Cloud Computing 101 (1/2)

by | Mar 23, 2023 | Cyber Risk

Cloud computing is the delivery of different computing services through the Internet. These resources include applications and tools like data storage, servers, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence over the cloud (the Internet) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.

Cloud computing is commonly used in the context of cloud-based storage. Rather than keeping files on a proprietary hard drive or local storage device, cloud-based storage makes it possible to save them to a remote database. As long as an electronic device can access the web, it can access the data and the software programs to run it. For several reasons, including cost savings, increased productivity, speed and efficiency, performance, and security, cloud computing is a popular option for individuals and businesses.

Companies that provide cloud services (cloud service providers (CSPs)) enable users to store files and applications on remote servers and access all the data via the Internet. This means that you are not required to be in a specific place to access it, allowing remote work capabilities. It’s important to keep in mind that remote and hybrid work can present cybersecurity risks to the individual and the organization.

Some take advantage of CSPs to help manage security associated with cloud computing. A CSP is a company that provides virtual IT environments for sharing/pooling resources across a client’s network. These resources can include cloud computing and online-based cloud services.

Some common ways you might see cloud services being used include:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – IaaS can be thought of as serverless computing. The CSP will provide you with virtualization, storage, network, and servers off-site, so you do not have to be concerned with physical implications of the components. The CSP maintains these physical components while you access the infrastructure via the Internet. This ‘as-a-service’ model allows you to have virtually complete control over the infrastructure when needed by using an Application Programming Interface (API). Without physically maintaining the infrastructure yourself, you may have more resources for the other matters that need your attention.
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – In this cloud computing model, the CSP provides you with hardware and application software and hosts the infrastructure needed for these resources. An internet connection is all you need to access these resources. This service is typically used among coders and developers because they can develop, execute, and manage their applications without maintaining the physical infrastructure.  
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – SaaS is a cloud computing model that pertains to providing an individual application and the needed infrastructure to the client via the Internet. The CSP manages the cloud environment where the application is hosted. In everyday life, this is the cloud most people will interact with often without even knowing it. 

Cloud computing has become invaluable to many individuals and organizations, from small business owners to large corporations. Companies are leaping to the cloud because it is flexible, cost-efficient, mobile, and more hands-off than a traditional network setup. It also allows people to work together more efficiently, is helpful in disaster recovery, and leaves a smaller carbon footprint by only consuming the energy needed for operations. Like many technologies, these benefits do have associated risks involved. 

To answer some frequently asked questions about the cloud, its benefits, and risks, please see our next blog on the topic. Also, our risk engineers offer one-on-one consultations with Cowbell policyholders. Contact a risk engineer today.

This blog post was written by Cowbell’s Risk Engineers, Phaelan Koock and Soham Turakhia.

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