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Cloud Security vs. Network Security: Which is Best for your SME?

Introduction  

Being in cybersecurity line of business and being aware of the issues faced by multiple small to mid-sized businesses, we often come across various jargon which may be unclear to some. One of the most common questions for SMEs is should they focus on cloud security or network security.  

It is hard for SMEs to prioritise their security budget and find affordability with security. To make an informed decision, it’s important to understand the options.

Through this article, we aim to improve the understanding of SMEs when it comes to network security and cloud security. Without further ado, here is everything you need to know about cloud security vs network security.

Network security

What is network security?

It is an umbrella term used for multiple layers of defensive technologies and processes, which includes hardware and software. Network security aims to protect the integrity, confidentiality and accessibility of data on your computer networks. There are three types of network security controls.

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Top Network Security Risks

Network security risks are primarily of four types.

  1. Structured Threats- More organized form of attacks done by an individual or a group of tech-savvy expert hackers to a known victim. The attacked network is either specifically chosen or is identified through a random search. There can be many motives behind a structured threat such as ransom, government-sponsored attacks, extortion, politics, and international terrorism. The SolarWinds supply chain attack can be considered as a type of structured threat.
  1. Unstructured Threats- As the name suggests, these are disorganised attacks on unknown networks. The perpetrators in an unstructured threat can be either amateurs or people with limited hacking skills and hence are often called script kiddy. Most of the time, these attacks lack a strong intent or motive. For example, Trojan horse attacks that come along with downloads or install via online games or internet applications in order to reach target computers.
  1. External Threats- The threats perpetrated from outside an organisation by individuals who do not have permission to access the company network are called external threats in network security. It could be a structured attack, targeting one or more employees inside the organisation. For example social engineering attacks are a type of external threats.  
  1. Internal Threats-  Internal threats arise from within the organisation, by people who have authorized access to the company network. Attackers usually are either unhappy, disgruntled, or opportunistic employees of the organisation.

To handle the network security threats, vulnerabilities and attacks various solutions are available today:

Network Security Solutions

Cloud Security

What is cloud security?

Well, technically cloud-based cybersecurity falls under the umbrella term network security. It is also known as cloud computing security. This includes a set of policies, procedures and technologies that coordinate together to provide threat protection in cloud-based data, infrastructure and systems. There are three types of cloud environment namely public, private and hybrid cloud.

 

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Cloud security offers many benefits including centralised protection, cost reduction due to absence of dedicated hardware, reduced need for administrative staff, having data hosted in the data centre for eternity, minimal downtime, easy access to data from anywhere and easy scalability.  

Top cloud security Risks

Here are some common threats looming over cloud security along with cloud security risk management techniques:

  1. Access Management: A big risk involved in cloud security is access management. Poor access management provides an entry point for attackers to get inside the cloud. For solving this security concern, use Multi-Factor-Authentication or MFA for adding a layer of security to the access. Differentiate access privileges for different employees, departments, stakeholders etc.  
  1. Data Breach and Data Leaks: Due to the flow of large volumes of data among employees and cloud systems, it becomes vulnerable to interceptions by hackers on the move. The confidential information leaks can then be subject to sale in the black market for money or used for ransoms. For mitigating this, organisations can use MFA, perimeter firewall between public and private network, internal firewall and data-at-rest encryption.  
  1. Insecure APIs: In cases where APIs are shared with the cloud storage providers, developers, third-parties, etc. who get access to the organisations’ data and forget to follow the best practices, pose substantial threat. It opens more possibilities for attackers to stumble upon the APIs created without authentication and plan a malicious attack. To resolve this, choosing the right cloud security vendor is of paramount importance. Vendors that follow OWASP Security best practices should be trusted.  
  1. DDoS Attacks: Cloud-based data is also susceptible to denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) that prevent users from accessing the resources by overloading the workflow. To dodge DDoS attacks, a solid intrusion detection system needs to be installed that can send alert warning based on suspicious behaviour.  

TLDR;

Summing Up

While picking a side in a debate on cloud vs network security, or deciding which one should you focus on as an SME, there is one simple answer. It depends on where the balance of your IT lies. If your organisation has more infrastructure then network security should be your top priority. If you are a small team with limited resources and infrastructure, go for a specialisation in cloud security. In the end, both work together to secure an organisation from a multitude of threats out there today.  

Looking for easy to implement cloud security solutions for Office 365? Contact us now to get tailored plans for securing your organisation!

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