The instinctive concern about cloud computing, shared by many business owners, is that it involves moving data away from the user.  Rather than storing information with an onsite server, in the user’s office, it is transferred to a remote environment.  That creates a perception of less control, and consequent weaker security.  Businesses move to the cloud for its facilitation of flexible working patterns, lower IT costs, minimised network downtime and efficient internal interaction.  Yet the concerns about security linger.  The answer to this dilemma is not, however, moving data itself back to a tangible location in the user’s workspace.  Rather, the solution is moving control of access to that data back to the workspace.  This approach has inspired the security measure known as two-factor authentication.

Fall Of The Password

The value of the lone typed password is deteriorating, largely thanks to human error.  Many users do not change their passwords on a regular basis.  Many more use the same password for multiple locked data zones.  Flippancy around passwords is a common failing in the workplace, occasionally even afflicting the most illustrious of IT professionals.  The result is a search for augmented, or alternative, means of authentication.  Some of these encompass the likes of fingerprint, voice or iris recognition.  All fine, but each of them depends on having access to specific hardware.  A key advantage of storing data in the cloud is the ability to securely access it from any device, anywhere in the world.  Therefore, the system designed must be software-based.

How Two-Factor Authentication Works

Two-factor authentication is a simple concept.  Only the approval of a second device should be able to grant access to the cloud.  This second device would be a personal device of the user, pre-registered through a secure application with his or her own cloud desktop.  The user would log into the cloud using a username and password, as has historically been the case.  However, after entering a password, that user would be directed to their personal device to approve the log in.

There are a number of ways that a log in can be approved, depending on the software being employed.  The user might receive a straightforward notification, a la Facebook or Twitter.  Other examples might send the user an automated call or a passcode via text message to be typed into the first device.  Whatever the method of authentication, the core principle is that control of access is returned squarely to the user.  Security depends not purely on the software defences of the cloud itself, but on the user’s own manual approval through a personal device that only they own.

Why Two-Factor Authentication Is A Long-Term Solution

The key detail is that two-factor authentication is a long-term concept, rather than a one-off piece of software.  Cloud security systems of the future will very possibly bear this concept as a platform.  This becomes particularly plausible when one considers the growth in popularity of commercial cloud computing, for all the reasons listed above.  The potential capacity for two-factor authentication is huge.

The relationship between the two is also mutually beneficial; the challenge for the cloud in recent years has been to overcome the popular misconceptions of weakness.  These are now disintegrating in the face of the truth. Ultimately, a cloud desktop is more secure than an onsite server simply by its very nature.  It is harder for an attacker to locate; it is routinely encrypted; and it is monitored by professional hackers.  There are several reasons why these fundamental facts are now filtering out into commercial consciousness.  These include improved communication and greater general technical awareness, but also pay much heed to the developments in cybersecurity.  Two-factor authentication plays its part in that.  Not only does it make a huge difference to security in real terms, but it also grants business users the sense of comfort and control that they long for when it comes to cloud

Data remotely centralised; access to that data singularly localised.  Two-factor authentication grants the users the chance to pinpoint security control to a personal device of their choosing, while retaining the flexibility to access cloud-based data from any other device on the planet with an internet connection.  No other person can own that device, so no other person can access that data.  Of course, no cybersecurity system can ever be 100% perfect.  However, two-factor authentication adds crucial layers.  The attacker would need to know what cloud system their target was using.  They would need to bypass the initial username and password structure.  And they would need to get around the problem of not owning the second device controlling cloud access.  That constitutes a huge step towards protecting vital data from malignant entities.

 

 

Viastak work with official partners Amazon Web Services and Citrix to deliver secure cloud-based IT solutions, both in the UK and overseas.  We have an exemplary track record in granting businesses the power to streamline their regular practices through the use of cutting-edge technology.  To find out more, please get in touch.