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A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Security

A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Security

A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Security

Cloud computing is changing the way we do business. It’s estimated that 60% of all corporate data is stored on the cloud ”“  twice as much as in 2015 ”“ while global cloud infrastructure spending is projected to reach $118 billion by 2025. Cloud computing means a vast increase in storage capabilities and increased flexibility, opening the door to unprecedented levels of productivity and innovation.

But for many, the cloud also brings uncertainty. That’s because this new landscape brings about a whole new way of thinking when it comes to privacy and security. Cloud security management involves a different level of complexity than before, with new tools, techniques, and technologies, along with new processes and methods.

In this article, we break down the key aspects of cloud security, from the different types of clouds to the main risks and the challenges companies will face today and in the future.

What is cloud security?

Cloud security is a system of rules, processes, and technologies used to protect the cloud services used by a company and the data and applications stored and used within the cloud. 

While adoption is steadily increasing, there’s still some apprehension when it comes to migrating to the cloud. There are many exaggerated fears about the nature of cloud computing, causing some companies to be left behind. 

However, as we’ll show in this article, the question isn’t whether the cloud itself is safe, it’s whether it is being used in a safe way. 

Main types of cloud computing 

Public clouds

The most common type of cloud, public clouds are owned and operated by third-party providers and created specifically for individuals or businesses. Today, the majority of the public cloud market share belongs to its five largest providers: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Alibaba Cloud.

These companies essentially lease their cloud services for public use. The public cloud is cost-effective and hassle-free ”“ companies don’t have to worry about managing or maintaining servers or infrastructure, while security issues are dealt with by the provider.

However, due to its multi-tenant nature and a high number of access points, public clouds have a larger threat surface. This means that, while the best public cloud providers offer a robust infrastructure, with expert security measures in place, there’s a larger risk of security threats. Also, while the providers themselves are responsible for cloud security monitoring, cloud security management, and the overall infrastructure, the data security within the cloud and how it’s used is the responsibility of your company.

Private clouds

Unlike public clouds, private clouds are created for and used by a single dedicated end user or group. This means they have completely isolated access to the cloud. Until relatively recently, most private clouds were sourced from on-premise IT infrastructure. However, they can now be created in rented data centers. This leads to cloud security management provided by a third party ”“ a managed private cloud. 

Private clouds are often considered to be more secure than public clouds. After all, they have better isolation, unlike public clouds, which are based within an environment that’s shared by many. Nevertheless, this all depends on the strength of the company’s security and the expertise of its cybersecurity team. Private cloud security can also be more costly due to leasing expenses and extra hardware costs, although most private clouds provide a similar level of security to public ones for a similar price, aside from the infrastructure management that the provider offers. 

Hybrid clouds

Seen as an ideal blend between public and private clouds, hybrid clouds are essentially a single IT environment made up of several distinct groups. They’re kind of like several smaller clouds within a larger cloud, where data can be shifted from public to private and vice-versa, depending on specific security requirements. 

Hybrid clouds ensure a higher level of flexibility and scalability. However, they also bring a higher level of complexity, are harder to implement, and make cloud security management more difficult. Still, the use of hybrid clouds is on the rise, particularly for larger organizations. 

In 2020, the hybrid cloud market had an estimated value of $52 billion. With a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.73%, it’s expected to reach $262 billion by 2027. In fact, according to a survey by Cisco, 82% of large IT organizations are already using some form of hybrid cloud.


These are similar to hybrid clouds but with a key difference ”“ multi-clouds generally contain more than one public cloud, while hybrid clouds only contain one. The different clouds within a multi-cloud approach are generally not orchestrated or integrated. Instead, each cloud within a multi-cloud environment handles specific tasks.

Multi clouds enable next-level availability, as an entire workload can be shifted from one vendor to another in the event of a temporary issue. This saves on downtime. They can also be very cost-effective, as companies aren’t liable to pay for off-premise or in-house data centers. Also, taking a multi-cloud approach means taking the best points from different providers, giving companies holistic, tailored cloud security solutions.

This approach is favored by large companies that want to use the best parts from different vendors for optimal cloud security. Like hybrid clouds, multi-clouds require a high level of cloud security management expertise to implement and manage.   

