In 2020, Is the Public Cloud Secure?

In 2020, Is the Public Cloud Secure?

By Otto Aulicino, Director, Information Security
May 26, 2020

For as many years as the public cloud has been around, so has been the debate over whether or not it’s secure.

When AWS launched in 2006 and Azure shortly thereafter in 2008, the public cloud was considered uncharted territory. IT professionals didn’t know whether to trust it or be weary. This was much like in the early 2000s when virtualization technologies became financially possible for smaller organizations, yet many companies chose to stick with physical servers. It was only after years of repeated use and testing did organizations view the technology as safe and worthy of adoption.

We’re seeing a similar trend with the public cloud. As more companies test and adopt the technology, it has matured and established a strong foothold in the market. However, despite the trend towards widespread adoption, some IT professionals continue to approach it with skepticism.

Here are answers to three questions often asked about public cloud security.

1. “When it comes to security, is the public cloud weaker than on-premise implementations?”

This is a large and deeply debated topic. To cut to the chase: No. In our opinion, the public cloud is not weaker than on-premise implementations. Sure, this may have been the case years ago, but today, the public cloud has matured considerably.

The strength of technical and non-technical controls offered by public cloud service providers like Azure, Google Cloud Platform and AWS is significantly higher than most on-premise implementations. Even if you compare the public cloud to large data center providers, the public cloud has more security features implemented lower in the technology stack by default, which are “invisible” to customers (if you consider the shared responsibility model). As a result, customers are required to manage more controls on data center implementations.

2. “In my own data center implementation, I’m in control of security. So, doesn’t that mean I can make it more secure than a public cloud service?”

If you’re in control of your environment in a data center setting, yes, you can theoretically definitely make it more secure than anywhere else. However, seldom do companies do so. In fact, studies show that organizations rarely dedicate enough resources to do even 50% of what the public cloud service providers do in terms of security measures. Additionally, public providers are heavily certified – much more so than most customers or data center providers could ever achieve.

The major security risk of the public cloud lies in the fact that customers often believe once their workloads (or data) are in the cloud, they are secure – which is not true. Customers often forget that security controls are not “out of the box” in the public cloud, and instead are the customer’s responsibility as per the shared responsibility model. If this is not managed properly, it can result in major gaps and vulnerabilities, ready to be exploited by hackers. To put this into context: According to Gartner, by 2025, 99% of the cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.

3. “Is the public cloud attacked more frequently?”

As its name implies, the public cloud is public. So, by its very nature, the public cloud is more exposed. In one sense, as the public cloud becomes home for big brands and companies, one can argue that these big brands are putting a target on the back of their cloud service provider. Yet, on the other hand, as service providers become a target, they’ve also evolved at an impressive pace. The threat of attacks, intrusion attempts and so on has spurred innovation to improve defense controls to the extent that it’s now hard to match the level of experience outside of a public cloud provider.

In conclusion, if you’re considering a move to the cloud and have questions about its security, you’re not alone. Although the cloud has proven to be the best option for many companies, it’s important to understand public cloud’s shared responsibility model and put in place a robust security plan before making the move. With those pieces in place, the cloud can offer a highly secure, resilient – and not to mention cost effective – environment that will benefit you today and over the long term.

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Need help managing your cloud security and operations? Our team of cloud security experts can help. Contact us today to get started.

WatServ demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through proven technology and customer commitment.

About

WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps clients digitally transform their business through cloud technologies and  services. Founded in 2006, WatServ specializes in providing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and hosting complex, high-availability environments for enterprise-level applications. WatServ’s unique approach to planning, migrating and managing multi-cloud environments, plus premium 24x7x365 support, enables its global customers to focus on their core business. Relying on Microsoft and Google’s public clouds, in addition to its own private cloud, the company offers an ideal managed cloud environment engineered for security, reliability and performance. With offices in Canada and the United States, and with 1000’s of users connecting from around the world, WatServ is always on. For more information, please visit www.watserv.com.

WatServ is an affiliate of Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), a public company with majority ownership by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange. More information about BBU is available at www.brookfield.com.

Migrating to the Cloud? Here’s Why You Should Choose a Cloud Solutions Provider that Takes Security Seriously

Migrating to the Cloud? Here’s Why You Should Choose a Cloud Solutions Provider that Takes Security Seriously

By WatServ
November 7, 2019

Is your business considering working with a cloud solutions company to provide cloud consulting, engineering or managed services? If so, you’ll be joining a rapidly expanding market. In fact, Gartner predicts the worldwide public cloud services market to increase by 17% this year, reaching $214.3 billion globally.

