The internet is a valuable resource, but risks are everywhere. From viruses to targeted attacks by hackers, there are significant vulnerabilities across virtually all platforms and functions of which users need to be aware. For those who choose cloud computing, understanding the security threats, both to application availability and the protection of private data, can be a significant part of making an educated choice.
A poor approach to cyber security can put an entire business at risk, and failing to keep eyes open to potential problems is a poor way to approach online transactions. This is what you need to know about the role cyber security should play in cloud computing as well as your entire approach to technological resources.
Cyber Security Defined
Cyber security refers to the protection of computer systems from any number of threats, from hackers to service interruptions. In today’s world, cyber security is of the utmost importance, keeping personal data protected and businesses moving forward. There are many different ways to keep websites and databases safe, from security architecture to the use of protection software. These techniques can vary greatly from one company to another, with many brands choosing a customized approach to best protect their business and customer information.
Cyber security is used to defend against a wide variety of attacks, including trojan horses, bots, ransomware, malware, phishing, and hackers. Each of these threats can be devastating, making adequate security essential.
The Importance of Awareness
Some companies, especially those new or small, don’t spend much time thinking about cyber security. While the protection of information is always important, in the beginning, many new business owners are too preoccupied with other expenses to invest significantly in cyber security. However, ignoring proper defenses early in operations can create significant and long-lasting vulnerabilities. As such, staying aware of why cyber security is deeply important.
Hacking and cyber attacks are everywhere, and anyone can be affected. Take, for example, the Equifax data breach that resulted in over 147 million people’s information being put at risk. Equifax – one of the three primary credit reporting bureaus in the United States – is a large company with a sophisticated take on cyber security. In spite of this, a data breaches still occurred, creating a large scale issue. With the memory of these kinds of major incidents, it is paramount that companies see these experiences as education and motivation to enhance their own cyber security programs.
What Are Common Cyber Security Risks?
Cyber security concerns come in many shapes and sizes, from malicious software to identity theft. This makes it extremely important for companies to take a comprehensive approach to protection. Without a holistic perspective on overall data protection, companies will leave themselves open to attack. These are the most common cyber threats.
Hackers are human threats. These individuals have the skills to break through security in order to access confidential data, breach networks, and otherwise compromise information. Hackers may or may not use other tools, like malware, to coordinate an attack.
Malware is a portmanteau of “malicious software,” or any program that threatens to do harm to a computer or computer network. Malware is often used a general and all-encompassing term to describe all kinds of security threats, including spyware, worms, trojans, and other forms of attack.
A trojan, or a trojan horse, is a form of malware that is disguised as a legitimate software application. Users are tricked, either willingly or unwillingly, to install these programs onto their machines, creating a backdoor way to breach a system. This provides a way to steal sensitive data. Numerous forms of trojans exist, and each option provides distinct risks.
Ransomware is a form of malware that essentially holds a computer system hostage until a ransom amount is paid. Ransomware is like other forms of malware and is generally downloaded from phishing emails or dangerous third party sites.
A bot is an automated form of malware attack. Malicious code create bots that are designed to infect a computer or network and then connect back to a server to create a network of compromised computers or systems known as a botnet. From here, attackers can launch an attack that is flood-like in nature to cause maximum damage across as many systems as possible.
Phishing is an email scam in which individuals receive emails from seemingly trustworthy companies or individuals but are really fake impersonations designed to harm. These emails generally contain attachments that will then install malware of some kind on the host computer.
DDoS attacks, or distributed denial-of-service attacks, are a form of attack intended to disrupt traffic to a server, essentially shutting down websites and other forms of company operations. This is usually done by sending high levels of traffic to a website in order to overload servers. In many ways, DDoS attacks are like forced traffic jams: when false traffic is targeted to a website, legitimate visitors can’t break through the barrier. DDoS attacks usually begin with malware and are carried out by a botnet.
DDoS attacks are particularly harmful to cloud computing networks as these resources are server-driven and are frequently the target of attacks. Those who use cloud servers are encouraged to focus heavily on security and protection, regardless of cloud choice.
These attacks can be extremely problematic, creating issues for both companies and their customers. All companies, regardless of size or scale, should be aware of these threats and actively work to avoid challenges.
How Cyber Security Management Makes a Difference
Cyber security isn’t an optional part of operating a company that stores information online. Instead, it’s an obligation. Cyber security has many benefits to companies and their customers.
- Preservation of reputation. Customers don’t like to do business with companies that can’t be trusted, and a major breach can be extremely damaging. Most large scale security issues, like the Equifax breach and Target’s challenges, as well-know and thus have a great impact on reputation.
Minimization of financial consequences. A hack can compromise all kinds of information, including company banking details. Further, a ruined reputation due to insufficient protections can also result in a loss of revenue.
- Reduced customer relationship interruptions. A significant DDoS or ransomware attack, for example, has the ability to cripple your company, taking you offline or blocking access to your programs and databases. Without adequate security, or a sufficient approach to remedying a hack, businesses can go dark for days or even weeks, diminishing your presence and ability to make transactions with customers.
- Improved investor confidences. Sooner or later, most employers will need outside financing, whether in the form of business loans or investors. A serious breach of privacy can be a serious detriment in inspiring confidence in lenders or investors, and seeking financing may be nearly impossible after suffering an attack.
