IS the Cloud Secure? Understanding Cloud Data Protection and the benefits to UK SMB's can have with Cloud infrastructure.

Is the Cloud Secure? Understanding Cloud Data Protection and the benefits to UK SMB’s can have with Cloud infrastructure.

Is the Cloud Secure? Understanding the best Cloud Data Protection measures

With data breaches increasingly high-profile in recent times, UK small & midsize businesses (SMBs) are rightly concerned about data security, especially when moving critical systems to the cloud. With many points at which cyber-attacks can happen, company decision-makers need clarity and assurances that cloud tech and service providers like Metis can fully protect their data.

So, is the cloud secure? The reality is that the cloud offers enhanced data and system security in many ways, with market-leading providers offering airtight protection backed by round-the-clock monitoring. However, no infrastructure or data storage method is 100% hack-proof. Risks always exist, both online and offline. Critical questions need answering regarding cloud security, standards and compliances before deciding to migrate from legacy on-prem systems.

Arm yourself with knowledge and understand both risks and key protections in place when partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) like Metis for your cloud security requirements. Knowledge dispels fear and positions SMBs to reap expansive benefits from forward-thinking cloud adoption.

Is The Cloud More Secure Than On-prem Storage?

Many UK small and midsize businesses (SMBs) considering cloud adoption rightfully ask – is the cloud actually more secure than our existing on-premises infrastructure?

Is the cloud secure? Or does on premium still reign supreme? It’s a complex question. While legacy on-prem stores offer tangible data control and ownership, most SMBs lack the cyber security skills and monitoring capability to safeguard servers from sophisticated attacks. Research shows gaps here over trusting external cloud experts.

However, cautions exist for cloud reliance too. Outages can still happen, though major platforms build extensive redundancy. And some industries maintain on-prem needs to meet data sovereignty or ultra-low latency requirements. Hybrid models bridge gaps during transitional phases.

The reality is cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure now offer advanced cyber protection that the majority of SMBs cannot replicate or adequately fund in-house. Automatic encryption, AI threat detection, international compliance standards and more offer robust shields.

So for most general workloads, security gains typically outweigh reliance risks in 2023 and beyond. Yet prudent steps like data backups and availability planning remain vital too. We recommend phased cloud adoption supported by a managed services provider like Metis who takes shared data protection responsibility seriously. Contact us to explore multi-layered security tailored to your expanding needs.

How Do Data Breaches Happen in The Cloud?

While cloud infrastructure itself offers advanced security over legacy systems, data breaches unfortunately still occur at times, typically through:

Human Error: Misconfigurations like incorrectly set permissions enable data access exploits. SMBs must partner with diligent MSPs ensuring tight, compliant system configurations.

Phishing Attacks: Despite staff cyber security training, clicking malicious links in emails gives hackers access to cloud-based data. Multi-layered protection is key, not just relying on staff vigilance.

Compromised Credentials: Hackers stealing legitimate login credentials via malware, social engineering or database exploits can infiltrate data stores without needing to directly breach security layers. Strict access controls apply here.

Insecure Interfaces: Poorly coded or configured web apps and services connected to cloud servers provide opportunities for savvy hackers. Web app shields, code audits and penetration testing must be ongoing.

Insider Threats: Trusted employees going rogue for financial gain or revenge. Stringent staff screening combined with activity monitoring limits risks. Segregated admin roles also apply.

The skilled cyber criminals perpetrating attacks are relentless. However, as explored in the next sections, the leading cloud providers have both the incentive and dedicated in-house expertise to continually enhance platform security in response. Partnered resellers like Metis also invest heavily in additional managed data & threat protection specific to client needs.

What Cyber Security Standards Apply in The Cloud?

As UK small and midsize businesses consider migrating data to the cloud, questions arise around what specific cybersecurity standards and compliances are mandated for providers storing sensitive information.

