Cloud ERP security - what are the advantages? Companies are increasingly relying on cloud hosting for ERP and other enterprise software. While companies are often attracted to the cloud by lower costs and convenience, the cloud also offers significant advantages in cybersecurity protection when compared to traditional corporate network and hybrid solutions. Cloud ERP security benefits include network management by specialized personnel, automated patching, enhanced monitoring, access controls, protection from large scale attacks, and the latest encryption standards.
A recent security experiment emphasized why local corporate networks are so hard to protect. In a research study by Google and two universities, 300 USB drives were distributed around a college campus. Many of these USB drives were picked up within minutes and nearly half were plugged into a computer, thereby providing an opening for potential malicious software stored on the USB drive. If IT employees were impacted instead of college students, each USB drive could be a hacking weapon striking directly into the heart of a corporate security system.
Whether it’s malicious USB drives or someone sweet-talking their way into the server room, the threats of hacking attempts on physical premises are real. Fortunately, for companies who rely primarily on cloud hosting, there is increased protection against these types of threats.
Cloud vs hybrid ERP and local data centers
The rapid evolution of cybersecurity attacks has increased the challenges for companies maintaining on-premise data centers. To understand this, it's helpful to look at the security posture for hardware, software, and personnel in a typical hosting facility.
For good security, it's crucial to restrict who can enter and leave a building. There may be physical tags on people and equipment to track changes in location and interactions between person and machine. Each person will have undergone background checks and ongoing monitoring. Employee access to computer networks will be managed through additional single sign on security measures.
few companies have the ability to hire top security experts and invest in a network infrastructure that has a security posture equivalent to the best companies in the industry
All hardware will be tagged and tracked. The low level software running switches, firewalls, and other network equipment needs to be monitored and updated promptly with software updates. Specialized security software may be licensed to detect and respond to intrusions on the network.
To protect the data center, there might be multiple security teams responsible for physical assets, personnel security, and software maintenance. Each group will need to study best practices from the industry and communicate regularly with peers and security experts to incorporate new strategies whenever a vulnerability is reported or discovered.
The complexities of managing local data centers are challenging, and few companies have the ability to hire top security experts and invest in a network infrastructure that has a security posture equivalent to the best companies in the industry.
Cloud ERP security advantages
When using software hosted in the cloud, the logistical overhead of managing security becomes much lighter because the cloud hosting provider handles the physical security of the software systems.
The cloud provider will have installed their own systems for automated detection of suspicious activity. Any suspected intrusions are immediately analyzed and responded to according to predefined procedures, whether that's a mysterious IP address that's scanning ports, a discrepancy in DNS records, or an influx in packet requests. In aggregate across thousands or millions of customers, the cloud provider has the opportunity to monitor trillions of transactions for suspicious behavior and learn quickly about any new threat.
The upside for the cloud customer is that their attack surface area has immediately decreased
The upside for the cloud customer is that their attack surface area has immediately decreased. They benefit without needing to lift a finger and the cost is built into the fees of the service. This allows the customer's IT staff to focus on the remaining areas of vulnerability such as application level security and employee access.
Software updates in the cloud
One of the most challenging tasks for IT teams is updating software. Any delays in installing updates can leave open security holes for hackers to penetrate. For example, Equifax saw its business get clobbered as a result of a massive breach when their software development team failed to install a critical security patch for Apache Struts. Hospitals attacked by ransomware have experienced weeks of hobbled systems due to their failure to install updates to the Windows operating system. The reality is that installing new software is time consuming and often takes a backseat to other priorities.
The cloud provider provides a number of options for making software updates easier. Customers can take advantage of managed and shared server architectures in which operating system updates and security patches are installed in the background. In many cases, application level software is also managed by the cloud provider and updated seamlessly.
Handling large scale attacks
One of the areas where cloud providers have the biggest advantage is in responding to denial of service attacks. A denial of service attack occurs when a malicious individual or group builds an army of coordinated but individually isolated pieces of software that send Internet requests to a single destination. The sheer volumes of requests have brought down some of the biggest websites on the Internet. Cloud providers maintain distributed and synchronized data centers around the globe that provides a natural defense. Additionally, they maintain dedicated teams and equipment to specifically respond to denial of service attacks quickly and at scale. While limited service downtime may still occur, in most cases the damage is far less than if services were hosted locally.
Encryption and compliance
Cloud providers offer a number of tools to make it easier to implement good security practices. One key concept in security is the encryption of data in transit and at rest. Cloud ERP security tools implement HTTPs for internet traffic and SDKs for encryption at the application level. Encryption for storage may include default database options, specialized tools for private key encryption of stored data, and default encryption options for file storage.
One key concept in Cloud ERP security is the encryption of data in transit and at rest
The cloud can be a big help for companies that need to adhere to regulatory compliance, such as PCI for credit card transactions and HIPAA for personal healthcare data. Many cloud ERP providers supply templates to save time and effort in adhering to security compliance requirements. A few clicks in a cloud provider's administrative interface can save hundreds of hours of manual implementation time.
abas software in the cloud
A system like abas ERP, which is available as Software as a Service (SaaS) hosted in the cloud, provides customers with a wide range of benefits. This solution allows customers to connect from any internet-connected web browser or device. With the SaaS model, users will be constantly up to date with the latest version of the software. And since all server maintenance is done remotely by abas staff, the SaaS service frees up customer IT staff for other projects.
Thanks to the cloud, it’s easy for enterprises to take advantage of the latest in technological capabilities while also maintaining a strong security defense.