- Protects productivity. When all of your systems are on line and working properly, employees can handle duties as normal. However, in the midst of a cyber attack, business can’t go on as usual. This can make everything from bank transactions to regular financial projections impossible.
- Elimination of insurance usage. Many companies have business interruption insurance, but no one wants to actually use it. However, in the case of an attack, falling back on these plans may be essential. And, unfortunately, a cyber attack is one that could be prevented. Using these plans can drive up costs, forcing higher monthly premiums for an avoidable incident.
All of these advantages make big differences in the course of business, changing circumstances for the better for both companies and their customers.
Cyber Security and Compliance
Keeping information safe is important on a basal level for companies to successfully meet customer expectations, but in some industries, it is more important than in others. Industries subject to significant oversight, like medical providers and financial firms, should be even more concerned about their cyber security program, as a breach could mean a loss of customer or patient trust as well as fees and fines.
Hospitals, for example, are subject to HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that guarantees the safety of confidential medical information. Failing to adhere to HIPAA rules and regulations can lead to fines of thousands to even millions of dollars and possible time in prison. A cyber attack on patient information would very clearly violate HIPAA, putting everyone at risk. Financial firms also have a responsibility to protect confidential information, as well as military and government organizations concerned with national security breaches, like the Department of Homeland Security.
In many industries, malware or hackers can do significant damage. Companies that do not keep up with the latest in protections put themselves at a serious disadvantage.
Security Operations and Analytics Platform Architecture
Also known as SOAPA, security operations and analytics platform architecture is an alternative to standard security information and event management that utilizes a multi-faceted approach to cover as many bases as possible. While there isn’t exactly one clear-cut way to deploy this structure, SOAPA generally includes API integration to cover as many bases as possible.
- Despite the lack of universal definition, all SOAPA architecture does contain several similar functions, including:
- The amalgamation of data from a variety of different sources
- Collaboration of various forms of technology across a single platform to generate security data that is machine readable and easy to analyze
This concept is supported using middleware, or software that services applications beyond the capabilities of an operating system. In order to accomplish security goals, SOAPA makes use of several industry standards to control and connect data, including CyBOX, TAXII, and STIX. While the principles behind SOAPA are still evolving, many companies concerned with actionable security measures are moving in this direction.
Zero Trust Architecture
Zero trust architecture is another technology option for companies that wish to prioritize security. Using this strategy, trust is seen as a vulnerability in all settings, including within an enterprise. To accommodate this, network security measures are established to allow access to databases and file storage only to those who need it – not all members of an organization. This results in network traffic that is highly segmented as users are restricted only to the applications required to fulfill job functions.
Zero trust architecture can be implemented around and in conjunction with existing systems, creating an additional layer of security that works from the inside out. Zero trust can stand alone – although this is generally not recommended – but is best used as internal protection while other measures protect from outside attacks.
Web filtering is a common practice inside companies that can protect against both potentially dangerous websites and prevent against a lack of productivity. Similar to parental blocks that safeguard children from the dangers of the internet, web filters maintain an extra layer of security in a modern workplace.
Web filtering is primarily utilized to prevent against cyberloafing, a slang term for employees surfing non-work-related sites rather than staying productive. However, its cyber security capabilities go beyond this. As a way to stop access to insecure sites, unapproved software downloads, and phishing attempts that could potentially infiltrate a company’s other defenses. While seemingly primitive, web filtering can be an important part of a cohesive approach to security.
Finding a Cyber Security Service Provider
Large companies may manage much of their own cyber security, but partnering with a third party provider is often the best way to ensure all data, regardless of what it is or where it is stored. As experts, these cyber security professionals understand how attacks work and what new and innovative methods hackers are taking to take advantage of vulnerabilities.
Some companies choose to hire a third party to work around their existing critical infrastructure, but this can be a damaging challenge. Trying to construct a security protocol around something pre-existing leaves plenty of room for vulnerabilities, making attacks more likely rather than holding them at bay. Instead, constructing an approach to security within a company’s overall network is often the most successful. Those transitioning to the cloud can benefit from a comprehensive security strategy that is constructed within a company’s platform deployment rather than around it.
As many considering cloud computing know, private clouds are often the most affordable and the best for security. By choosing a hosted cloud provider involved in sophisticated security measures, it’s possible to create a comprehensive and aggressive plan to keep information as safe and secure as possible.
Managed Security from Avatara
Security doesn’t have to be a separate entity from the rest of your operations. Avatara’s CompleteCloud solution is a comprehensive way to manage everything, from your cloud storage to risk management, in one place. Offering a sophisticated approach to protecting data as well as maintaining robust protective policies in order to safeguard files, data, and applications, one flat fee per user can ensure the best possible approach to cyber security.
Rather than public clouds, in which security is provided by the cloud provider with little input by users, using a one-stop solution like CompleteCloud puts the control where it belongs: with clients. By collaborating with Avatara, it’s possible to create a solution, including a thorough incident response plan, that meets everyone’s needs while still ensuring complete control. As a part of CompleteCloud, users can take advantage of protection against malware like ransomware and trojans, bots, hackers, phishing, and other forms of attack, providing a bulletproof barrier against the worst the web has to offer. With a focus on compliance, those operating under HIPAA, DARPA, or even SEC oversight can operate with confidence.
If you have been considering a move to cloud computing, Avatara’s CompleteCloud solution is the ideal resource for companies of all sizes. Contact us today to learn more about how comprehensive private cloud computing can protect you and your business.