Remote work has proven the value of both the public cloud and the ability to access data from anywhere, on almost any device. The public cloud has become so ubiquitous that it may make it seem like private cloud security has become obsolete.
This is far from the case. With data privacy laws and industry regulations, the private cloud—and private cloud security—are an important part of any company's network infrastructure. And how security in the private cloud is managed could be the difference between data compliance and a major cyber security headache.
What is the private cloud?
The private cloud is just that—private to your company. The owner does not share the environment or resources with any other company. Private cloud servers are often on-premises and managed by an in-house IT team, but they can also be in an external data center or managed by a third-party cloud provider. It is that one-tenant environment that makes it different from the public cloud, which is a shared service.
Private cloud benefits and costs
Because the organization is in control of the cloud architecture, it can be built specifically for its needs. This allows the organization to control all aspects of the cloud, such as who has access, private cloud security and governance of data. This is especially important for industries like healthcare and finance that are strictly regulated.
Yet the private cloud also offers many of the benefits of the public cloud, including scaling to your organizational needs and easy accessibility across multiple devices and off-site locations. IT leadership can also decide exactly what resources are needed in their private cloud, expanding or limiting options and applications as needed. It offers independence, which isn't always an option in a public cloud.
While there are a lot of pluses to the private cloud, there is a cost upfront to get started. The hardware and automation may not be affordable to smaller businesses. The good news is there are different options available for private clouds that may make it more affordable to get started, including:
- Hosted: Uses a cloud provider, but no services are shared with any other organization as they are with a public cloud.
- Managed: Similar to the hosted private cloud, but the provider manages all aspects of the environment. This is a popular option for companies that want a private cloud but don't have the inside resources to manage it.
- Virtual: The private cloud is run in an isolated virtual environment. This option is used most in hybrid cloud formats.
Security in the private cloud: The basics
One of the biggest differences between the public cloud and the private cloud is that in the private cloud, you always know who is in charge of security. In the public cloud, there is a division of security labor between the provider and the client, too often with expectations that the provider will do more than contractually required to protect data. In the private cloud, the organization is in charge of security. Cyber criminals are after assets in the cloud, according to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), with nearly a quarter of all breaches involving the cloud. The problem across formats is credential stuffing, with 77% of cloud breaches involving compromised credentials.
When there is sensitive data to protect or data that comes under strict regulations, utilizing a private cloud for security purposes makes the most sense. There are fewer outsiders, if any, who will have access to the cloud, and the organization is in total control of the security protocols used. The organization picks the type of firewall and whether there will be edge or zero-trust security tools used, for example. However, this also means a greater level of responsibility for security since there isn't a provider who will be handling infrastructure vulnerabilities. There will be a need for having someone available who is adept with cloud security practices and also able to relay security awareness training throughout the company.