In the past few years, people have grown from storing their data on their physical storage devices to cloud storage. Now, cloud storage is the fastest growing division of the IT infrastructure as more and more entities and people are tapping into cloud storage to expand their storage capabilities. With cloud storage, there is limitless and fast access to data and the services are suited for diverse storage needs at negligible cost. Nonetheless, there are a number of security risks that comes with having personal or business data stored on the cloud.
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In this sense, this info reveals 13 security questions to ask before buying cloud storage.
Table of Contents
- What Encryption Policies are in Place?
- Is there a Single-tenant Hosting Option Set Apart From That of Other Clients?
- What is the Back-up and Recovery Plan?
- What are the Access, Authentication and Sign-on Policies?
- Is the Cloud Storage Provider up-to-date on Industry and Data Center Certifications?
- How Well Does the Provider’s Security Policy Know/Match Your Industry /Company/Business?
- Who Manages the Applications on the Back End Layer, and What are the Guidelines for Managing Insider Breaches?
- What are the Bandwidth Limitations?
- What is the Provider’s SLA?
- How Much Will the Cloud Storage Cost?
- What Happens if there is a Decision to Leave the Cloud?
- What Assurances is the Storage Provider Willing to Make?
- Where is the Storage Provider’s Server Located?
What Encryption Policies are in Place?
For starters, the question about the encryption policies used to protect data during transfer as well as during storage is very critical. Sensitive data needs utmost protection which can only be assured by the use strong encryption levels before it is transferred into the cloud. Cloud providers offer server-side encryption which is something you can highly consider while evaluating your cloud storage options.
Understanding the data encryption policies in place is the best way of ensuring the stored data is well managed by standard IT monitoring tools and management software. The cloud storage policies must meet compliance standards of data storage accountability and breach management.
Is there a Single-tenant Hosting Option Set Apart From That of Other Clients?
One of the complicating aspects of cloud storage is multi-tenant deployment. This means the data server space is shared by multiple clients. As such, one of the most vital questions to ask before buying cloud storage is if the cloud vendor stores your data side-by-side with other peoples or organization’s data. If that is the case, then it’s preferable to opt for single-tenant hosting which will ensure your data is kept separate.
The risks of having data in a multi-tenant environment are the possibility of it leaking and falling in the hands of others, potentially even your business rivals. Sometimes it could also be that private information that you’ve always kept a secret. On top of the single-tenant hosting concern, one should also check if the anticipated cloud provider runs regular tests for data leaks.
What is the Back-up and Recovery Plan?
The single factor that is not always considered trivial but very important when it comes to cloud storage is the back-up and recovery plan. Let’s look at it from this angle, a cloud storage user or business needs the guarantee of continuity in case of a natural or anthropogenic disaster.
IT experts say businesses and cloud storage users should be aware of the hosting facility’s physical location, and can even request an on-site examination if possible. The concern should be more about what happens if things go completely erroneous. In the simplest terms, back-up and recovery plan is a must ask security question before buying a cloud storage.
What are the Access, Authentication and Sign-on Policies?
The most ordinary method of accessing software or an application online is through the use of a username and password. Typically, it is like entering through the front door of your home. But the question always remain, what are the security measures ensuring entry into the house is safe? The same question applies to cloud storage access, authentication and sign-on. As a first-timer to cloud storage, the best recommendation is to seek cloud storage entities that offer the safest sign on policies to the application in question.
For instance, a higher degree of authentication is registered by a cloud storage company whose sign on policies within the bounds of their VPN or firewall. That way, users are assured of safe log in to the provider’s intranet before signing on to the application in question. Such a security policy enables the provider to disable the user’s account access immediately they go offline. Another reason for understanding the provider’s sign on policies is because it will help you determine the available password recovery options, user authentication and security breach measures.
Is the Cloud Storage Provider up-to-date on Industry and Data Center Certifications?
