Enable Cloud Computing Security with SSL Certificates Encryption
With the ever-evolving field of Information Technology, the innovative concepts that make our lives simpler never cease to amaze us. Cloud Computing happens to be one of the recent such examples, in spite of being in its infancy period, it has rapidly changed the IT landscape.
Cloud Computing can be simply defined as the technique that allows users to store, share and retrieve data on the Internet instead of a local hard drive. And an increasing number of enterprises and government organizations are adopting it with an aim to increase their efficiency and bring down overall operational costs.
In fact, per the estimation included in the ‘Small Business Success’ report compiled by Emergent Research, cloud computing users are expected to double in the coming few years, rising from the present 37% to almost 80% by 2020. This incredible popularity of Cloud storage is directly proportional to our desire to collect, store and share an enormous amount of digital data In the form of videos, files, images, etc. So much so, that in next three years, the prediction of the total amount spent on cloud services will be around $112 billion, as per the industry analysts at Gartner Research.
However, all the convenience and benefits offered by Cloud Computing come with several potential risks related to data security. Provided the vast medium of Internet involved in this technique, which is accessible to countless users, Cloud Computing Security becomes a very important factor for both users and providers. Cloud service providers need to assure their customers’ data integrity by rendering appropriate encryption. An SSL certificate is traditionally used to secure server-browser interaction, but also proves to be an excellent tool for securing data stored in the cloud as well!
Cloud Computing & Security Threats
As we know, Cloud Computing enables its users to connect with other Internet devices located anywhere in the world and lets you store, share, retrieve and upload files, audios, videos, pictures, etc., along with an easy access to software and databases. The advantages of using Cloud Computing technique are quite apparent, but they are instantly overshadowed by a single security risk, which puts your data integrity in great danger!
Due to the massive amount of data and back-up files stored on the cloud, data security becomes a very important aspect of Cloud Computing. This technology has exhibited a high tendency to expose stored data to several types of security breaches, which cannot be disregarded. Take a look at the most common threats experienced by users of Cloud Computing:
- Malware Attack: Malware attackers are showing great interest towards Cloud Data and are exploring new ways to inject the data with malicious software. If users access an infected data, the malware can easily damage users’ systems and hardware.
- Data Breach: Unencrypted data on the cloud is like an open invitation to all attackers. It becomes easy for them to exploit the loop holes and tamper the stored data.
- Flooding Attack: Attackers flood the cloud service with false requests to increase the size, leaving no space for legitimate requests coming from clients. As a result, the client ends up paying unnecessary charges to the cloud service for such false requests.
- Data Loss: There can’t be anything more shocking than to learn that all your important data stored on an unreliable medium has completely crashed and that there is no way to retrieve it. Major bummer.
- Hacking: Cloud Computing is found to be highly vulnerable towards hacking activities like phishing, data tampering, etc., that are carried out by attackers. Hacked data can be a big blow to users’ integrity and reputation due to leaked or misused data. The recent i-Cloud celebrity photo leak is one such example.
SSL – A Silver Lining for Cloud Computing Security
SSL Security for Cloud Computing has proven to be of great help in several aspects. It is considered as the best security protocol for Cloud users. As we know, an SSL certificate is used to create a safe channel between a web browser and web server for avoiding any type of data tampering in between. Even in the case of cloud computing, an SSL certificate effectively secures data stored or shared by establishing an encrypted session.
The significance of integrating an SSL certificate with Cloud Computing Security can bring forth several advantages, which can ensure the security of customers’ data stored or in-transit on the cloud.
Data Monitoring: Sure, the ability to access data from anywhere sounds pretty awesome, but have you ever wondered about the server location or where exactly the data is stored on the cloud?
However, if an SSL certificate is used to encrypt the stored data by Cloud providers, they can assure the customers that their data is closely monitored, even during the transmission. Also, trusted certificate issuing authorities will avoid issuing an SSL certificate to the servers located in banned countries like Iran, North Korea, etc.
Regulatory Compliance: Any enterprise intending to secure data on the cloud is required to comply with certain rules and regulations that are set by the government and trusted industry authorities like Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act, Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI-DSS), Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA). And before outsourcing and trusting cloud providers with all sensitive data, enterprises must also ensure that the providers seek some compliance with industry standards. Here, SSL encryption helps in avoiding any type of disclosure of private data to third parties trying to intercept or steal it.
Ensure Data Segregation & Encrypted Access: In Cloud Computing, the storage location of all data coming from users across the world, and the respective server location remains unknown to the users. It is controlled by cloud providers. And the shared environment in cloud storage may not guarantee the segregation of that data and the subsequent multi-tenancy. However, using an SSL certificate can easily secure the data on the cloud. The cloud provider needs to ensure this by providing:
- Encryption: Cloud-users should ensure they are being provided the industry-standard levels of encryption, the minimum session encryption strength of 128-bit or the preferable 256-bit encryption.
- Authentication: There should be an authentication of the server’s ownership before the data is transferred. It is advisable to rely on certificates issued by trusted third party CAs as in that case, the servers are already authenticated by them.
- Certificate Validity: An SSL certificate comes with certain validity periods. In case of an unlikely event where the certificate is compromised a fail-safe check needs to be there to make sure the certificate has not been revoked since its issuance. At present, Online Certificates Status Protocol (OCSP) and Certificate Revocation List (CRL) are the two standards popularly used to check the certificate validity.
Securing Back-Up Repositories: Almost all users store their data on the cloud with an intention to retrieve it later when needed. However, if there occurs an unlikely event of the cloud experiencing a total crash for some unforeseen reason, then providers should be able to recover users’ data from their backup repositories. An SSL certificate assures about the legitimacy of the duplicate servers that are used to retrieve the backup and also provides an encrypted channel for its transfer.
An SSL certificate is chosen by many providers for establishing cloud security. Cloud users should also be vigilant while selecting a cloud provider based on the security they furnish. Along with other attributes like space being provided, users should also consider security aspects that are opted by the providers. To avoid security breaches or data loss, cloud providers should use SSL certificates that are issued after undergoing rigorous vetting procedures conducted by trusted authorities and offer encryption strength of 128- to 256-bit for exceptional security.