Migrating from conventional servers to the cloud can have many benefits for your business, including increased efficiency, scalability, resiliency and affordability. Cloud adoption can mean better flexibility, enhanced disaster recovery and accelerated digital transformation for businesses of all sizes.

However, before you take the plunge and choose a cloud solutions provider to engineer and/or maintain your cloud, it’s critical to ensure they take an important topic seriously: security.

In this article, we’re going to dig into this topic and look at 4 reasons why you should choose a cloud solutions provider that prioritizes your company’s security.

1. The public cloud introduces new security considerations.

As more companies move to the cloud – especially the public cloud – a host of new information security challenges are emerging. In fact, CSO recently put together a list of the top 12 cloud security threats, which include:

  1. Data breaches
  2. Insufficient identity, credential, and access management
  3. Insecure interfaces and APIs
  4. System vulnerabilities
  5. Account hijacking
  6. Malicious insiders
  7. Advanced persistent threats (APTs)
  8. Data loss
  9. Insufficient due diligence
  10. Abuse and nefarious use of cloud services
  11. Denial of service (DoS)
  12. Shared technology vulnerabilities

We’ve heard about many of these threats in the media – and we recently wrote about ransomware attacks on our blog – because these threats affect businesses of all sizes.

For instance, in the first half of 2019 alone, we heard about data breaches increasing by 54% from the previous year. And, with an estimated 3.4 billion phishing emails being sent out daily worldwide, almost all of us can say we’ve been on the receiving end of a phishing email.

Sure, not all of these cyberthreats target the cloud specifically, but with the cloud being accessible online, many of them do.

The takeaway: While security threats are a part of life regardless of where your data is stored, and the cloud introduces several new cybersecurity concerns, a good cloud solutions partner will understand these security threats and take them seriously. Most importantly, they will offer 360 insight on how to mitigate your risk – so your business can stay focused on leveraging the immense power of the cloud to benefit growth.

2. It’s up to the cloud customer (not the cloud service provider) to protect business data.

Did you know that cloud security is a shared responsibility? The best way to illustrate this is to take the example of a condo building. It’s up to the building owner to ensure adequate security is in place to protect the building – like having control over the front door and installing working smoke detectors in hallways and public spaces. However, what you do inside your condo is your own responsibility. If you leave a pot boiling on the stove and forget to replace your smoke detector battery, it’s at your own risk. Likewise, if you let someone into your unit and they steal your jewelry, that’s your mistake.

The same goes for the public cloud. Cloud service providers (like Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform) are responsible for the security of the cloud, but it’s the customers (you)  who are responsible for the security of what gets put into the cloud and how that information gets accessed.

This is an important distinction to remember, since the majority of security failures are a result of a customer not taking appropriate action to protect themselves or monitor for threats.

In fact, Gartner found that “through 2022, at least 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.”

The takeaway: You have a shared security responsibility when using the public cloud, with you holding a good chunk of that responsibility. Rather than face this responsibility alone, a good cloud solutions partner that prioritizes security will help you engineer and maintain your cloud in a way that minimizes your risks and provides continuous threat monitoring, detection and mitigation.

 

3. Security challenges are changing all the time.

When speaking about the latest round of research on cloud security, Gartner’s VP of Research, Jay Heiser, notably said, “CIOs must change their line of questioning from ‘Is the cloud secure?’ to ‘Am I using the cloud securely?’”.

This is a great way to look at it. There have been countless articles written and debates had over the question “is the cloud secure?” and “will I be more at risk if I move to the cloud?”, with customers looking for definitive answers. The truth is, the cloud, like anything else, will always be vulnerable to a mix of changing threats.

For instance, we’ve recently been hearing more about the threat of container software vulnerabilitiescryptographic exploits and meltdown or spectre as cybercrime becomes increasingly complex and sophisticated. Plus, internal threats will always remain a concern. The truth is, threats will never go away, so how you approach and handle them is what matters.

The takeaway: A cloud solutions partner that takes cloud security seriously can help you navigate these threats as they change from month to month and year to year. Threats will never go away, so adopting a mindset of “am I using the cloud securely?” will help you engage effectively with a partner that’s focused on adaptive risk assessment and mitigation.

