Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources and computing power with no user’s direct management. To some, it’s a new way of running a business; to others, it’s a way of storing data, but in reality, it’s much more than that. While there are many advantages of cloud computing for businesses, such as reduced maintenance costs, minimum capital expenditure, excellent scaling opportunities, agility, flexibility, and data recovery, there are some downsides. Depending on the cloud computing service model, security challenges differ, and so do solutions. Let’s take the IaaS service model, for example. What are some of the worst things that can happen to businesses using IaaS?
What Is Infrastructure as a Service?
Being the most common cloud computing service model, IaaS offers the fundamental virtual servers, networking, operating systems, and data storage – on-demand to enterprises. It represents the virtual equivalent of a traditional data center. Those who decide on the IaaS service model don’t have to own any personal hardware or manage its components. It is all managed by the service provider. And they pay for it on a usage basis – with pay-as-you-go payment options. Furthermore, businesses can easily deploy their apps on IaaS. Organizations can deploy their own virtual machines, workloads, and apps on top of the hypervisor layer – in the region and availability zone of their choice. IaaS key features include an enterprise-grade infrastructure, OPEX, flexible features, ease-of-use, and virtual management. There are additional services like performance and usage monitoring, load balancing, and scaling. This makes IaaS ideal for small and medium-sized organizations that look for a cost-effective IT solution.
Not a single system is entirely safe, and there will always be security issues to address. Some of the most crucial security challenges of IaaS are listed below.
Service Level Agreement (SLA) Issues
Using SLAs guarantees the acceptable level of quality of service (QoS). An SLA contains contract definition, negotiation, monitoring, and enforcement. Contract definition and negotiation are essential to determine the benefits and responsibilities of both sides. Any ambiguity in SLA will leave a client exposed to vulnerabilities since it will affect the system’s security.
Platform Virtualization Issues
This component allows for faster scaling and is one of the fundamental parts of cloud computing. Every virtual machine (VM) should remain in isolation and not have access to other virtual disks, memory, or apps on the same host. When the communication between a VM and a host happens, attackers might exploit some features and gain access to data transfers. Sysadmin could also take advantage of the position and exploit the features.
Computer Hardware Issues
The IaaS interface is stored in distributed physical resources, such as network components, CPUs, and other storage devices. Even though service providers keep the physical components in a secured area, about 70% of attacks happen within the organization. If the attacker physically reaches the machine, two things could happen, depending on their intentions:
Denying service by shutting the machine down.
Accessing the machine to steal or corrupt data.
There are no perfect solutions to issues that might occur in evolving systems. Service providers need to do their best to keep track of new security solutions and implement them if necessary.
Service Level Agreement (SLA) Solution
To ensure the proper service and trust between the providers and clients, SLA needs to be monitored, together with QoS. Proper monitoring and enforcement of SLA could be delegated to a third party.
Platform Virtualization Solution
Since IaaS is a shared environment, it needs a precise configuration to keep the VMs isolated. Cloud service providers need to work on securing their VMs, and a Trusted Virtual Datacenter can help. TVDc solves both infrastructure and management security problems. It enforces control access schemes on the network, based on security labels and management prototype. It acts as a closed box that prevents tampering or inspecting any content that circulates.
Computer Hardware Solution
The possibility of an attacker shutting down the machine can be minimized by keeping strict control over who has access to the location. When it comes to stealing or corrupting data, the recommended solution is encryption, using both the session ID and the user’s ID for key management.
Other Disadvantages of IaaS
Other issues that happen with IaaS are provider outages, permanent data loss, the vulnerability of applications, lack of expertise. To solve these, companies must focus on staff training. Providers must ensure data and network encryption, use the Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) tool that identifies data risks, and monitor/audit the anomalies.
Cloud computing is a new way of storing data and running platforms and apps. Infrastructure as a Service is one of three service models of cloud computing, and it has its advantages and disadvantages. While many businesses turn to IaaS, some tend to ignore the other side of the coin. Paying attention to the SLA will ensure both sides are satisfied while the service runs. Virtual Machines can be kept safe with control access schemes such as access control lists (ACLs). Physically located data storage should be kept secured using proper encryption keys. With the implementation of these recommended solutions, Infrastructure as a Service becomes a safe place where businesses can thrive.