What are the Security Risks of Cloud Computing?

Businesses and governments are shifting more and more workloads to the cloud. However, some organizations remain resistant to the cloud's considerable attractions due to lingering concerns about data security in cloud computing.

The main security risks of cloud computing are:

  • Compliance violations
  • Identity theft
  • Malware infections and data breaches
  • Diminished customer trust and potential revenue loss

While the concern is understandable, today's reality is that—when implemented correctly—cloud computing security is just as reliable as traditional on-premise IT.

How secure is cloud computing?

To fully understand cloud computing security, firstly we need to ask, what does cloud mean? By the usual cloud computing definition, cloud providers make IT resources and applications available as a metered service that users can consume through the internet. 

Cloud services are typically classified into Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) such as raw computing power or cloud storage. A good cloud security provider will offer a scalable solution that detects threats before they reach the data center, helping to allay the following security concerns:

  1. Loss of data

By its very nature, cloud computing involves some ceding of control from the customer to the service provider. While this leaves users more time and financial resources to focus on other facets of the business, there is always the risk that sensitive data is in somebody else’s hands. If the security of a cloud service is breached, hackers could potentially gain access to intellectual property or other personal files.

  1. Malware infections

Due to the high volume of data stored on the cloud, which requires an internet connection to store this data, anybody using cloud services is potentially at risk of cyberattacks. An increasingly common threat is Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, whereby hackers send unprecedented volumes of traffic to a web-based application, thereby crashing the servers.

  1. Legal/compliance issues

With increasing legislation on data protection, from GDPR in Europe to HIPAA for healthcare, staying compliant is becoming more difficult. Companies must have steadfast rules governing who can access what data and what they can do with it. With cloud computing’s easy access to data on a large scale, it can be difficult to keep track of who can access this information.

What is data security in cloud computing?

In spite of these concerns, there are myriad security measures in cloud computing that even surpass the standards of traditional IT. The security advantages of cloud computing come down to two basic factors: economies of scale and division of labor.

Economies of scale

With cloud services, enterprises can spread the cost of data security for large volumes of customers across multiple cloud data centers. This means that they can allocate more human and financial resources to security measures, including physical, technical and operational security. This increased resource often surpasses that of many corporations or even government agencies. Data can also be replicated across many different data centers, helping to reduce the risk of loss.

Division of labor

As above, enterprises can allocate more resources across the business to security when using cloud services. However, they can also rely on cloud providers to focus solely on delivering IT services. A managed cloud provider brings in a new level of expertise to the data security operation that cannot be matched by traditional, non-cloud-based solutions.

How Akamai helps safeguard data security in cloud computing

The concerns surrounding the what could be called the "fourth tier" of cloud architecture: the public internet, through which cloud services are delivered to end users, are totally valid. That’s why Akamai has spent years researching and perfecting its technology, learning how to provide security in cloud computing.

From providing scalable solutions to staying on top of the latest web security threats, Akamai’s managed cloud services provide a secure solution that safeguards resources and data.

Akamai operates the world's largest web content distribution network (CDN), spanning more than 160,000 servers in over 95 countries and delivering up to 30% of global Internet traffic. Along with enabling our service provider customers and enterprise customers to deliver web content and applications to end users faster and more reliably, Akamai offers a suite of security solutions embedded within our market-leading CDN. Akamai Cloud Security Solutions provide protection against leading cyber security threats like DDoS attacks, SQL injection, and cross-site scripting, as well as more obscure internet-based attack modalities.

Akamai's security solutions are massively scalable and provide a globally distributed forward defense that detects and thwarts attacks before they reach your data center. We offer solutions tailored to cloud service providers as well as solutions for enterprises that are running applications in public clouds or operating their own private cloud.

Learn more about how Akamai helps safeguard data security in cloud computing.