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Busting the cloud security myth

September 17, 2015

Clients must be wary of attempts to discredit cloud solutions with claims of their lack of security, says Viesturs Zalaiskalns, channel manager at HansaWorld SA.

Data in the cloud is less secure than in your own offices, right? Wrong - very wrong. This is the same as feeling safer with your money in your sock rather than in the bank. Data and applications in the cloud are typically far more secure than those hosted on the premises.

That's according to Viesturs Zalaiskalns, Channel Manager at HansaWorld South Africa, who says clients should be wary of attempts to discredit cloud solutions with claims of their lack of security.

"For one thing, when data is in the cloud, it is impossible for anyone to simply walk off with your servers in the event of a break-in," he says. "For another, data in the cloud is typically hosted in fault-tolerant, mirrored data centres. It has a level of persistence which would take investments of tens or even hundreds of millions of rands for ordinary businesses to achieve." Therefore, hosting your system in the cloud gives you access to high levels of security without excessive investment.

While there may be a perception that hosted solutions are easier to break into than those which are under personal lock and key, due to their nature of being ‘on the Internet', Zalaiskalns says nothing could be further from reality.

"The business of the hosting providers is to provide a safe haven for customer data, regardless of whether they are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or local data centre operators. Their livelihood depends on providing secure services and they do that for millions of customers. Again, these operators have security measures in place that the average business can only dream of; therefore, your data is more, not less, secure, in these facilities."

As for interception, encryption is a standard feature of most cloud services, and particularly those which are mission-critical, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

There are also technical risks associated with on-site deployments, which fall away with cloud solutions. Unless these are properly managed, on-site installations can run out of disk space, interrupting business and damaging the database.

Zalaiskalns adds that security risks where the cloud is concerned are more theoretical than real. While compromises can never be completely ruled out, it comes down to a question of odds. "It is so unlikely that the risks are almost vanishingly small. What we can be sure of, though, is that the risks you face by keeping your data on-premises are far greater," he says.

The vendors that don't have a cloud-ready product, continues Zalaiskalns, are typically those which will shout loudest about the so-called security challenges.

"Cloud computing is proven secure. It is proven by the millions of companies today that use cloud computing for everything from ERP to online procurement to collaboration, and even for payment transactions. These services run around the clock, with so few threats resulting in any serious problems that they are considered a perfectly normal way to get things done efficiently. If anyone claims cloud solutions are insecure, they are simply ignoring the reality of how the world works today," he concludes.