4. There are steps that can be taken to mitigate risk.

Just as threats change monthly, so do technologies, tools and procedures designed to mitigate risk. A knowledgeable and up-to-date cloud partner can help you identify and navigate your vulnerabilities, so you can make an educated decision about your cloud strategy.

Some of the solutions that can be put in place may include:

  • Engineering your cloud environment using security best practices
  • Implementing or maturing security operations centers (SOCs)
  • Strengthen your existing security and governance procedures
  • Providing advanced threat detection and automated threat mitigation
  • Setting up continuous security monitoring
  • Ensuring good API hygiene
  • Providing managed endpoint protection and DDoS protection
  • Offering training to employees on threats like phishing and account hijacking
  • Looking at ‘passwordless’ methods of access management
  • Setting up procedures to review security analytics
  • Responding to incidents quickly and effectively

The cloud offers a huge range of benefits for businesses large and small. With almost 50% of data worldwide expected to be stored in public cloud environments by 2025, the cloud has shaped the world of computing in a whole new way.

By working with a security-focused cloud solutions provider, you can put your energy into leveraging the incredible power of the cloud – while also making informed decisions about risk and enabling adaptive approaches to risk mitigation.

 

Need help protecting your cloud? WatServ is a security-focused cloud solutions provider that helps companies safeguard their cloud through CloudOps advanced managed services. Speak with one of WatServ team members today to learn more.

WatServ demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through proven technology and customer commitment.​

About

WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps clients digitally transform their business through cloud technologies and  services. Founded in 2006, WatServ specializes in providing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and hosting complex, high-availability environments for enterprise-level applications. WatServ’s unique approach to planning, migrating and managing multi-cloud environments, plus premium 24x7x365 support, enables its global customers to focus on their core business. Relying on Microsoft and Google’s public clouds, in addition to its own private cloud, the company offers an ideal managed cloud environment engineered for security, reliability and performance. With offices in Canada and the United States, and with more than 10,000 users connecting from 30+ countries, WatServ is always on. For more information, please visit www.watserv.com.

WatServ is an affiliate of Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), a public company with majority ownership by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange. More information about BBU is available at www.brookfield.com.

WatServ Unveils Brookfield Partnership

WatServ Unveils Brookfield Partnership

By WatServ
December 1, 2015
WatServ is pleased to announce that the company is now backed by the private equity arm of Brookfield Asset Management, a leading global alternative asset manager. With Brookfield’s support, WatServ will continue to expand its business as one of the largest, most experienced providers of Managed Cloud Computing solutions for Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM applications on both Microsoft Azure and WatServ Private Cloud. The WatServ name and management team will remain the same, as does our commitment to be best-in-class suppliers of hosted Microsoft Dynamics AX, hosted Dynamics NAV, hosted Dynamics GP, hosted Dynamics CRM. In addition to the existing ongoing expansion of service offerings for Managed Azure, Office 365, and CRM Online, the Brookfield Partnership provides WatServ with the resources to grow its business at a significantly accelerated pace, and, more importantly, with the guidance of an organization with an enviable record of investment success.

WatServ is based in Waterloo, Ontario, with U.S. offices in Southfield, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and a U.K. office in Reading.

Brookfield is based in Toronto and is a global alternative asset manager with approximately $225 billion in assets under management. The company has more than a 100-year history of owning and operating assets with a focus on property, renewable energy, infrastructure and private equity. Brookfield offers a range of public and private investment products and services, and is co-listed on the New York, Toronto and Euronext stock exchanges.

WatServ demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through proven technology and customer commitment.​

About

WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps clients digitally transform their business through cloud technologies and  services. Founded in 2006, WatServ specializes in providing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and hosting complex, high-availability environments for enterprise-level applications. WatServ’s unique approach to planning, migrating and managing multi-cloud environments, plus premium 24x7x365 support, enables its global customers to focus on their core business. Relying on Microsoft and Google’s public clouds, in addition to its own private cloud, the company offers an ideal managed cloud environment engineered for security, reliability and performance. With offices in Canada and the United States, and with more than 10,000 users connecting from 30+ countries, WatServ is always on. For more information, please visit www.watserv.com.

WatServ is an affiliate of Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), a public company with majority ownership by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange. More information about BBU is available at www.brookfield.com.