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IT Security in the Cloud

Dan earned his CompTIA (CIOS) certification in 2010 and worked in the computer repair/networking industry for several years.

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The advent of high-speed internet and increased computer processing power changed how data is managed. As opposed to buying hardware and software, subscriptions can be purchased for accessing them online. The way has been paved to accommodate for CaaS or cloud-as-a-service — an umbrella term for various internet services.

Businesses whose operations are computer-oriented have much to gain from the paradigm. In general, it’s advantageous to outsource the maintenance and repair of computers and networks, especially if servers are located on-site. Cloud service providers, however, provide both function and maintenance.

There is a wide selection of services obtainable in the cloud. Apps, user management (e.g., domain controllers), operating systems, security, and more. SaaS or security-as-a-service is convenient for those needing assistance with data security or are not inclined to handle it — common where standards are required by law. Here are 3 security services available via cloud service providers.

  1. Data Encryption
  2. Virtual Private Networks
  3. Firewalls

Data Encryption

Keeping backup copies of user files and data is important — especially if they have personal value or are mission-critical for business operations. Privacy also is important in a general sense, and people who backup their files also want them protected from unauthorized eyes. This is where data encryption comes into play.

Cloud service providers offer encryption as a service. Not only can they provide backup, but encryption along with it. Although the encryption of files can be done on the computer of origin (or source), it can occur on the server files are uploaded to. If uncomfortable with the prospect of encrypting files, a computer user may opt for a cloud service to provide it.

Virtual Private Networks

This technology is essentially an added layer of encryption for data propagation over the internet or network. It has become popular in the wake of data privacy concerns in the public. For those with concerns about cybercriminals or unauthorized personnel accessing their data stream, this can work as an added layer of protection.

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Abbreviated VPN, vendors provide the service via their servers. Subscribers connect to the servers which apply encryption protocols. This type of service works better with a high-speed internet connection. Depending on the service provider, the encryption and decryption process can cause noticeable latency. Be mindful when subscribing to an internet service provider plan if VPN usage is necessary.

Firewalls

Many are familiar with a firewall as it pertains to using Microsoft Windows  —  a common operating system with a firewall built-in. The basic function of a firewall is to protect software-based network ports on individual computers from unauthorized access. The ports allow network traffic in and out of digital devices.

Some types of firewalls, however, come with advanced functions  —  aside from protecting ports. Spam filters, content filters, and functions for preventing general malicious traffic are included.

Nobody likes spam, especially when it ends up in our inboxes. E-Mail providers have algorithms in place to redirect spam to a special folder, but cloud firewall services can do a more thorough job.

Some firewall systems can inspect the actual data packets coming into a computer. If it detects inappropriate, unsolicited content — or malicious activity in general  —  it will take action.

Moving Forward

For both the consumer and business owner, there’s much to be gained by using cloud security services. Self-managing IT infrastructure is stressful, even if the involved personnel is competent. Using cloud services in which the management is mostly provided by the vendors takes away much of the workload.

Moreover, since the primary goal of a business is generating revenue, more time can be allocated to it  —  as opposed to fumbling around with the whims of ever-changing IT systems. MSPs or managed service providers can also take away some of the workloads — and in some cases, provide cloud services themselves.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Dan Martino

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