Guide

How to fight cyberthreats — on the cheap

Harnessing the cloud for cybersecurity

Cloud Technology
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When it comes to defending against cyberattacks, a common strategy includes investing in costly hardware and software products, and then shoring up both frequently. But there is a more effective and affordable way to fight cyberterrorism.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents said their company is using cloud-based cybersecurity services, according to PwC's Global State of Information Security Survey 2016. The study, released in October, included input from 10,000 IT professionals from around the globe.

The cloud can be a less pricey cybersecurity tool that's great for small- to mid-size companies that can't afford all the bells and whistles that larger companies have.

"The cloud makes it possible to do things analytical, related to cybersecurity, that were never before possible," David Burg, the global cybersecurity and privacy leader at PwC, told CNBC in a November interview.

Years ago when companies began moving sensitive information to the cloud, there was paranoia about storing data off site. But cybersolutions are evolving and increasingly include cloud-based solutions. "The value of moving to the cloud outweighs the risk of paranoia," Chris Weber, co-founder of Seattle-based Casaba Security, said in November.

Build datacenters in seconds

Cyber experts are also using cloud storage's assets to their advantage. For example, the nature of cloud computing — using remote servers on the Internet to store and process data instead of using local servers or personal computers — means cloud-based cybersecurity systems have access to almost unlimited computing power. And that unlimited capacity allows for quick responses and solutions.

"In cloud-based technology or companies, there is no latency with extremely challenging analytics running in the background," Burg said.

And unlike installing physical hardware and systems, cloud-based cybersecurity also allows for the creation of remote data centers in seconds, said Burg of PwC.

Potential risks

But some cybersecurity experts warn caution, when moving to cloud-based security.

"Make sure you understand who the cloud provider is, that they are highly reliable and that there will be no unforeseen costs down the line," Burg said.

When using third-party security providers, companies are allowing someone else to access to their network traffic. Breaches of cloud-based services have occurred, according to David Kennedy, chief executive and founder of Strongsville, Ohio-based TrustedSec.

"The cloud model is relatively new," Kennedy said. His advice? "Prioritize and protect sensitive information that makes your business unique."


Outsourcing cyberdefense

For now though, cloud's effectiveness and affordability are too enticing to ignore for businesses.

And to harness cloud storage's benefits and bring down costs further for smaller companies, many of those businesses are using third-party cybersecurity providers.

Hiring just one cybersecurity professional cost a median of more than $88,000 a year, according to government data. Additional costs can be substantial including expensive servers.

Third-party cloud cybersecurity companies are usually cheaper for companies than independently hiring their own defense teams. By partnering with a third party, companies get access to data and analytics on threats and solutions used among many companies.

Beyond smaller firms, larger companies are also moving security to the cloud, with many companies setting up their own cloud-based system, according to PwC's Burg. He added that many of the larger companies already use cloud-based messaging services, so moving to cloud-based cybersecurity is a natural progression.