardware are based in the cloud.

You can think of services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud as well as Microsoft Azure and Rackspace. Of course, they are not immune to cloud computing threats.

Platform as a service (PaaS)

And last but not the least is going to be PaaS. This is where the platform is the service because it allows developers to create applications and run applications without thinking about the infrastructure.

These kinds of platforms are often known as development environments that allow developers to utilise tools and middleware functionality to create their own apps.

These can be in the form of databases as well as web servers and also include things like operating systems and programming language environments.

Thus the concern of cloud computing security should never be far behind when it comes to PaaS.

These platforms simply act as a petri dish favourable for development and include names like Heroku, Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure App Service.

These are excellent in theory, specially when it comes to a quick MVP deployment but they also come with the regular cloud service provider vulnerabilities and that is something that developers should never forget.

Before we talk about the risks of cloud computing, it is also very important that we understand the benefits of cloud computing so that we can use our own judgment to determine whether to use cloud computing.

These Are the Benefits of Cloud Computing

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Good For the Budget

One of the most important reasons why people choose cloud computing over creating their own infrastructure is simply because creating something from scratch is going to cost a lot more.

It simply does not make sense to create your own server and pay a huge amount upfront and create multiple servers in different physical locations for redundancy and also create huge computing data centres.

Forget making sense, it is simply impossible for smaller companies because why would they spend nearly three times their capital into creating systems like this when they can get all that and much more for a fraction of the cost?

We are not even going to factor in things like server employees, electricity bills and location rent because if you just factor in the cost of the hardware, it will seem illogical to spend that much.

Cloud computing has made things simple and accessible to everyone because no one has onsite systems nowadays unless you are Google, Amazon, a bank or the government.

Great For Mobility

The thing about cloud systems is that you simply cannot ignore the cloud systems completely even if you have your own systems and infrastructure and you want remote access and mobility.

This is because you are ultimately going to need some kind of cloud arrangement or infrastructure even if you want to access your onsite systems remotely from another location.

This might also be an issue for collaboration purposes.

So, why go through the hassle and take on the additional headache of onsite systems when you can have the whole thing on the cloud from some of the most reputed cloud service providers?

That is exactly why companies choose the cloud when it comes to mobility because, with cloud solutions, they can access the very best chunks of storage and computing capabilities from any part of the earth that has a stable internet connection.

Data Redundancy and Recovery

If you have a rudimentary experience in networking then you are going to appreciate this point even more because we are going to talk about redundancy and data recovery.

The greatest advantage of cloud storage and computing solutions is that it is much safer and more practical than having storage servers onsite.

This is because it might be very difficult or nearly impossible for you to maintain and replicate your servers in multiple geographical locations.

This is usually done so that there is always a recoverable backup available even if your primary server gets damaged by things like natural calamities.

But doing that on an international scale is simply impossible for a smaller company because they might just be able to afford a simple NAS setup that is not even truly redundant as it is situated in a single geographical location.

Now compare that situation to something like Google Cloud or AWS. They have hundreds of servers situated throughout planet Earth. They offer an ungodly level of redundancy when it comes to data security and recovery.

It is nearly impossible for your data to get lost with their servers unless someone does it manually.

Easier Payment Options

One of the other factors is going to be payment options and the type of payment or investment that is needed if you want to have the same functionality that cloud service providers provide.

If you want to have the same level of functionality that AWS or Microsoft Azure provides in terms of processing power and storage, you will need to make the investment upfront.

This means buying the server racks, hard drives, processors (probably a couple of Threadrippers), fire safety systems, IT guys that keep the servers running and much more.

In order to do all that, you are going to need to pay directly and while you can get a loan but you are still going to be in debt.

Now think about having to pay something like $20 a month for the same level of processing power and storage but from the best cloud services provider on earth and getting access to their vast infrastructure that might even contain a few supercomputers.

It is not even a fair comparison when it comes to the logic of investment.

Great For Networking and Collaboration

In the argument for the benefits of cloud, this point is quite underrated compared to other points like increased mobility or money-saving points.

But if you think about it then this is one of the most important reasons why cloud has become so popular.

It just has to do with the fact that everyone uses the cloud. Your clients use cloud services and your partners use cloud services.

This means you have to use the cloud if you want to collaborate with other people in the IT industry simply because they also use the same platform and they also develop in the same development environment.

This means it is much easier to go into partnerships, collaborate on projects and share them with your clients who also understand and are accustomed to cloud platforms.

It is just like using a single currency for trade because cloud platforms standardise development.

Let Us Look at The Risks of Cloud Computing

Risks of Cloud Computing

Data Breaches and Mass Data Leaks

One of the most terrible issues that plague cloud computing is simply data leaks because if you Google the largest data leaks then you will find that it is something common. Data leaks happen a lot.

This is completely man-made and it is done when malware are designed to completely penetrate cloud networks and it can even attack your own network.

This can happen no matter how strong the encryption is because hackers and their systems can find out the weakest link in the chain and it might just be your network switch or even your router.

The reason why cloud computing is not watertight is simply because most people who utilise cloud computing and not cloud architects or data experts.

They simply do not know the protocols to keep their data safe and secure.

Limited Transparency and Visibility

In order to understand this we have to look at it from a different perspective. For this example, you need to think of yourself as the government.

As the government you need a lot of data storage and you need to access that data quickly but you simply cannot choose any kind of cloud service no matter how good it is.

This is because you do not know what happens behind the back systems because the data companies can simply have access to that data even if they tell you it is encrypted.

This is the biggest risk of cloud computing because you can never be 100% sure that you can have data privacy. Things can become even more dangerous if your data is very sensitive and contains the sensitive information of your clients.

