Interview: Cloud’s biggest threat? The customers who use it SPECIAL Read more:

The cloud computing market is growing rapidly, backed by major players like Google and Amazon. However impactful, companies need to consider the cybersecurity risks involved in gravitating to the cloud. A security consultant provides an overview.

Each year cloud continues to expand. In fact, the public cloud market is projected to reach 354.6 billion by 2022. However, these numbers don’t mean cloud providers such as Oracle and Google Cloud have nothing to fear. in fact, one survey finds that 48 percent of organizations on the cloud would consider moving data storage back on premises. A big part of that is the security concerns cloud poses. Nearly half of those companies encountered a security incident in 2018. This is especially concerning considering 50 percent of companies store personally identifying information on the cloud and 24 percent store payment data.

To learn more about the threats, Digital Journal spoke with George Burns III, Senior Consultant of Cloud Operations, SPR.

Digital Journal: How fast is the cloud market growing?

George Burns: The cloud market has been growing across most market segments for the last several years, and that growth will continue as we migrate more workloads from on-prem infrastructure to cloud platforms. Growth will continue to favor some verticals at certain times, but as the cloud continues to become the place where new workloads are deployed, growth will level out to more of a maintenance level.
Emerging cloud technologies will fuel the most notable growth going forward — with edge computing being one of today’s most notable examples. Makers are working on extending valuable data and compute resources into more advantageous network locations, providing better user product experiences and extending cloud connectivity into more and more. The continued growth of Internet-connected IoT devices, and the deployment of their connected infrastructures onto cloud platforms, will offer another area of growth to both cloud platform providers and product makers.

DJ: Who are the big players with cloud technology?

Burns: Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft’s Azure and the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are the largest providers of public cloud resources. Some industries have large players that are impactful within their space, such as Epic Systems, in the Electronic Medical Records space. Oracle has a large stake in growth of cloud technologies, with its Oracle and MySQL databases being the largest database products deployed in production environments.
Hardware manufacturers, too, have both an interest and an impact in the space. As cloud data centers continue to be built and upgraded, CPUs continue to get faster and more CPU designs are influenced by cloud trends. For example, the explosion of growth in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning has influenced GPU design and its importance in cloud data center design.
The cloud also impacts the storage space. As we create and retain data, it grows exponentially “colder” every year. This has led to the creation of data storage solutions lower per GB storage fees. At the same time, we’ve seen more “hotter” technologies, like NVMe and its use over network fabrics, emerge to address the need for decreased latency in the user experience.

DJ: What security concerns does the cloud pose?

Burns: Much like the data center, the cloud itself is not the security risk, but rather, the risks are the connective infrastructures that allow products and platforms to work together. It’s vital to properly deploy and manage your cloud platform, including documentation and change management, to maintain security.
The pillars of security that we depend on, such as trusted Certificate Authorities, are increasingly important, as is their independence and reputation. When deciding which technologies to use within your infrastructure, include a security review. You will also need a complete understanding of data flows within your infrastructure to maintain platform’s security. Most importantly, when deploying something in the cloud, companies must ensure they’re working with resources and partners who are trusted and knowledgeable about the products and platforms they are using.

DJ: How many businesses have been impacted by cloud security issues?

Burns: More business have been impacted by cloud security issues than we’ll ever be able to accurately count. “Cloud security” now encompasses almost any of the seemingly ever-present data leak scenarios.But cloud security doesn’t just include issues directly relating to the cloud anymore. Not every company will notice each attack, leak or security hole. For some, their breaches will result from simply a failure of resources or a lack of ability to identify or track security threats. For others, it will be a failure of human capital or business relationships.
The cloud reaches us all, whether we realize and benefit from it or not. I am confident in saying that every business will be impacted by a cloud security gap, and that most businesses already have.
DJ: What solutions can be put in place to protect cloud providers and customers?
Burns: Cloud and other emerging technologies require skill sets and technical knowledge that are often fluid and specific. The first step in maintaining a secure infrastructure requires working with resources and partners who are certified on and in using the platform(s) and products that you use Regular security reviews and audits will help you identify and remedy any security concerns on a regular schedule.

DJ: What does the future state of the cloud look like for IT leaders?

Burns: For IT leaders, it will be important to balance the stability of the proven with the promise of the new. Emerging technologies offer excitement, growth and the promise of more but can often be unproven, offer an unknown future, and are, at times, more vulnerable to security threats.
IT leaders need to embrace change while balancing overall security and stability with providing the best products and experiences to their users. The cloud will continue to be the space where we see exciting expansion and innovation. Public clouds will continue to be the most readily available option for most businesses. Melding the possible with the necessary will be the guiding principle for successful IT leadership.

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