13 Security Criteria to Look at When Evaluating a Cloud Service

According to a survey done by CSA IT professionals, more and more companies are either using or migrating to the cloud to bolster their business operations and acquire a competitive edge. One thing with cloud computing is that the applications and data have to be highly secured to meet the growing demands for cloud users which has increasingly created the need for cloud service security.

Accordingly, the cloud service security model is an end-to-end process, as the systems supporting it take years to be developed and structured so as to keep the operational environment safe and free from all sorts of security breaches. This means companies, organizations or individuals have to undertake certain security measures about the cloud service they use or prefer using for their data, software, server, or network solutions.

security-word-in-dictionary

More From Cloud Computing:

Here are the top 13 security criteria to look at when evaluating a cloud service.

  1. Information security

At the center of cloud service models, the information security should be the most considered criteria for evaluating the security of the IT infrastructure. Information security involves a lot and some of the primary considerations include network, information, and application security. With proper information security, the cloud’s defense system assures efficiency and effectiveness in handling all the notable security concerns.

In particular, information security evaluation involves the general assessment of information security, how the security policies are implemented and how the information security infrastructure is created. The notable results of such an evaluation is acquiring a service with a rewarding program for reporting network, software, and information security issues and reducing server vulnerabilities.

  1. Service APIs and authentication access

Service APIs and authentication access has to be manageable at all costs because they are the elements that maintain the cloud services security. Consequently, APIs and authentication access have to be highly evaluated as part of determining the viability of cloud service security.

APIs only work through encryption channels and every request needs the addition of time-bound authentication signature generated through a secret key based on a logical authentication system. In other words, all cloud services must have efficient operational platform that is based on a robust authentication infrastructure in the form of security access keys.

  1. Authentication and identity

Closely related to the authentication access management, this criterion involves a myriad of things which makes it one of the best when it comes to evaluating a cloud service. It caters for the needs of multi-factor authentication, user access and identity verification. The multi-factor authentication mainly addresses the underlying key factors in addition to passwords like SMS codes and information verification before access to the server.

It is something that can be done every time or occasionally, especially when cases of breach are detected. User access simply ensures only the right users access the cloud service while identity verification pertains to the single sign-on that the cloud service offers. The same applies for sensitive data management such as the prevention of users sharing crucial information. Cloud services must have these fundamental capabilities to prove their security is top-notch.

  1. Data center physical security

Another security criterion to look at when evaluating a cloud service is the provider’s data center physical security. Many may disregard this but it’s very important. For instance, good cloud services must have their data centers featuring a layered security model, including precautionary measures such as biometrics, breach detectors, alarms and so on.

The data centers must be under surveillance 24/7 to detect and track intruders and the use of cameras is significant in reviewing any security breach incidents. A well secured physical data centers similarly proves the same precautions are taken to ensure the security of the cloud service offered.

  1. Data accessibility

Cloud services feature practices and controls targeted at protecting the security of customer data. The layers within the cloud service applications and storage systems demand that incoming requests are authorized and authenticated. Access by the IT staff maintaining the back-end systems also needs control.

Accordingly, data accessibility must be part of the security criteria to look at when evaluating a cloud service. A well maintained cloud service ensures that data accessibility is prompt and free of unauthorized access. A well guarded data access system with a security protocol for authentication proves a worthy cloud service.

  1. Software and server stack security

Cloud services run thousands and thousands of identical, specially made servers. They support anything from virtual IT infrastructure to custom-built software stack. These software stack and virtual IT infrastructure have to be highly secured.

Besides, there is need for homogeneity together with proper management of the entire stack to trim down security footprint and allow for a quicker reaction to threats. As such, software and server stack security should be highly considered as a security criteria when assessing a cloud service.

  1. Cloud service platform security features

All cloud service products, are created with security as a the most essential design and development necessity. Plus, the cloud service platform has to be highly reliable and engineered to oversee the security demands of the platform systems to uphold high accessibility while preventing any sort of platform hacks or security breaches. Each cloud service platform has its own product specific security features which must be evaluated to determine security level and platform-wide capabilities.

  1. Logging and monitoring

Within the cloud service platforms, all API request namely user account access, storage bucket access, and user account access are monitored and logged. Hence, logging and monitoring can be used as a security criterion when evaluating a cloud service. The more the effectiveness of cloud platform logging and monitoring tools, the higher the security level as well as the availability of your IT infrastructure services.

  1. Data disposal

When retiring from a cloud service provider, you’ll want your data and crucial information subjected to a reliable data destruction process before exiting the cloud system. There is a standard procedure through which this can be done and it’s a provision supported by a number of cloud service providers. For instance, virtual data drives have to be logically wiped and a second inspection has to be done to confirm the success of the process.

If the data cannot be wiped due to technical hitches, then it has to be safely stored until it is destroyed. The data should also not be used for any other purposes or sold out to other parties. Such data disposal policies are very important and must be embraced as part of the security criteria when evaluating a cloud service.

  1. Intrusion detection

Cloud services have to include in scope intrusion detection tools. These tools aid in installing preventive measures against hacking and breaches. They are intelligent detection controls that monitor data and information entry points by using technologies that automatically address creation vulnerable situations.

Penetration testing is also key under this category as it goes along with the enhancement of intrusion detection. If you plan to evaluate the security of a cloud service, then you must consider intrusion detection.

  1. Certifications and compliance

Cloud services together with their infrastructural frameworks must be certified to comply with a number of controls and standards, and must equally be in line with independent third party audits to scrutinize security, safety, and privacy. Ideally, certification and compliance helps cloud users understand their roles in meeting specific regulatory measure which may substantially affect data and information security and safety. Thus, certification and compliance must be considered as a security criteria when assessing a cloud service.

  1. Data encryption

Cloud platform services at all times encrypt users data stored within their database without any action needed from the user. The encryption methods may be one or more and it also depends on additional user security requirements. As such, data encryption is a very fundamental component in cloud service delivery systems and must thus be a highly considered security criteria when evaluating a cloud service.

  1. Security scanning

Security scanning is a cloud concept that pertains to cloud operational systems and security patches. Differently stated, they are cloud security scanners assisting in the identification of the most frequent vulnerabilities. Having the right security scanning technology enables a cloud service to ensure up-to-date applications with the finest security patches. Hence, security scanning is can be used as an appropriate security criteria in cloud service assessment.

Image credit: flickr