Making sure the cloud vendor is in accord with the most recent industry and data center certifications such as the SSAE 16, which lately substituted SAS 70 is extremely valuable. For instance, the SSAE 16 is a vital audit standard for businesses in public sectors and with financial data. It is also considered highly essential for users who consider their data to be of high integrity.
How Well Does the Provider’s Security Policy Know/Match Your Industry /Company/Business?
Making certain the cloud provider’s security policy is compliant with your company’s security and privacy compliance needs has its merits. And this is the reason it should be one of the top security questions that should be asked before buying cloud storage. There is value in selecting a provider that comprehends your business data storage needs. The reason for this is that data storage solutions differ from one business to another.
Maybe your business is in healthcare, media, gaming or finance industry. There are cloud providers that are suited for your industry’s business niche or the kind of data you need stored. Also, if your company has security policy in place, it can be harmonized with the service provider’s data security policies.
Who Manages the Applications on the Back End Layer, and What are the Guidelines for Managing Insider Breaches?
Insider and general breaches are risks that comes with cloud computing. They are among the many security issues tied to the flows of human nature and some technical vulnerabilities. As a first time to cloud storage, asking this security question is mandatory. By knowing the technical team behind the management of the back end layer grants you a better position of understanding the social vulnerabilities with respect to cloud storage. The guidelines for managing insider breaches are also better administered when you know who has the authority to adjust the application plus the rules and access rights.
What are the Bandwidth Limitations?
As part of your data storage usage strategy, you need to know the bandwidth limitations for the initial big data backup and what occurs when you need to restore the big data. The key question you have to ask is if the provider offers the capability of bulk data transfer.
Another important question relates to the bandwidth restrictions of the vendor’s locations. Cloud storage demands data migration into a wide area network, which habitually result in higher costs and bandwidth necessities for cloud storage. Bandwidth limitations also influences data transfer speeds.
What is the Provider’s SLA?
Before buying cloud storage, one should carefully read the provider’s SLA. SLA pertains to the service levels access which establishes the provision of on-demand scalability that keeps applications running. The other available features based on the service levels on-demand scalability include crash back-up, off-site back-up, high availability, disaster recovery and upgrades. These cloud storage services are only ascertainable when the vendor’s SLA is well known and thoroughly accessed before cloud storage is bought.
How Much Will the Cloud Storage Cost?
Over and over again, the amount you’ll actually spend on buying cloud storage is an important security question. Why is it so? The reason is that the prices of the cloud storage services determine the kind of security you’ll get for the stored data. Freemium subscriptions come with higher risks for sensitive data while premium or other high-end cloud storage solutions comes with advanced data security features. Plus, the storage charges will influence bandwidth and data limits as well as the kind of data to be stored. Accordingly, it’s best to evaluate and compare the existent subscription charges before joining the cloud pool.
What Happens if there is a Decision to Leave the Cloud?
The moment a decision is made to join the cloud, it will eventually reach a point where users decide to leave or move to a new cloud provider. Therefore, should there be any reason to leave a cloud provider, what would be the repercussions? Would there be any disruption when migrating to a new cloud? and what would be the safety of the stored data? These are the security questions you’ll need to ask before buying cloud storage.
What Assurances is the Storage Provider Willing to Make?
The questions of assurances are very crucial and they are aimed at assessing the general security standards of the cloud storage service provider. The assurance questions include: what happens as soon as a breach is detected? How swift can the provider take to normalize operations in case of a disaster? What are the insurance provisions in case the provider closes or the server is under seizure by the law enforcement?
Where is the Storage Provider’s Server Located?
Although this question may be perceived as insignificant, the truth of the matter is that it is highly acceptable when making plans to buy a secure cloud storage service. When data is stored in multiple regions or different data centers across the globe, it has an added advantage of surviving local and regional outages. The storage of data in multiple data centers simply improves the uptime of data and the data recovery capabilities in cases of data loss or IT infrastructure disaster.
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