Cloud computing, a subtype of IaaS, is far ahead of the hype. The use of cloud services by individuals, companies, and governments to avoid the headaches of an on-premise computing stack has become a dominant force.
The cloud is the pinnacle of simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and scalability.
Simply described, cloud computing refers to the practise of using online storage, RAM, CPU, and other computing resources to supplement those that are physically hosted.
Google Drive or Yahoo Mail are two examples from daily life. We entrust these businesses with our data, including sometimes-sensitive personal or professional information.
The average user is typically unconcerned about the security or privacy of cloud computing. But everyone who is at all knowledgeable about the history of monitoring or the most recent sophisticated cyberattacks must be on alert or at the very least aware of the situation.
What exactly is cloud encryption?
Cloud cryptography eliminates this unease by encrypting data kept there to guard against unauthorized access.
The process of utilizing a cipher (algorithm) to transform plaintext into a scrambled version is known as encryption. In such instances, even if the information is revealed, the attacker won’t be able to understand it.
Depending on the application case, there seem to be numerous forms of encryptions. So it’s crucial to encrypt cloud data with a high-quality cipher.
Can you comprehend the following text, for example:
Iggmhnctg rtqfwegu jkij-swcnkva vgejpqnqia & hkpcpeg ctvkengu, ocmgu vqqnu, vq jgnr dwukpguugu vq CRKu vq jgnr dwukpguugu vq jgnr CR
A human mind might find it difficult to solve, yet any Caesar decoder can do so in a matter of seconds:
How does cloud cryptography operate?
It may have seemed from the last few lines of the preceding section that you would pick a cipher to encrypt the data.
Technically speaking, it is possible. But often, you either use encryption-as-a-service from a third party or the cloud service provider supports native encryption.
We will therefore divide this into two categories and monitor its application.
Platform encryption for the cloud:
The encryption is handled by a reputable cloud services provider in this technique, making it the simplest.
This ideally pertains to:
- Resting data
This occurs when the data is encrypted either before being transferred to the storage containers or once they have been placed there.
Since cloud cryptography is a novel strategy, there isn’t a set technique to carry out tasks. Numerous research studies have been published testing various methodologies, but practical application is what matters most.
So how is data at rest protected by a top-tier cloud infrastructure provider like Google Cloud?
According to Google’s records, the data is divided into small chunks of a few gigabytes and dispersed across many machines and storage containers. Data from the same or various users may be contained in any given container.
Additionally, even if they are included in the same container and belong to the same user, each packet is encrypted separately. This implies that other files will continue to be secure even if the encryption key for one packet is leaked.
Additionally, every time data is updated, the encryption key is modified.
With the exception of a few persistent drives made before 2015, all data at this storage level is secured with AES-256.
Thus, at the level of individual packets, this is the first encryption layer.
With certain legacy HHDs still using AES-128, the hard disc drives (HDD) or solid-state drives (SSD) storing these data chunks are then secured with a second layer of AES-256 bit encryption. Please be aware that storage-level encryption uses different keys than device-level encryption.
Then, Google’s Key Management Service simultaneously manages all of these data encryption keys (DEKs), which are further encrypted with key encryption keys (KEKs) (KMS). Notably, every KEK uses AES-256/AES-128 bit encryption, and every Google cloud service has a minimum of one KEK.
These KEKs are rotated using Google’s common cryptography library at least once every 90 days.
Every KEK is backed up, logged every time it is used, and only authorized individuals are able to access it.
The KMS master key is created and stored in another key management facility called Root KMS, which also keeps a small number of these keys after all the KEKs have through another round of AES-256 bit encryption.
Each Google Cloud data center has dedicated machines that are used to administer this Root KMS.
Now that this Root KMS has been encrypted with AES-256, it has been stored in the peer-to-peer architecture as a single root KMS master key.
On each root KMS master key distributor that stores the key in random access memory, one Root KMS instance is running.
In order to prevent fraud, all new root KMS master key distributor instances must have approval from active instances.
The root KMS master key is also backed up in just two physical places to address the scenario where all the distributor instances need to start at once.
Finally, access to these highly restricted places is restricted to fewer than 20 Google personnel.
Google uses cloud cryptography for data at rest in this manner.
But you can also manage the keys yourself if you wish to take matters into your own hands. As an alternative, one can self-manage the keys and apply an additional layer of encryption atop this. But keep in mind that if you lose these keys, you’ll also be locked out of your own web project.
But we shouldn’t anticipate this level of specificity from every cloud service. You might profit from using a different supplier since Google charges more but still fits your unique threat model.
Data in action:
Here, the data goes either inside or outside the cloud provider’s data centre, such as when you upload it from your own computer.
We will observe the Google cloud implementation because, once more, there is no strict mechanism to protect the data while it is in transit.
Three steps are outlined in the whitepaper on this topic, encryption-in-transit, to secure non-stationary data: authentication, encryption, and integrity check.
Google safeguards data in transit within its data centre using optional endpoint authentication, integrity confirmation, and encryption.
While a user has the option of taking additional security precautions, Google confirms top-notch security on its grounds by granting a select few of its workers highly controlled access.
Outside of its physical boundaries, Google follows a different set of rules for any customer applications hosted on its cloud as well as its own cloud services (like Google Drive) (like any website running on its compute engine).
In the first scenario, all traffic initially passes through the TLS-enabled Google Front End (GFE) checkpoint (TLS). After receiving DDoS mitigation and load-balancing across the servers, the traffic is then pointed in the direction of the intended Google Cloud Service.
If the infrastructure owner isn’t using another Google service (like their Cloud VPN) for data transfer, then it is primarily their duty to secure the security of data in transit.
TLS is typically used to ensure that data hasn’t been altered while in transit. The URL bar’s padlock icon serves as a visual representation of this protocol, which is utilised by default when you connect to any website that supports HTTPS.
It is used frequently in all web browsers, but you can also use it in other programmes like email, voice and video conversations, instant messaging, etc.
However, virtual private networks, which again offer many layers of protection with cutting-edge encryption cyphers like AES-256, are available for the highest encryption requirements.
However, implementing cloud cryptography independently is challenging, which brings us to…
This is where your cloud platform’s default security policies are inadequate or nonexistent for particular use cases.
To manage everything yourself and guarantee enterprise-grade data security is undoubtedly one of the finest options. However, that is easier said than done and negates the hassle-free nature of cloud computing.
Therefore, our only option is to employ an EAAS like CloudHesive. Similar to cloud computing, you ‘borrow’ encryption this time rather than CPU, RAM, storage, etc.
You can use encryption for data in transit and at rest depending on the EAAS provider.
Security is the biggest benefit of cloud cryptography. There are however drawbacks. By using cloud cryptography, you can protect your users’ data from cybercriminals.
Although cloud cryptography cannot prevent every hack, it is important to do your part and have a good defense in case something goes wrong.
The main drawback is the expense and time required to update the current security system. Furthermore, if you are self-managing and misplace the encryption keys, there isn’t much that can be done to aid.
Finding an EAAS that has been around for a while is also difficult because this is a new technology.
We hope that this gave you a brief introduction to cloud cryptography. In short, it concerns the security of data in relation to the cloud, including when it moves outside.
The majority of top-rated cloud infrastructure providers, like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and others, have sufficient security for all use scenarios. However, there is no damage in familiarizing yourself with the technical lingo before entrusting anyone with hosting your mission-critical apps.