Globally, Azure complies with over 100 international and regional standards, regulations and acts around data security and privacy to ease adoption across regulated industries like financial services, healthcare and retail.

These include ISO 27001, GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, UK DPA and NIST 800-53 enforcing stringent controls around encryption, identity management, sustained uptime and breach responsiveness. Independent audits validate compliance alongside real-time security monitoring.

For UK SMBs, Azure unconditional adherence to GDPR and DPA 2018 ensures customer data protection readiness aligned to local laws. Breach notification responsibilities lie on Microsoft’s shoulders. And by enabling multi-layered security controls, SMBs can actually fast-track their own compliance through cloud adoption.

Research from MMU indicates 93% of SMBs plan to adopt cloud services by 2025, citing risk reduction as the top driver. Yet gaps in expertise bring a need for managed service providers like Metis assisting with cloud security design, configuration governance and ongoing auditing aligned to standards like ISO 27001.

How Do Leading Cloud Providers Protect Business Data?

Microsoft, as the top cloud IaaS and SaaS provider globally per Gartner, offers industry-leading cyber protection strengthened by a $1 billion annual security R&D budget. Their layered defences safeguarding Azure data include:

Default Data Encryption: Encryption-at-rest applied per infrastructure disk block ensuring data unusable when isolated from keys.

Private Link Access: provides private endpoints mapping to data storage to prevent external exposure on the open internet.

Azure Firewall: High availability firewalling limiting network vectors, stopping DDOS attacks.

Microsoft Defender: Threat protection specifically designed for cloud apps and infrastructure, using AI to constantly evolve.

Azure Dedicated Hosts: Optional isolated servers for multi-layered data protection and regulatory compliance.

Plus additional frontline and lastline defences via network security groups, VPNs, unified threat management tools, copious monitoring and more. Security management is greatly simplified for clients through unified management platforms.

For VDI solutions, Nerdio’s Azure deployment actually enhances security vs traditional on-prem app and desktop delivery. Enabling conditional access policies for device management, multi-factor authentication and user self-service password reset fosters a secure environment.

As you explore Nerdio’s expansive security capabilities later in this blog, recognize that we closely partner with them specifically to enable tightened cloud data protection for financial services firms requiring compliance with regulations like PCI DSS, GDPR and ISO 27001 in the UK.

What Additional Security Precautions Should Be Taken?

While Microsoft invests $1 billion annually in enhancing Azure defences, no provider can offer blanket 100% data protection guarantees. Some key considerations for locking down cloud data include:

Conducting independent audits: Verifying security controls & configurations through external audits flags any risks. Testing via simulations also applies.

Enforcing MFA everywhere: Applying multi-factor auth shrinking attack vectors. Even SMS passcodes remain better than just passwords alone, but the gold standard is the likes of an authenticator application.

Minimising open internet connections: Enable private links to storage accounts, securing likely attack paths. Limit outward connections.

Managing Admin roles: Apply privileged access management, separately monitoring admin actions.

Backing up cloud data: Escape hatches remain key despite high availability across regions. Air-gapped backup infrastructure offers last resort restore capability if catastrophe hits.

Through Microsoft and its partners following cyber security best practices, UK SMBs can confidently migrate to the cloud knowing corporate jewels remain closely protected behind fortified barriers thwarting even aggressive hacking attempts.

While no infrastructure offers 100% hack-proof assurance, the extensive data security capabilities explored here greatly outweigh the typical protections SMBs historically had in place on-premise. Partnering with a premium cloud provider like Microsoft and a managed services firm like Metis investing heavily in compliance enablement greatly simplifies secure cloud adoption, and answering that question to wether or not, is the cloud secure?

Do reach out to discuss our cyber security offerings tailored to your SMBs operational needs as you look to digitally transform with platforms like Microsoft 365. We blend productivity application access with watertight data protection across infrastructures and devices, alerting your staff to suspicious activities before they become hugely problematic. That’s intelligent business enablement with security foremost in mind.

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