Hackers and the Cloud

There are a variety of reasons someone might be hacking your information, with any Cloud service there is going to be a wealth of data. Remember, whatever your reason for choosing one Cloud provider over another, other people are likely making similar choices for similar reasons. In addition, with more and more people moving their data to the Cloud, the increase in payoff for the hacker attracts more sophisticated hackers. Hackers will use a number of entry points to get into the Cloud provider. A lot of the vulnerabilities are in the interface between you and the Cloud provider. A Cloud service should be using the most sophisticated techniques to secure your data on their end. But remember that an API gives access to the server, in limited formats, to any one using the UI or API.

An API, or Application Programming Interface, is is similar to a UI, or User Interface. Though often used similarly, the two can offer varying services depending on who is using the term. An interface is the way a user interacts with some program or programs; an API provides access to the service. It is a program that you can operate from a remote location. This interface provides a key security loophole that can be exploited because the Cloud provider is giving access to the user. It can seem an obvious problem, and in some respects it is, in addition some API’s give access to the Cloud customer’s customer. Some companies or individuals are using Cloud services to offer back up and security to their prospective clients.

There is no one-step way to prevent hackers, a lot depends on the systems you are using. For every system there are going to periodic vulnerabilities, but staying up to date with the latest patches for your software is important. Researching known vulnerabilities is also important. There are various companies which you can hire to keep you abreast of vulnerabilities and problems that occur.

A lot of Hackers are increasing their efforts towards spear phishing, spear phishing is a way to find out passwords or answers to security question through indirect means. After discovering who has access, a hacker will look through public information about that customer, and even a username that might be given away by the employee. The most basic thing you can do to thwart hackers is to educate your employees on the various threats to security. What could seem like an innocuous question, or email attachment, can very well be the opening to an attack. The basics are simple, verify everything. If you aren’t sure of the website, or an email attachment, then do a little research into it. Perhaps you are getting a call from someone saying they are a provider; find out for sure by calling them back.

Hackers have a variety of reasons to get your information, sometimes to sell it to other hackers who can use your usernames and passwords to log into other sites. Suffice to say, this information is becoming more and more of a commodity it our markets. And as long as there are people who want that information, a burgeoning blackmarket for information will develop.

The difficulty is that this is all going on behind the scenes. You may have been hacked and not even know it, yet identifying what information was compromised, and the weak point in your system that allowed for the breach, is a crucial part of keeping a competitive edge in the world today. A lot of the prevention can seem vague or unnecessary to keep your data safe, but it is vital to understand security and your Cloud provider.

Porting your Data as a Cloud Customer

Without any single dominant Cloud provider porting your data from one service to another is a grueling task. Depending on the service you are using; Iaas, Paas, or Saas all come with their own interoperability problems. Even something as simple as a Saas Cloud customer may want to move their data held in the cloud to an in-house server as your operations grow and become more streamlined. The problem is that your Cloud provider may not have the right tools for a convenient transition. For instance if you wanted to move all your emails to another client. Imagine forwarding each email individually, this is meant as an illustrative example only. Your platform may or may not have solutions to porting over into an new system.

For the consumer porting your services from one provider to another would be a significant boon. Before the consumer decides on a Cloud provider to host their operations they have to ask themselves what type of operations are they outsourcing. The nuances will vary according to type of Cloud service being utilized, and the needs their particular products have. For instance if you are utilizing an Saas Cloud system then the data stored on say iMessage wouldn’t transfer directly to Google Chat; or perhaps you are using a Paas system for your cloud services and coding in a particular platform. You might find that you would be able to minimize costs by switching Cloud Services but you might have to recode elements of your services or perhaps switch languages. The issues aren’t unsolvable these days, in fact we have even begun to write programs that debug programs, but that solution is in its infancy and would increase costs for the Cloud consumer.

The problems are a mixture of technical know how, and a business will. Interoperability in a general sense is the ability of an infrastructure to be able to connect and communicate with another structure without implementation or restriction of access. It is the ability for a service to be formatted so as to allow cross-platform communication. And each Cloud Service is going to want to showcase a unique product to their customer base. Essentially they will want to carve out a niche at the least, if not become the primary provider, and to do that they need to have a unique and powerful offering.

Some of the issues facing interoperability and ease of porting a customers data include: rebuilding applications, the actual transfer of data, and making sure the services the consumer needs exist on the new platform. From the customers perspective being able to have full service compliance would be important. You wouldn’t want as a customer to be going over to a new system and having your old files need to be reengineered just get the same tasks done. Or perhaps relearning a different set tools just to be able to do what you had been able to do originally. The actual porting of your data is another large hurdle that needs to be passed. Because in some instances the customer can’t reasonable port large quaintness of data by email, so the compliance of having the right in your first service provider and the right hook-up for your new provider needs to be run smoothly, let alone how the data is formatted. One reason sending the data by the internet is troublesome is there are security concerns that need to be considered when porting data over any public connection, even one that would encrypted.

So interoperability is an important step in being able to port your data as a Cloud service customer, and being a viable strengthening company in the current climate one often needs to move your services from one cloud to another, or to an in-house server.