Businesses migrate to the cloud from dedicated hosting for several different reasons, with one of these being security. It is a widely held belief that cloud environments stand to offer more security and protection than is available with traditional dedicated hosting plans, with many CIOs placing their trust in the advanced encryption and security algorithms that lie at the heart of the cloud and would be pretty much impossible for other organisations to copy on a smaller scale. So what helps to make the cloud more secure? We’ve collated the top 5 reasons that we think make the cloud more secure than dedicated hosting.
1 – Data is encrypted
Your cloud virtual machines are encrypted on the disks on which they are stored and this will encompass all data that these virtual machines contain. In comparison with dedicated hosting, the data on a dedicated server more often than not isn’t encrypted and represents an easy target for hackers where the server isn’t thoroughly secured. As cloud data is encrypted, the data is essentially useless to hackers unless they are also able to obtain the encryption keys that guard the data, but these are often held under tight security themselves; without the encryption keys, data will simply appear as garbled text to the hacker. With your data encrypted, this is another line of defence and means that even if the security of the cloud is compromised then the data hosted on your virtual machines is still protected; however, it doesn’t account for scenarios where the login details of your individual virtual machines have been compromised.
2 – Data storage is centralised
With most cloud hosting infrastructure architectures, data storage is centralised over a Storage Area Network (SAN), enabling virtual machines to be transported across hypervisor nodes whilst still having access to the data that drives them. This provides additional security benefits as this means that if the primary network or individual hypervisors are compromised, then your data won’t be compromised. A SAN works separately to the main cloud network and is a private internal network that has been allocated the specific task of handling data storage, therefore the traffic that passes over this network will never be viewable from outside the cloud.
3 – Fully managed platform
In the case of the public cloud, customers are provided with a fully managed platform that, if you have your services with a reputable web hosting provider, will have been secured to industry standards – in other words you can expect to be hosted in a highly secure environment. In terms of web hosting, ‘fully managed’ relates to the level of control that the web hosting provider maintains over the hosting environment; with a public cloud the infrastructure and hardware maintenance is taken care of the web hosting company, so all you have to worry about is setting up and configuring your virtual machines to meet your requirements. It also means they are going to go to town with the level of security used and most web hosting companies exploit the latest in security technologies to provide you with an environment which is guarded to an extent that would be hard for most companies to achieve on their own.
4 – External attacks are easier to mitigate
With many users hosted on a single public cloud platform, it has become imperative for cloud hosting companies to invest heavily in security features that will help to mitigate external attacks that are forever growing in size, an example of which would be DDoS attacks. The resources that are necessary to handle large DDoS attacks are still an expensive resource, with a majority of the expense being attributed to the cost of bandwidth and the hardware that is required. Within a shared environment it has never been cost effective for such measures to be taken, and the nature of shared hosting has meant that it is a feature that the clientele would never require; with dedicated hosting, such measures are expensive to implement when it is being done on a per-server basis. As a private cloud customer then you will also have the choice to implement this as a feature and because of the number of virtual machines you are likely to be hosting in a private cloud, the expense could prove to be rather cost effective.
5 – Provisioning of new servers is simple
In most cloud environments, the provision of new virtual machines is a relatively simple procedure that can be completed in just a few clicks through a web interface. The benefit here lies in the fact that if you are facing security issues with a virtual machine then it is fairly easy to take that VM offline and setup a new, more secure VM for the hosting of your services. This would then give you the time necessary to repair or restore the infected virtual machine without inducing any downtime for your website. You can create and destroy virtual machines as you wish so that any infected VMs can be eradicated very quickly before there is a chance for the infection to spread, meanwhile new virtual machines can be created and secured to a higher degree.