Cloud-based security solutions provide a new approach to cybersecurity. These are third-party solutions that are deployed on the cloud to protect a company’s IT applications. The cloud security provider examines the network traffic for known threat patterns and allows the passage of only safe traffic. It intercepts the attacks in the cloud before they can reach the target company’s data centres or applications. Therefore, in the case of cloud-based security solutions, the responsibility of detecting and mitigating cyberthreats and attacks is shifted from companies to cloud providers, who are better equipped to handle the same.
Advantages of cloud security solutions
- Enhanced protection against DDoS attacks and data breaches: In case of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, the hacker redirects traffic from several sources to the target website server, rendering the system ineffective in responding to legitimate requests by website users. To avoid this issue, cloud security solutions perform real-time scanning and identification of DDoS attacks. When an attack is detected, the system alerts website managers and absorbs the incoming traffic, distributing it across different points of presence. Hence, by moving the point of mitigation to a third-party cloud platform, companies can focus on their core businesses, by outsourcing the complex task of securing every part of their infrastructure from different types of DDoS attacks.
Further, cloud security solutions come with various security protocols that help companies avoid data breach issues. These solutions also give companies the freedom to choose users who can access the data outsourced to the cloud.
- Low operational expense: With a cloud-based security solution, companies can trade an upfront capital expenditure for a much lower recurring operational expense. Such a model can result in significant cost savings given the size of the infrastructure required for protection against cyberattacks.
- Economies of scale benefits: As compared to individual agencies, cloud security providers can build a much larger infrastructure by leveraging the economies of scale that come from protecting many organisations at once.
- Greater compliance with data storage and usage laws: To help avoid data breach and security issues, many regulatory bodies require organisations to abide by the data storage and usage guidelines. Cloud security solutions come with different controls and report generating capabilities that help companies comply with these regulations. Further, these solutions can generate audit trails and detect any data-tampering efforts.
- Round-the-clock support: Cloud security solutions provide a live monitoring facility. Further, to help keep a tab on downtime, these solutions have built-in redundancy and can provide duplicate copies of lost or inaccessible data as well.
- Past experience: The effectiveness of any security solution to respond to attacks is considerably influenced by its past experience in mitigating similar attacks. By defending against attacks directed at many individual organisations over time, cloud security providers can develop significant expertise and experience, from which they can draw insights when dealing with future attacks. This reduces the resolution time and customer impact.
According to research firm Gartner, the worldwide cloud-based security services market will reach $5.9 billion in 2017, up 21 per cent from 2016, and around $9 billion by 2020. The overall growth in the cloud-based security services market will be higher than that in the total information security market.
As per Gartner, email security, web security, and identity and access management (IAM) are the top three cloud security priorities of any organisation. In this regard, mainstream services such as security information and event management (SIEM) and IAM offer the most significant growth potential in the market. In addition, a plethora of new offerings are likely to emerge in segments such as threat intelligence enablement, cloud-based malware sandboxes, cloud-based data encryption, endpoint protection management and web application firewalls.
Further, small and mid-sized businesses are driving the growth in the cloud services market as these businesses are becoming increasingly aware of their vulnerability to security threats. The ease of deployment and management, pay-as-you-consume pricing and simplified features offered by cloud security solutions make this model attractive for small and medium organisations that lack staff resources. These organisations are also realising the fact that cloud deployments help save costs on powering and cooling hardware-based security equipment and data centre floor space.
In terms of investment, research firm Forrester estimates that global spending on cloud-based security systems will reach $3.5 billion by 2021, registering an annual growth rate of 28 per cent during 2016-21. Forrester expects the spending on cloud security gateways to continue to grow significantly and contribute approximately $1.6 billion to the total global cloud security spending in 2021. Further, native platform-as-a-service (PaaS)/infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is expected to jointly account for $1.1 billion of the total spending in 2021. Meanwhile, hypervisor security and centralised cloud security management are expected to account for $0.5 million and $0.3 billion of the total spending respectively.
While spending on cloud security solutions is relatively low today, compared to the total spending on security software, the segment’s rapid growth has been attracting the attention of more traditional security technology vendors which have ventured into this space, independently or through acquisitions.
Cloud security solutions are more flexible, scalable and cost efficient as compared to traditional security systems. These solutions shift the responsibility of safeguarding IT systems from companies to cloud providers, allowing the former to focus on their core businesses.
However, cloud security systems come with their own limitations and challenges. The key among these is the high level of upfront investment required for their deployment, which may not be financially feasible for smaller companies. Further, cloud-based email security systems suffer from drawbacks such as increased bandwidth requirements, loss of physical control on emails and high per user costs. Meanwhile, as threats become more advanced, cloud security providers will have to develop dynamic and self-sustaining automated models in order take pre-emptive measures to reduce the incidence of security breaches and failures. Notwithstanding these challenges, the adoption of cloud-based security solutions is expected to grow significantly in the near future.