More questions around cyber security and the safety of the cloud arose this week when it was revealed that the personal information of almost 200 million citizens had been left exposed for anyone to access on the Internet. More than a terabyte worth of personal details such as home addresses, phone numbers, and even voter registration details, collected by the US-based conservative data firm Deep Root, were stored on the Amazon cloud server, and were publicly accessible via a URL.  According to the firm, the data was left exposed after an update to their security system. A simple mistake, easily preventable, and yet it’s evident that the necessary procedures in place to mitigate these breaches in security were lacking.


The news of the Deep Root leak made international headlines because of the scale of the leak and the magnitude of the political ramifications, however, they are certainly not the first and only firm to have a lackadaisical attitude towards storing and protecting its data.  Major leaks from big companies or organisations, from Yahoo, to Target, and even the NHS, have all been the centre of media scrutiny in the past, and it seems fresh news of data security breaches are hitting our newsstands almost weekly. According to a recent survey by Thread Stack, 73% of companies (out of the 200 surveyed) have at least one critical security misconfiguration that would leave their environment vulnerable and wide open to the Internet. If that weren't cause enough for concern, firms are also paying the price, quite literally, for their passive approach to security and data-encryption. Some disgruntled clients who have had their sensitive information stolen or exposed are demanding compensation, and are filing class action lawsuits, with the pay-outs sometimes ranging in the millions, leaving smaller firms with no choice but to close down. A hefty price to pay for a mistake so easily avoidable with the right procedures set up by those with the appropriate skills and experience.


Even though sensitive information was left exposed on the web for anyone to access, human error and lack of procedures should not put people off using cloud-based systems and services.  Additionally, on-premise hardware is not any less likely to be subject to security errors and oversights.The reality is, thousands of firms are currently using cloud-based systems, and realistically the numbers are only going to increase. Cloud platforms allow for several benefits, like flexibility in the cost of backup solutions, and the ability to process large amounts of data more cost effectively than traditional physical hardware. They also have the further benefit of exercising more granular control and auditing of the security.


Nonetheless, using the cloud is only profitable if the necessary procedures are set up correctly and with security in mind. A bit like an Ikea flat pack, servers like AWS give you the tools to build an infrastructure, however, assembling it so it lasts long-term, is efficient, and doesn’t crumble under duress, is up to you. If the object you’re building is something small, like a side table, doing it yourself doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Yet, if we think on a much larger scale, say a wardrobe, suddenly security, longevity and efficiency are at the top of your priorities. The consequences of inexperience are simply not worth the risk, which should be taken seriously. When using a cloud-based platform like AWS, numerous processes should be put in place to limit the chances of a safety breach. Simply relying on AWS or Microsoft to provide the level of security needed to avoid breaches and mistakes from occurring is simply not enough.  Even Ian Massingham, Amazon Web Services' (AWS) chief evangelist for Europe, Middle East and Africa, has stated that AWS are "not the owners or custodians of the data - we just supply the resources" adding. "we don't control how the data is protected, customers do".  Essentially, AWS cannot be held accountable in the event of a leak if the client didn't build the necessary infrastructure and processes to maintain and protect the data stored within its system. It boils down to who is responsible for the security within the cloud (the client) and who is responsible for the security of the cloud (AWS).


Keeping this in mind, Hentsū helps build secure infrastructure for its clients by storing it behind multiple layers within the AWS platform or any other cloud platform. Each layer securely locked and accessible only through specific security requirements, such as location access, trusted devices passwords, and two-factor authentication. Doing this minimises the chances of simple and avoidable mistakes leaving data vulnerable and exposed on the web. Cloud-based platforms can only run efficiently if the correct infrastructure is built within them. For those firms who do not possess the knowledge and experience to correctly set up secure procedures within a cloud platform, Hentsū can ensure the correct systems are in place to minimise the circumstances in which a breach in security could occur.


Questions around the protection of data and secure servers will always be relevant. By taking the necessary steps and ensuring secure procedures are in place as a safety net, there should be no reason to fear cloud-based platforms. Most importantly, you need to be confident that your systems were built to run by experts with the experience and knowledge in constructing secure servers and databases. Minimising human error by setting up and establishing proper security procedures goes a long way in ensuring systems run both efficiently and securely.

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