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Organizations are increasingly adopting cloud storage as their key data storage mechanism. This pervasive use of cloud services can be attributed to the number of benefits offered by cloud storage including but not limited to ease of scale, storage virtualization, and fault tolerance.
In this article, we discuss two disadvantages of cloud backups namely security and accessibility. We also offer an explanation of how they fall short in each of these aspects and a workaround for each issue.
What is Cloud Back-up?
What is cloud backup? Typical in most organizations, data is replicated in different media for ease of access in the event data recovery is required. The cloud through cloud providers offer off-site cloud backup solutions to organizations accessed through an internet connection.
Cloud services differ from local disk-based backups in that data is sent to a cloud service provider that offers backup services in a managed data center. The choice for the backup strategy, whether incremental, full back up or differential backups depending on the organization’s preference.
While it comes with a basket full of promises and prospects for organizations, cloud-based backups have the following disadvantages.
Data is crucial to the operation of an organization. An organization providing cloud services should ensure that confidentiality, security, and data availability are guaranteed. The following attributes of cloud backup services open up offsite backups to security threats.
Cloud Storage technologies are new compared to traditional approaches such as local backups. This new data backup technology presents administrators with a complex data infrastructure that may be difficult to manage. This skill mismatch may eventually lead to misconfigurations that may lead the organization to potential security risks. To address such an issue, staff members of organization data centers must be adequately trained on cloud technologies. Alternatively, the organization may choose to adopt a comprehensive cloud storage plan.
Another security concern of offsite-backups is that they may be vulnerable to insufficient or lacking data governance. Lack of proper data governance between organizations and the cloud service providers may expose salient organization data to attackers and competitors within the cloud. The issue of data governance may be solved by setting up proper data governance where organizations can set rules on how their data is managed and handled. This may also include security compliance measures that involve planning all aspects of data backup when embarking on using a cloud service provider.
The cloud storage infrastructure, as earlier stated, is relatively new and, therefore, more complex than backups provided by local storage. With access to cloud providers being through an internet connection, cloud services are exposed to a plethora of security attacks that may be hard to mitigate and control. Setting up security controls in this massive infrastructure may be addressed by using a cloud service provider that is open to shouldering the responsibility of cloud storage and security.
Cloud-based backups do not offer data visibility since it is off-site and managed by an entirely different organization. Depending on the service provider and the cost of your cloud storage plan, users have limited visibility of the data and performance of their cloud deployments. This lack of visibility may make proving compliance during audits difficult. This issue may be addressed by using automated tools to monitor backup and recovery activities. Using tools when using the cloud may help monitor backup and recovery activities in the cloud infrastructure.
The cloud backup infrastructure is highly susceptible to cyber security attacks. Its internet-based ecosystem offers perfect conditions for Cyber-attacks to occur. Organizations use cloud providers to back up salient data about the organization that could impact the business processes if disclosed. A common example is the ransomware attack, where an attacker locks information in exchange for monetary compensation. To secure against cyberattacks, providers must ensure that access controls are well managed on the cloud infrastructure. Organizations using the cloud should ensure that access to information is well managed.
Many organizations have set up incident management responses in the event of attacks or data breaches. These internal incident controls serve well in situations where the data is stored in facilities owned by the organization. Cloud platforms suffer from data and operational visibility. Traditional tools and practices are rendered ineffective, increasing the organization’s reliance on data extraction tools provided by the cloud. A shared responsibility model helps address this by stipulating the security obligations of each of the parties to ensure accountability.
Organizations adopting a cloud backup may be vulnerable to denial of service attacks, where data availability is compromised. This frustrates the recovery efforts as the data stored by the cloud service provider would not be available on demand. An organization operating on the cloud may replicate clusters of data stored in the cloud to mitigate this.
The second disadvantage of cloud backups is accessibility. Cloud services are accessed through web browsers or organizations’ information systems through well-defined Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). For organizations that use a full backup strategy, this may increase latency during uploads and data recovery. Cloud backup service clients may get around this by adopting a more flexible backup strategy such as incremental and differential backups when using cloud storage.
Cloud-based backups offer a complex infrastructure that may be difficult to use by non-technical experts. For users not adept with technology and associated jargon, utilizing the services provided by the cloud services providers may prove difficult. With developers increasingly adopting cloud deployment services, this complexity may soon be abstracted from the non-technical user. This will also go a long way in addressing the existent skill gap in cloud technologies.
Cloud backup services suffer from bandwidth bottlenecks that may increase the cost and time required to perform cloud backup. These bandwidth limitations may cause an organization relying on the cloud for backup and recovery to incur more downtime costs as the process of data extraction is slow. A walk around this is through load balancing, data compression, or limiting the amount of data transmitted in the pipe at a time to ensure affordable bandwidths.
Currently, most organizations adopt cloud technologies with the promise of flexible data management. Most cloud platforms frustrate the accessibility of these cloud benefits by charging high premium rates that small organizations cannot foot. Recently there has been a surge in organizations providing cloud services, this has availed variance to clients on the cloud plan to choose from.
Why Cloud Backups Aren’t Bad
The above discussion points out the disadvantages of cloud with respect to security and accessibility. While these issues are salient and cannot be compromised or ignored, the benefits outweigh the costs. Most cloud platforms in addition to basic data backup and recovery, offer analytical processing tools that may be used to track the backup and recovery activities. More than ever, more cloud platforms are now reviewing their security and accessibility strategies.
Through cloud backups, organizations have realized many benefits and unlocked new potentials for their businesses. Compared to legacy storage and backup systems, cloud backup is relatively new and more dynamic and therefore subject to misunderstanding and operational issues. Cloud repositories remain a promising prospect for many organizations and individuals, this is for the ease of scale and the flexibility it offers to organizations as it is adaptable to the frequently changing business environment.
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