The cloud computing revolution is everywhere, from small business organizations to big multinationals, everyone is leveraging the advantages of this technology. According to a survey conducted by Access Smart, by 2013, 80% of companies will spend between 7% and 30% of their IT budget on cloud services. Using cloud computing services not only lets organizations access their information from anywhere in the world at any time, it promises to cut their operational and capital costs. Although 54% of the companies surveyed cited security as the top reason for transitioning their services to the cloud, the advancements in the use of this technology has brought with it a host of security risks to the cloud computing domain.

Cloud Computing Security Risks

While most customers check the services that a particular cloud provider offers, it is also important to demand transparency from the providers and learn more about their security programs. Gather information on areas like data integrity and recovery before making a final decision on whether your organization’s data will be safe with the provider. Here are the top security concerns associated with cloud computing that need to be addressed.

•   Data security: Since your provider would have all the information concerning your customers, marketing strategies, project plans, etc, it becomes crucial that you check the provider’s reputation in the market. This information can be misused by your competitors and fraudsters, resulting in privacy issues. Check the provider for data protection and operational integrity services offered. Also ask about the location that your data will be hosted. Remember, when it comes to choosing a provider, transparency should the first box that needs to be checked off.

•    Regulatory compliance: Always choose providers who have security certification and are ready for external audits. Data handling and business continuity are two prime concerns that need to be addressed for compliance by any provider. Since different countries have different norms for compliance, make sure you check whether the provider addresses all these norms and is equipped to handle your data in a totally different country. They should be able to provide you with data logs and event monitoring options for your data.

•    User authentication: When data is processed outside your enterprise, there is always some inherent risk. Get information about the people who will manage your data and what norms for access will be followed by the provider. Ask the provider whether they provide role-based access services, as well as the password handling system configured by the provider.

•    Data separation: A particular cloud services provider not only manages your organization’s data, but also simultaneously manages data for several other companies. It is vital to ask about the practices being followed to separate your data from other data, how the data is segregated, and whether regular backup is taken of the data under their care. Also ask about the assurances for the availability of data at all times and if there are any penalties for downtime.

•    Legal issues: Gain insight into the legal framework adopted by the cloud provider. Ask about the liability in case of any data breach. Intellectual property rights agreements between the two parties should be of prime importance. While the provider owns the right to his infrastructure and applications, the client owns the right to his data and computational results.

As more and more organizations move to clouds for applications, storage, and flexibility services, it becomes imperative that these security risks be addressed by all cloud providers. Each technological evolution brings with it its own risks and it is important to take care of these irregularities to ensure maximum benefits from any technology.