Security Issues and Things to Consider in Cloud Applications

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Businesses are more than ready to move their applications to the cloud. The main idea behind this is increasing efficiency and cutting down costs. However, cloud security experts say that the businesses should carefully consider how application security changes the cloud environment.

Losing control over the computing infrastructure is one of the top cloud application issues. For a business to move its legacy application to a cloud environment, it must give up control over patch management, access logs, servers, incidence response and network infrastructure.

Basically, you are handing that over to a service provider who will provide it for your business. This can reduce your costs significantly, and at the same time it can do away with the administrative burden.

According to TechGroup, an IT Support company from Miami, one of the best times to ask for outside help is when members of your IT department have been stretched too thin.

When running your own infrastructure, you are aware of what’s happening. But in the cloud environment, you don’t know. This is because the cloud is managed by a different person or company, who might not be willing to share with you how the environment is setup. Many applications are developed to be operated based on the enterprise data.

So, the ways in which they transfer and store data to should be trusted and secure.

Before moving your application to the cloud, you must understand that the application will be hosted in a hostile environment.

This means that all features that were running traditionally in a trusted environment are now running in an untrusted environment. Also, web interface, data transfer, and data storage must be considered.

Different threat model

The flexibility, openness and public availability of cloud computing infrastructure present different basic assumptions about application security. Encryption can be used in communication between servers of applications which process sensitive data. This ensures confidentiality and is brought about by the lack of physical control over the networking infrastructure.

An enterprise must reconsider the risks that it may have accepted when the application was in-house. For example, if an application is processing sensitive information to a file in the server without encrypting it, a company might accept the risk it owns the hardware.

Businesses should understand that there is no local filing system in a cloud environment. The application here processes the information in a shared environment.

The threat model here usually changes. This is because the vulnerabilities you assumed to be low are very high now and they should be fixed.

An organization using its own data center to host an application can deal with threats and block any attacking IP addresses.

On the other hand, what’s the capability of your cloud provider to mitigate attacks when you have zero visibility? You need to rethink about the risk and how the cloud provider can deal with the risk.

Tools and services

In a cloud environment, a business can deploy the same tools and services it deployed internally for security, like web application firewall. For instance, if a company used web application firewall for its legacy application, it cannot use it when moving it to the cloud.

In a cloud environment, a business doesn’t own or manage the infrastructure, so it cannot decide the security measures to be employed or not.

Most IaaS providers have started to offer cloud application security tools and services. These include source code analysis, web application firewalls and web application security scanning. Companies moving their applications to the cloud are advised to use APIs which can provide strong logging.

Service level agreement

Enterprises should understand the service level agreement’s provisions. This is important as moving an application to the cloud comes with the loss of control.

You should ensure that you state whatever you want even if the cloud provider cannot offer it. At times, cloud providers can stretch their services depending on the customer.

Application security must be represented as a clearly expressed set of actions and guarantees within the service level agreement. This includes documenting the security measures taken by the cloud provider as well as allowing numerous security tests related to ongoing activities.

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