Types of cloud computing services

IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service

IaaS means a cloud provider does all the cloud management for you ”“ from the servers and the network to the actual data store and the connection to the internet. You rent the cloud infrastructure from the provider. 

IaaS is rapidly gaining in popularity. According to a study by Gartner, the IaaS market grew from $64.3 billion in 2020 to $90.9 billion in 2021. It’s a monopolized market though, with the top five providers ”“ Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba, Google, and Huawei ”“ taking up an 80% market share.

PaaS: Platform as a Service

Typically used by professional developers or programmers, PaaS provides a shared environment for app development and management. It allows developers to work together and share data without the need to build and maintain separate infrastructures. 

A key part of DevOps, the PaaS market is projected to reach $319 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 22% between 2021 and 2030.

CaaS: Container as a Service

CaaS enables each service or team to manage, run, scale, and operate their own package of software, or ”˜container.’ This is ideal for a microservices approach to software development that consists of several separate services.

CaaS makes it a lot easier to deploy and scale distributed systems, without the need to manage or monitor the actual cloud architecture.

SaaS: Software as a Service 

SaaS enables the use of a dedicated application to a group or team, along with maintenance and management services of that application. This takes away the need for apps to be installed on individual users’ machines ”“ instead, the team can access the app through a cloud, where they can collaborate and share information.

Examples of SaaS platforms include Microsoft Teams, Slack, Salesforce, Dropbox, and Creative Cloud.

What are the main cloud security aspects to consider?

Migrating to the cloud means thinking differently about cybersecurity, as it’s a completely different environment from traditional IT systems. The three main things to consider are:

  • The threat landscape: threats come in different forms once your company migrates to the cloud. Understanding new threats and knowing how to mitigate them is crucial.
  • Detection methods: the cloud requires a new focus when it comes to anticipating and reacting to threats. A framework like the MITRE ATT&CK Matrix helps experts to implement robust cloud security monitoring, as well as tailor specific techniques to detect a wide variety of threats. It has a specific matrix that defines cloud security threats and the common techniques and tactics used by adversaries.
  • IT environment: as the environment has completely changed, assets and technologies take on a new status. 

Data protection

Dealing with data becomes more complex with the introduction of a cloud environment, which means having to understand new methods to protect it. Of course, the complexity depends on the architecture of the cloud, whether public, private, hybrid, or multi-cloud, as well as the platform type, whether SaaS, PaaS, CaaS, or IaaS.

Vulnerability management

This involves analyzing the new environment to identify potential weaknesses, thereby mitigating any threats before they happen. It’s a continuous process and is crucial to good cloud security management.

Examples of cloud vulnerabilities are poor access management, security gaps, regular data loss, and non-compliance.

Identity and access management (IAM)

Having control of who has permission and access to the cloud is a big part of cloud security management. IAM, or identity and access management, helps to pinpoint and mitigate security risks, reduces service costs, and boosts productivity. 

Infrastructure protection

Having robust critical infrastructure protection in place is a major part of cloud security management. It provides visibility to attack threats, protects hardware and software assets, and increases your company’s security posture. Infrastructure protection is generally implemented by experts in cloud security management.

Application security

A set of processes, controls, and policies within a cloud app, application security protects those apps from threats. Application security is an ongoing process and involves developing, testing, and adapting features within the cloud application.

Incident response

When it comes to cybersecurity, preparation is key. That’s why having an incident response plan (IRP) in place is so essential. It acts as a roadmap for how to respond when an attack takes place. A well-designed, multifaceted IRP saves on operational downtime, protects company revenue and data, and takes a proactive approach to cybersecurity.

What can Ackcent offer?

Cloud security is a complex topic that, understandably, makes people apprehensive. But, while moving towards cloud technology can be daunting, it’s important to understand that the way you use the cloud is key. 

That’s why experts in cloud security solutions like Ackcent are increasingly sought after. We’re passionate about helping people transition onto the cloud, but our work doesn’t end there. Once we’ve created a robust infrastructure based on your company’s precise requirements, we help your company become more productive and achieve the kind of growth that wasn’t previously achievable. 

So be it public, private, hybrid, or multi-cloud, and whether via IaaS, PaaS, CaaS or SaaS; we’re here to help you transition to the cloud with ease, then build towards a better, brighter, more secure future.

Are you ready to find out more about cloud security? Contact Ackcent today!