What is Cloud Encryption?

Introduction

In today’s era where all the data is online, there is the main question of data privacy. The continuous transfer of data from digital devices and applications have raised more possibilities of risks and vulnerabilities.

The cases regarding data breaches have been increasing and it has severely affected many organizations and their customers. One of the popular examples is Equifax where millions of its customers were affected.

So, today we will discuss Cloud Encryption which is one of the most effective methods to protect our data. Cloud providers provide cloud storage and the users can access it remotely.

With the help of Cloud Technology, users can upload and retrieve their data easily. But, unfortunately, public cloud providers do not offer robust data protection options as compared to private clouds.

Literature Survey

Paper — A Survey on Cloud Security Issues and Challenges with Possible Measures

Cloud Computing is a growing internet based computing service that is depended upon computing resources apart from local servers or any personal system which is responsible for storing and accessing the data and applications on the internet. This survey paper mainly focuses the security issues and the challenges that are in the Cloud. The topics included in the paper are attacks, threats, vulnerability and challenges that will fail the performance of the Cloud domain. While adopting Cloud Computing the issues like security, privacy, integrity and trust issues are some of the key issues.

What is cloud encryption?

Cloud encryption is the technique or an encoding process of transforming the data before it is transferred into cloud storage. Thus, encryption uses mathematical logic and techniques to transform our data (plain text) into an unreadable form (ciphertext). It will keep the data secure from unauthorized access and malicious users.

Cloud Encryption is considered as one of the important techniques which ensure that the data residing in the cloud cannot be accessed or stolen from any third party user.

The Cloud storage providers encrypt the data and deliver the encryption keys to the users. These keys are kept safely by the users to decrypt the data. Decryption is the process where will transform the ciphertext into plain text (original form).

The data which is encrypted is of three types. They are as follows:

· Data-in-Transit

· Data-at-Rest

· Data-in-Use

Data-in-Transit

Data-in-Transit

Data-in-Transit: Data-In-Transit is also known as data that is in motion. It is the data that is being travelled from one location to another. Let us consider an example when we move data from a laptop or system by using LAN then we are performing data transfer within us.

Simultaneously, if we perform transactions in a distributed database then the data is transferred between multiple parties. You can take the example of blockchain where the data transfer is done in multiple blocks and between an unspecified amount of users or parties.

Data-at-Rest

Data-at-Rest

Data-at-Rest means that the data is stored at some location without being used or transferred anywhere. It includes database servers system folders and any physical or logical storage device.

Data-in-Use

Data-in-Use

Data-in-Use means that the data is not simply stored but is also accessed and processed by one or multiple applications. It means that data is always in the processor at risk of being updated, appended, erased.

These types of data are at risk of threats and vulnerabilities. This type of data is very difficult to encrypt because in many cases it will crash the application.

Methods of Cloud Encryption

There are two possible methods to encode and decode the data and they are known as encryption algorithms. Below, we have mentioned the cloud encryption methods and they are as follows:

  1. Symmetric Algorithm
Symmetric Algorithm

In a Symmetric Algorithm, the encryption and decryption keys are the same and therefore it is popular among individual users and closed systems. These keys are used to secure the connection and it is also known as a secret key algorithm and mostly it is used for encrypting the bulk data. It is easy and quick to implement than the asymmetric algorithm method.

2. Asymmetric Algorithm

Asymmetric Algorithm

It is the second encryption technique where two keys i.e. public and private are mathematically linked together to encrypt the data. Therefore, it is known as an asymmetric algorithm because the keys are paired with each other but these keys are not the same. In an Asymmetric Algorithm, the private key should be kept hidden and secretive but the public key can be shared with anyone.

Why is Cloud Encryption is Required?

Cloud Encryption is required because the main aim is to secure and protect confidentiality. The best method to evaluate the security and privacy status of an organization is through the CIA (Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability) Triad.

The traditional practice of information technology only focuses on data availability and integrity. IT never focused on data confidentiality and that’s y organizations should use cloud encryption.

Along with that encryption is just not only the technique to protect the data and maintain its confidentiality. If we discuss more deeply digital data is meant to be travelled and encryption is required to perform the transmission securely.

Users want to be assured that their data is secure while they are using the application or transmitting the data. They don’t want their data to be accessed by any malicious user or by a hacker.

Advantages of Cloud Encryption

1. Complete Data Protection

When the data is stored or being transferred that’s where the encryption works. It is an ideal solution for all types of data. When the data is being transferred then it is most prone to vulnerabilities. Thus, encryption will help you to resolve this security issue.

2. Privacy Protection

Encryption is the process of protecting sensitive data like personal information, banking details of individual users. It allows the privacy and confidentiality of surveillance done by cybercriminals.

3. Part of Compliance

Encryption is the main tool to share and save data as it will also comply with the restrictions that are proposed by the organization. These standards and regulations include the following:

· FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards)

· FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act)

· HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996)

· PCI/DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)

4. Multiple Device Protection

The data transfer takes place between multiple devices which pose high risk and vulnerability. Thus, encryption will help to safeguard the data across several devices.

Cloud Encryption Best Practices

It is the main priority of any organization to secure its data. One should follow some preventive measures while encrypting the data which will strengthen security and privacy. The following encryption tips and practices help to protect and keep the data secure in the cloud.

Firstly, the organization should encrypt their data before uploading it to the cloud. It is the best practice to encode the data beforehand if the cloud providers do not automatically encrypt the data.

Organizations can take the help of external encryption tools which provide encryption keys for the files so that the data gets encrypted before uploading into the cloud.

The second best practice is to back up the data locally. If the data is uploaded on the cloud and gets corrupted or the cloud servers are down due to maintenance the organizations can always use the locally saved versions.

The third tip is to secure the access of data by using cloud cryptography. Cloud cryptography is a tool that will safeguard the cloud computing architecture of an organization.

It will provide an additional layer of encryption layer that is based on the Quantum Direct Key System. In simple words, this information layer will enable safe access to all the users who require cloud services.

The final tip is to use encryption which will protect the data in rest and for data in transit and by using CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker). It is another popular tool that provides a single point of access and visibility control on any cloud application.

The cloud access security broker will facilitate the connections between the generic public cloud applications that are using proxy and API (Application Program Interface) connectors.

Challenges in Cloud Encryption

1. Data Loss

It is one of the main challenges in encryption if the user loses his decryption keys and does not maintain the backup copies then there is a data loss.

2. Encryption Functions

While using encryption the key is mainly a password that is used by a user. Human passwords are easier to hack but using Advance Encryption Standard (AWS-256) involves lengthy random keys that are difficult to hack.

3. Encryption Complexity

For regular users, some encryption applications are very complicated and this may result in using it improperly. And, this could result in failing to encrypt the data that they want to secure. The complexity of encryption also increases the processing time on the computer. If the encoding is complicated then the process is longer.

Conclusion

As there are several issues with cloud encryption but the organizations should make it a need. Security professionals always agree that encryption in the cloud is a crucial step to protect the information.

Cloud Service Providers have started to provide multiple encryption techniques or applications to fit the data protection requirements.

Organizations should take advantage of cloud encryption provided by several vendors to protect the organization from risks.

Further Study Suggestions

Multiple Cloud Security standards are being proposed and developed by standard bodies. They are as follows:

  1. Cloud Security Alliance (CSA)
  2. International Organization for Standards (ISO)
  3. National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)

Along with that one can also study about multiple cryptography algorithms used in Cloud Computing. They are as follows:

  1. DES Algorithm
  2. RSA Algorithm
  3. Homomorphic Algorithm

References