Simple data encryption is not the only solution which can be relied upon in cloud data security. It can be met by applying existing security techniques and following sound security practices. The prospective cloud adopters definitely would have security concerns with the storing and processing of data in a public, hybrid or in a community cloud. When it comes to data protection in the cloud, authentication, identity, access control, encryption, secure deletion, integrity checking and data masking are all the techniques applicable to cloud computing.
Authentication of users may take several forms like a password, a security token or some measurable quality that is intrinsic to them such as fingerprint. Single-factor authentication is based only on one authentication factor, whereas, multiple-authentication-factor (MAF) is usually a secure two-step identity authentication like the use of a password and a one-time password (OTP) SMS. Federated-Identity-Management OR FIM could easily be utilized by more than one firm which allows subscribers to use the same identification for obtaining access to all the networks of the group enterprises. Then, there is the Single sign-on (SSO), which lets the user login to multiple applications while authenticating only once.
Access Control mechanism is the key, wherein, maintaining a complex IT environment becomes easy that supports separation and integrity of different levels. This, together with other cloud security protocols, work towards securing the cloud data. The most common types of this technique are as follows for data protection:
These three access controls, though fundamentally different, can be combined in different ways to give a multi-level security to the cloud data.
For effective data protection controls to be put in place, the nature of information is to be understood first. So the valuable data has to be categorized as to what is sensitive and what can be accessed. After the data is identified and categorized, then the needed cloud security strategies can be implemented on it. Data can be categorized and labeled as unclassified, confidential, secret, top secret or compartmented. Labeling also helps in segregating categories such as finance, business, HR, IT and so on. There has to be a balance in managing sensitive information and sound strategies for protecting the data.
Strong encryption forms a key strategy to protect the data at rest in the cloud particularly for the data which has continuing value for an extended time period. There are various methods to encrypt the data at rest. The methods are full disk level, directory level, file level and application level. For the data, which is in motion; there are two considerations – 1) one is maintaining the integrity and 2) the other is to ensure that the data remains confidential when in motion. This type of data can be protected by combining encryption and authentication so that data can pass safely to and from the cloud.
When the matter of data deletion in cloud is considered, it is important to know how the data is deleted.
As more and more people shift to cloud services, the demand for cloud security is rising. Thus, it is important that organizations know how well their data can be protected, so that correct procedure is adopted and followed for data protection.