Security / hacking

Guide: Cloud security for small business owners

As modern businesses keep getting more complex than ever, there is an increased need for simpler, flexible solutions to access and manage data. Enter cloud computing, which can be a real game changer, particularly for small to mid-size businesses.

Cloud has redefined the way businesses function with a host of benefits like increased flexibility, greater integration, efficient collaboration, scalability, and more. To top it all, cloud computing comes at a significantly low cost as compared to hiring trained personnel in-house. For a small business that is already struggling to sustain itself, cloud computing is definitely the way to go!

While cloud computing has numerous benefits, identity management, privacy, and access control are major concerns due to the cloud’s nature as a shared resource. However, this shouldn’t stop you from considering migrating to the cloud. That’s because service providers have ample security measures in place to prevent breaches. What’s more, it’s in their interest to protect their clients’ data!

If you’re in two minds about making the switch to cloud, this guide tells you all you need to know about cloud security.

What is cloud security?

Cloud security or cloud computing security is a broad set of technologies, policies and controls that helps protect information and applications, and cloud-associated infrastructure. In simple terms, cloud security protects data stored online from theft, deletion, and leakage.

Security is a primary concern for cloud storage providers because it’s not enough for them to just meet customer satisfaction. When it comes to storing sensitive data such as medical and health information, and credit card numbers, storage providers also need to follow certain regulatory requirements.

Moreover, regulations and privacy measures vary from country to country. Data stored on a cloud that is hosted abroad can be subject to different rules; sometimes, it may even be illegal to store data abroad.

How does it work?

Security management addresses issues with security controls to safeguard weaknesses and mitigate the effects of attacks. Security controls fall under one of the following categories:

  • Deterrent Controls – These act like a warning sign on a fence by informing potential attackers of adverse consequences should they choose to proceed.
  • Preventive Controls – Strong authentication helps identify cloud users positively and makes it difficult for unauthorized individuals to access confidential information.
  • Corrective Controls – These come into effect during or after incidents, reducing consequences by limiting damage.
  • Detective Controls – These detect incidents and signal the preventive or corrective controls to take appropriate action.

Further to this, assets can be secured in the cloud only with the combined security efforts of the storage provider and the customer. Cloud storage providers ensure physical security of IT hardware, mask or encrypt critical data, and protect digital identities and credentials from unauthorized users.

Providers also integrate their customers’ identity management systems into their own infrastructure or provide customers with a new system. It’s typical for both providers and customers to screen potential employees and carry out security awareness and training programs regularly.

What are the risks?

The myths surrounding cloud security are drearier than the actual risks. In truth, cloud storage and cloud security are looked at suspiciously, primarily due to the fact that the approach involves storing data on servers and systems that are owned and controlled by a third party.

Cloud storage providers know that the the greatest form of defence comes from enforcing strict access rights, strong governance, and diligent data monitoring. Coupled with these measures, cloud computing providers or managed services providers also offer proactive maintenance and 24/7 support to organizations, thus minimizing all sorts of risks.

What are the advantages?

Employing or partnering with a reputable cloud computing security provider can benefit your business in several ways as discussed here:

  • Lower upfront and ongoing costs as you don’t have to build and manage your own data centre.
  • New technology can be deployed effectively in less time.
  • Prevent data breaches with strong encryption; this also ensures that the public cloud database is designed and configured to deter hackers.
  • Prevent hackers from stealing credentials, eavesdropping on out transactions, manipulating data and returning falsified information.
  • Prevent data loss with regularly updated offline data backups.
  • Detect Denial of Service (DoS) threats and prevent outages by providing effective responses round the clock.
  • Reduce malicious threats by withholding cloud network access to former employees, contractors and business partners.
  • Help users identify and improve weak APIs, thereby maintaining the availability and security of the cloud service.
  • Prevent legal issues and contractual problems with complete transparency and a thorough understanding of how your provider works.
  • Reduce impact on shared resources like RAMs, CPUs, hard drives, and caches with solid isolation properties for SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.


Technological advancements always come with a trade-off. Whether you adopt new technologies at the cost of more money, additional time spent on training, or dealing with security risks, something good might eventually come out of it!

In the case of cloud computing, security risks aren’t any greater than traditional approaches. In fact, the cloud is safer as you don’t have to worry about damages and loss due to natural disasters! On the plus side, taking the right cloud security measures directly means minimized risks.

Photograph by Pixelcreatures

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