Securing Data in a Public Cloud Environment



In the public cloud, securing company data is the number one concern for most organizations. Cloud data security rests on both the company and the public cloud provider such as Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure. This is what’s known as the shared security or shared responsibility model.

The Shared Responsibility Model

A company or public cloud provider cannot completely outsource all responsibility when it comes to security. This is the essence of the shared responsibility model. It relies on both parties to take care of their individual portions of cloud security. The three types of cloud computing (which all bring separate responsibilities) are Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

The Responsibilities of the Customer and the Vendor

SaaS – The vendor is responsible for the environment therefore they handle nearly all security controls. Customers control the data that moves in and out of the service, while having limited access to security controls.

IaaS – The vendor is responsible just for the security of the service’s foundations. The customer must configure the security system and maintain it. Organizations are just paying for the infrastructure, which places limited responsibility on the vendor.

PaaS – Scaling is carried out by the vendor, but the customer must build and configure secure apps. This is the middle ground when it comes to the amount of security responsibility placed on the head of the customer. All code is under the control of the customer. The vendor has no access to it.

Why the Public Cloud is the Safest Option

  • Public cloud servers tend to use the latest cloud data security technology and implement the newest updates. Every customer that joins gets the same level of updated security.
  • Public cloud providers know that a security breach would be catastrophic to their reputation. Therefore, they employee highly qualified technical staff.
  • You can outsource some of the security responsibility when needed. This provides a great deal of flexibility that a company would not have in a private cloud environment.

What Companies Need to Think About

The public cloud can’t work unless the customer understands their responsibilities as much as the vendor. It is critical that a company fully understands the degree of security exposure they may have in the public cloud. This is includes customer data storage, identity access management and data loss prevention.

Second, you need to think about your right to audit security. Confirm that you do maintain this right, and ensure it appears in the contract. This is not a direct audit. Few public cloud companies would allow a physical audit. Instead, it’s an independent audit performed using the Service Organization Controls (SOC) standard, although other regulatory standards are available.

Basic security controls remain the most crucial consideration when investing in the public cloud. If a hacker accesses the control panel from your side, there’s nothing you or the vendor can do. Many attacks happen because hackers gain access to API keys.


Install a strong anti-virus program, utilize multi-factor authentication, and conduct regular security reviews to keep everything up to date. The public cloud is an incredible asset to any company. Understand your responsibilities and invest today to keep your data safe.