cloud security

Security and the Cloud

Security and the Cloud 150 150 Kerry Butters

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years surrounding security and the cloud and it was something that delayed initial traction in the market until reasonably recently. However, as more and more businesses have made the transition, it’s clear that faith in cloud services has grown.

Despite a recent Ponemon Institute study, which found that moving to the cloud could triple the cost of a data breach, there’s still plenty of evidence to suggest that the cloud is much safer than many business premises.

45% of Network Attacks Due to Malware

A recent study by NTT Group found that businesses are still not doing enough when it comes to securing the company network. In fact, it was found (somewhat worryingly) that many businesses don’t even have the most basic protection, such as antivirus software and vulnerability scanning, in place.

The research looked into more than three billion attacks that had taken place affecting businesses in 2013. It found that more than half of all the unpatched systems detected had had patches available for two years. This lack of carrying out even the most simple and important tasks can of course significantly increase the risk of attack.

Further to this, it was found that a whopping 78% of those companies that suffered an attack didn’t have any kind of response planning. This means that in the event of an attack, firms would have been completely unprepared and would inevitably lost money.

The Cloud vs the Office Network

Cloud services tend to be based in data centres which have much more robust security than those seen in the study. Not only is data regularly backed up, but it’s also protected by layered security such as hardware firewalls and antivirus solutions. Unlike many of the businesses which the study looked at, good data centres also generally have disaster recovery plans set out and available as documentation for customers.

According to the report, the problem often lies with the board when it comes to network security. It seems that a basic lack of understanding when it comes to just how much an attack can affect the company leads to a shortfall in IT budgets.

For the IT manager, this is obviously something that’s very frustrating. After all, without the budget in place, it’s very unlikely that a manager can do enough to protect the network. However, it should be pointed out that vulnerability scanning and applying patches is not an expensive solution and is something that’s vital to every business.


The report goes on to suggest that companies would be well placed to work with security experts and buy this as a service. This would take the pressure off IT managers and help to mitigate the risk to the business network. There’s no reason that this couldn’t take place in the cloud either, it’s quite usual for external auditors to access the cloud service in order to be able to prepare for an audit.

This could complement the skills of existing staff and that of data centre security to provide an overall complete solution.

Cost of a Breach to Business

Furthermore, it’s really very necessary that companies begin to educate executive staff on the effects of poor security at work. The outcome of a data breach is often a loss of business and of course, impact on profits.

Whilst the board might not understand the need for security, executives are often concerned with any impact a situation might have on profits, so it’s perhaps better to educate based on numbers, rather than IT.

It does seem something of a paradox in the wake of the report that businesses still claim not to trust the security of the cloud and yet have little in the way of basic protection, planning for attack or risk mitigation.

Hosted Desktops and SaaS

The most firmly established cloud offering is also the most popular and security concerns aside, SaaS (software in this case, not security) is providing many businesses with the means to gain more agility. The pay monthly model reduces capital expenditure and if the data, as well as the apps is stored in the cloud, then there’s little doubt that it’s better protected than it would be on many business premises.

Of course, there are many other benefits, not least that services such as hosted desktop allow employees to work remotely. Given that remote working is rising hugely in popularity as the work/play divide becomes narrower and narrower, the pluses certainly seem to outweigh any concerns that a company may have about security.

Image: T-Systems

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Future of Cloud

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Future of Cloud 150 150 Kerry Butters

Whilst cloud computing is nothing new, it is a technology that’s taken a little while to gain real traction in business environments. This was due to a lack of confidence in aspects of cloud models such as security and the assumption in many circles that it was yet another buzzword that the technology sector had dreamt up.

To some extent the issue has also been the huge job that is deployment to the cloud, when thinking about moving entire infrastructures, or even just applications from the traditional onsite network to data centres which power the cloud.

However, over the course of the past couple of years, cloud computing has really begun to take off and it’s safe to say that it’s now becoming a trusted technology. According to the infographic below, courtesy of NerdGraph, by 2016 it’s thought that a huge two-thirds of all workloads will be processed in the cloud.

The stats don’t stop there though, all of the major cloud ‘as a service’ offerings are set for steady growth, with infrastructure seeing the largest at 11% and it’s thought that the use of Hybrid cloud will start to see a bigger increase, with a growth rate of 27% expected to rise to 47%.

Interestingly, it seems that whilst concerns surrounding security are steadily declining, now businesses are beginning to worry about price instead. It’s safe to say that virtualisation offers many cost benefits, so it’s unusual that this should become a top concern. For the most part, cloud services are offered on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis, with no upfront costs and the use of the cloud also cuts down the need for capital expenditure on server and networking equipment.

Whatever the concerns for businesses though, there’s no doubt that the cloud is now taking off properly and many companies are utilising its services in order to cut costs and become more flexible and therefore innovative.

If you’re considering moving to the cloud or even if you just want to know more about it and the benefits it can offer your business, then why not get in touch today for a no obligation chat on how we can help you get the most from the cloud.