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The Continued Growth of SaaS and the Cloud Has Complicated Cybersecurity
The Continued Growth of SaaS and the Cloud Has Complicated Cybersecurity
8/21/2017

The continued development of Internet based technology has improved productivity, cut costs and pushed innovation throughout the world of business. From locally owned storefronts to multi-national enterprises, technology such as SaaS and the Cloud continues to pay dividends. While on one hand this continued development allows for often unforeseen benefits by a company, there are several negative aspects to the whirlwind growth. This comes in the form of cybersecurity. Internet security professionals face an uphill battle with the constant need to boost security measures in order to safeguard corporate networks from external threats. Both SaaS and the use of the Cloud can lead to substantial security flaws, which is why understanding how the two Internet technology complicate cybersecurity is essential for any size business utilizing these resources. 

The Connection Between SaaS and Cloud Computing

What affects software as a service (SaaS) and Cloud computing affects the other, so briefly going over the interaction between the two is important. In its most basic terms, cloud computing is broken down into three different categories. These three are infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (Paps) and SaaS. Because SaaS is in reality cloud computing, the cybersecurity requirements affecting one will likely affect the other. 

SaaS allows a company to run applications over a network via a data center. This makes it easier to maintain hardware without installing expensive equipment at every work station. It also cuts application licensing costs, improves support speed and makes it possible to access the applications wherever there is a cloud based connection. Due to this, a cyber security breach within SaaS affects the cloud computing of an organization in its entirety (Tech Target, 2014). 

The Evolution of Cybersecurity Due to Cloud Computing

Back when the vast majority of corporate information remained within the private enterprise network, security measures revolved around the use of firewalls and switching services. However, internal networks no longer provide the freedom and monetary saving opportunities as using cloud based networks. Firewalls are, in a sense, a defensive wall around a stationary data network. Because the Cloud is in constant motion, a stationary firewall no longer provides the same kind of security benefits. Due to this, Cloud computing has forced the hand of cybersecurity and pushed it towards new safeguarding measures. 

Cybersecurity still maintains a need for these quickly dating forms of Internet protection, but the need for continued encryption and anti-malware services is proving more vital now than in the history of cloud cybersecurity. Encryption continues, although these improvements are focused within the encryption algorithms in order to make the protected information more difficult to gain access to and view correctly. The real evolution in cloud cybersecurity is in that of anti-malware. Due to the continued development of new malware and methods for seeking out vulnerabilities within the protected network, anti-malware developers must remain ahead of those who would implement the destructive programming (EY: Cybersecurity and the Internet of Things, 2015). 

The Fall of Firewalls

Since the creation of the Internet and the need for Internet security protocols, a server firewall has proven to be a main line of defense, both for the average consumer and for private networks at the corporate level. However, with the shift to cloud computing and off-site data storage facilities, firewalls are becoming less viable security measures. In the traditional sense, a firewall analyzes connected IP addresses and grants access to specific protocols and requests made both internally and externally.

Some firewalls have seen updates in recent years, including the ability to identify specific applications, protocols and packet inspections, but the major problem here is the wide scale access of Cloud computing. While using the cloud, access requests can literally come from everywhere. Many cloud security vendors are now providing access controls, which more or less provides a similar access security protocol as a firewall, without limiting the freedom of an approved user to access desired data from a variety of devices. Due to this, corporate networks relying on firewall systems to provide the majority of Cloud cybersecurity will find it increasingly difficult to safeguard itself against growing external threats. 

Cloud Computing Causing a Shift in Anti-Malware Development

Anti-malware applications and security measures have traditionally been used within localized networks. At the corporate level, the cybersecurity feature would be utilized within the closed, private network, preventing direct attacks on a company's Internet connection. However, more and more companies are moving data storage away from localized networks to off-location facilities, such as Cloud computing services. Due to this, anti-malware must protect more information within one location. The increased reliance on off-site anti-malware makes selecting the right Cloud computer service provider a matter of not only selecting the right Cloud provider but also the service with the greatest level of security protocols. As for corporations implementing on-site Cloud computing (instead of using a third party provider), maintaining and updating anti-malware applications capable of working with all three entities of Cloud computing, including SaaS has become more crucial than ever before (National Cyber Security Institute Organization, 2015). 

The Technological Shift in Cloud Cybersecurity

The shift in data storage from a closed network to both on and off-site Cloud service providers now requires a technological shift in security measures. While firewalls are starting to phase out (although some companies using on-site Cloud services may keep firewalls in place for the time being), companies utilizing load balancers may also face decisions in how to shift security protocols. The ability to handle and distribute network traffic not only prevents a website from being overloaded with faulty requests (which can completely shut down the network due to these fraudulent requests) but it helps identify potential parts of malware attempting to enter the network undetected. These are vital features to load balancers, yet many of the services provided by load balancers is not built right into a Cloud service provider's off-site infrastructure. 

For companies utilizing off-site Cloud services, there may no longer be a need to invest in load balancers, while companies building and maintaining Cloud services on-site will need to look for ways to update the balancers and bring in new security protocols to protect the network while updating how it approves and distributes network traffic. This likely means the need to completely rewrite cloud architecture while updating security applications (such as some SaaS applications) installed on and used with the load balancers (Tech Crunch, 2016). 

The need to implement new cloud cybersecurity measures in order to protect against external threats is nothing new and the need for new protective barriers will continue onward. Understanding how the continued growth of SaaS and the Cloud affects cybersecurity should open the eyes of executives and business owners everywhere. While IT departments around the globe struggle to keep security measures up to date and current for the modern technology, cyber criminals push and probe for weaknesses within the network as well. Due to this, proper protocol for cloud cybersecurity and rolling out new technology within the network must be established within a corporation, in order to reduce the chance of these external threats infiltrating a supposedly secure business.