Is Cloud Hosting Really Less Secure? What you Need to Know

When cloud hosting was first introduced, people assumed that cloud hosting was less secure than other forms of hosting, including onsite server rooms and data centers. In this article, we address these assumptions.

In 2012 and 2013, reputable news sites ran headlines that read “8 Reason To Fear Cloud Computing,” and “Yes, the cloud is dangerous -- here’s how to stay safe.” Of course, people were extremely wary of using this new technology that was being talked about so negatively in the media.

A study was done in 2014 of IT decision makers by BT, 49% said that they are ‘very or extremely anxious’ about the security implications of the cloud.

But many years have gone by, and the cloud still has a reputation for being less secure having around it. Is this reputation warranted or is it merely being punished for its rocky start?

What Is Cloud Hosting?

First, let’s define cloud hosting. Cloud hosting is a service that provides access via a virtual server to a large pool of resources. Users are given these resources on-demand, so it is a great way to manage peak loads efficiently. As a user, you don’t rely just on one server, but on a cluster of servers that work together which are called “the cloud.”

Because there is a team of servers readily available to service your website, you most likely won’t ever experience downtime on your site. It is effortless to scale up or down as needed for your site. At first, cloud hosting was costly, but now it has become relatively affordable and could be a good option for small businesses thanks to its reliability and scalability.

Myth 1: Loss of Control

Initially, the myths that cloud hosting was less secure ran rampant throughout the technical world. Perhaps the paranoia stemmed from the fact that the cloud approach itself felt a bit insecure because you are storing your data and information on servers and systems that you don’t control or own.

However, it is now 2018, and the cloud has come a long way. We are much more trusting of these, but for some reason, cloud hosting is still fighting against its bad rep. The cloud industry, in general, has built their system around providing transparency and security. This system allows you to retain responsibility for your data, but not have to manage everything on your own.

Myth 2: The Noisy Neighbors Effect

The public cloud is a multi-tenant hosting environment so that you will be sharing your space with other users. It can be a cause of concern for some users because they don’t know who their neighbors are and what sort of website they are hosting.

Even though there are many tenants on the server, it doesn’t mean that the cloud server is less secure. A cloud server is not like a shared hosting environment, where a noisy neighbor can affect other tenants.

The experts at Gartner, a world leader in research, has weighed in. Their security experts have said that “38% of companies who don’t plan to use the public cloud cited security and privacy as the main reason. However, companies may be using security/privacy as a scapegoat for fears about relinquishing control over data and a major shift in the status quo of how enterprises are used to operating. ‘There’s been no correlation between security failure and the degree of multitenancy.”

There are many security measures that the cloud hosting providers have put in place to protect you from your neighbors. One such protocol is a VM isolation, which means your virtual network is completely isolated from others on the same machine. These added security measures can help ensure that our data is safe and protected.

Myth 3: Cloud Servers Are More Vulnerable

It doesn’t matter what type of hosting service you have, and there are always going to be vulnerabilities. It is impossible for security to be perfect and the safety of the cloud is reliant on the expertise of the provider and their implementation. Before signing with a cloud host, you should look at their track record to see if they are prone to attacks.

Here are the main issues that do threaten cloud hosting environments:

DDoS attacks. This form of attack is an attempt to make a website unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from various sources. You can add security plugins or add-ons to stop and slow down DDoS attacks.

Malware. Malware is a software that tempts to damage computers and computers systems. It can be detrimental to sensitive data, but you can use security software or plugins to prevent this attack.

Data loss. When data is moved and stored across long distances, you do run the risk of losing the data due to natural causes or a data center going offline. Unfortunately, it is a reality for many website owners at least once. However, as long as you are performing regular backups, you won’t be seriously inconvenienced if data goes missing.

Data breaches. Facebook has been famous for their recent data breaches, but obviously, you want to make sure this doesn't happen to you. Add a two-step authentication step and improve your passwords to avoid a data breach.

You might have noticed that all four of the main issues that affect cloud hosting will also affect a traditional hosting environment as well. The cloud is not any more vulnerable than other forms of hosting such as VPS or shared hosting.

Security Benefits of Cloud Hosting

Using a cloud environment can be great for your website. It is easily scalable, very flexible and is just as secure as other networks.

Here are some of the standard security benefits of cloud servers:
No hardware issues. Unlike traditional users who might have to deal with server maintenance causing their website to go down, cloud users virtually never have any downtime. There is always another server on the cloud network who can run your site.

Other infected sites won’t affect you. The problem with sharing your server with other users is if their website gets affected by malware, yours could too or it could slow down your site. If this happens on the cloud network, once again another server on the network can take over the running of your site, and you will be isolated from the issue.

Instant data mirroring. A mirror or replica of your site can come in handy to help improve the safety of your site and its redundancy.

Today’s cloud hosting is incredibly different from the insecure and untrustworthy plans of years past. Cloud hosting has come along way and continued to improve year after year. While their security is not perfect, a cloud hosting environment is no less secure than a traditional hosting environment. They can offer a safe, reliable solution for your hosting needs and are an ideal step up from a shared hosting plan.

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Lindsey Conger
Lindsey is a freelance writer based out of Chicago who specializes in technology, business, finance, and real estate. Her work has appeared in Forbes, Dwell, and Stackstreet.

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"Is Cloud Hosting Really Less Secure? What you Need to Know"

Is Cloud Hosting Really Less Secure? What you Need to Know