This is also an issue if you want to change platforms because when you ask them to delete all your data, there is no definite way to be sure that it has been done.

Impersonation And Identity Theft

Now imagine a scenario where your systems are completely encrypted and you have also hired data security experts so that your end of cloud computing is secure from hackers.

You can also be sure that the cloud service provider has very strong encrypted systems that prevent malware and stuff like that.

However, you are still not secure because now that data attacks are not going to be hacking attacks, they will be impersonation.

The people who want to hack into your data do not have to try out hacking the system in order to get into your data because they simply have to impersonate you and get access to that data.

This is known as a phishing attack and one of the most favourable ways it is done is with cloud environments.

You can think of everything from Google Drive to G-Suite and much more. This is done when the attacker pretends to be one of the employees asking for access and this is how they get access to cloud credentials and get into the data.

Compatibility And Bad Integration

If you have always been using the cloud then you do not into worry about this because your systems are accustomed to cloud computing and you have designed them accordingly.

But if you come from a legacy non-cloud setup and system then you might have a lot of compatibility issues in merging with the cloud.

You might have bad integration and you might not even get the correct APIs that will let you get the best kind of control.

That is why if you come from a traditional setting without a lot of experience and manpower dedicated to cloud computing then you might have some problem integrating.

Loss Of Data

Data loss in theory is impossible because of redundancy but data loss is not really that impossible. This is because cloud providers can stop natural calamities but they cannot stop cyber attacks.

The thing about cyber attacks is that they take down entire networks which means if something like the encryption key is lost in the process then the data is technically lost because you have no way to recover that data.

There are backups in place but hackers always seem like they are one step ahead of the game when it comes to data threats.

Data Sovereignty and Accountability

Data sovereignty is a real issue and it is not something that only Governments and highly sensitive businesses should think about.

If you are a regular business and you still have client data in the simplest forms like email IDs and passwords then again you should think about data sovereignty.

This is because you might know the company and it might even guarantee you the best privacy policies but you have no control over where they store their data.

Different countries and different unions of countries have different regulations and sometimes these regulations might be very strict and other times they might not even be strict at all regarding data storage.

Sometimes if the cloud provider company needs to do data storage in a particular country then they might even need to give the country’s government some kind of access to the data.

It is completely out of your control.

Data Accidents

No system is perfect and that is also the case when it comes to cloud computing because data accidents are a real thing and they can definitely happen when it comes to cloud computing.

If you remember what we were telling you about the weakest link, the weakest link is usually the human link when it comes to any perfect system.

Sometimes cheaper cloud providers do not factor in that because human error can result in data loss. Sometimes this happens just because of different privacy and data laws that simply get stuck in bureaucracy.

This means there is no level of accountability because data regulations might not be strong in your country and that prevents cloud providers from taking strict action to prevent accidental data exposure.

If you factor in all these challenges then data accidents can be a reality.

Cloud Security Best Practices to Follow Always

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)

Your cloud setup can have several problems and misconfigurations as well as bugs that can cause problems and even lead to data leaks.

Imagine a system that is designed to specifically monitor and actively seek out these problems with your workloads and applications.

That is exactly what a Cloud Security Posture Management System (CSPM) does. It is a mouthful and it is actually something that is still not in the mainstream but it can be a godsend for your system.

Advanced versions of CSPMs can fix the issue for you automatically.

Securing Endpoints

We would like to bring your attention to the weakest link in the chain once again because if your company uses cloud services then all your employees are probably not cloud architects or engineers.

That means most of your employees might not have a good understanding of cloud security and they might access cloud services, whether it is SaaS or even PaaS, from their web browser.

That is why it is important to raise awareness about the issue and then make sure they utilise secure browsers and secure endpoints to access the cloud.

The best option would be to have a proprietary solution but we understand that might not be possible for smaller companies but then again, we are here to help you and you can learn more about it at the end.

Avoid Storing Unnecessary Data

There is a popular saying that a poor man does not worry about theft and that is exactly the case when it comes to cloud data storage.

If you do not have a lot of data on the cloud then you do not have to worry about a lot of data issues as well.

Some companies make the mistake of heavily utilising cloud storage and cloud service solutions for the smallest and the biggest tasks as well as data storage.

You do not really have to do that unless it is very important for collaboration purposes as well as to help your working efficiency.

If you avoid storing a lot of data then you can also avoid data loss.

Keep Data Backups

And finally, this is something that every company should do right now and it is to clone their cloud storage and create a physical backup in their physical premises.

This is going to be the best kind of backup you can have. For added reliability, you can even avoid accessing this physical backup and just maintain it from time to time so that the data packets stay in the best health possible.

This is going to provide you with an additional layer of redundancy that you can actually control so that you can always be safe and know that in the case of the largest data outrage as well, you are still going to have a backup

We hope this blog helps to understand the risks of cloud computing and one of the biggest risks in cloud computing is human error because of a lack of knowledge or experience.

That is why if you plan on implementing cloud solutions for your company operations, you need a reliable partner and IT Solutions company that understands the cloud and has been providing cloud solutions from day one.

That is exactly who we are because we are Think To Share IT Solutions and we are among the pioneers to bring cloud to the mainstream in India.

We provide some of the finest AWS solutions whether it is cloud storage or cloud integration as well as cloud migration and cloud computing.

We will help you sort out all your issues with the cloud and help you get rid of all vulnerabilities in your cloud setup. We will help you implement security protocols and even design proprietary control solutions for you.

We welcome you to visit our website and check out everything we do not just in the cloud but every other kind of IT service you can think of.