Resources > Security Terms Glossary > What is cloud security?

What is cloud security?

Watch and Learn 

What is cloud security?

Cloud security is a new way of addressing an old problem—how to keep your employees and your data secure. It tackles the challenges that traditional security infrastructures just can’t handle in today’s cloud and mobile world.

In essence, cloud security is a complete platform of solutions purpose-built to protect data moving in and out of the cloud as well as the individuals accessing that data.

Driven by innovation

The cloud has become one of the biggest technology disruptors in recent memory. The changes it has brought to the business landscape are far-reaching, and forcing organizations to re-evaluate everything from how and where their employees work to how best to secure your organization’s data.

Are the traditional security stacks of appliances housed in your corporate data center still the best way to protect your network, the employees that access it and the data that is stored in it? With more applications moving to the cloud and users embracing the ability to work remotely, the answer is clearly no.

Network security architectures that place the enterprise data center at the center of connectivity requirements are an inhibitor to the dynamic access requirements of digital business.

- Gartner, “The Future of Network Security Is in the Cloud,” August 2019

Cloud security vs. traditional network security

In today’s cloud-based world, the stacks of appliances that made up the traditional network security model have become increasingly ineffective and irrelevant. This antiquated, appliance-centric model forces all traffic through the centralized data center for security and access controls—a complex configuration that results in a terrible user experience.

This poor experience becomes more evident when users attempt to access cloud applications, such as Office 365, which were designed to be accessed directly through local internet breakouts. To support these and other bandwidth-hungry applications and to handle increases in network traffic—without added costs or complexity—organizations need a multi-tenant security platform that scales elastically. This can’t be achieved with a traditional network security architecture.

The move to the cloud has also made the concept of the traditional corporate network obsolete, with the internet, in essence, becoming the new corporate network. Network security stacks were not designed for the cloud and cannot provide the comprehensive protection that today’s cloud-based applications and mobile users need. The best way to secure apps and users—no matter where they connect—is by moving security and access controls to the cloud.

Unlike traditional hardware-based security, cloud security allows organizations to stay current with the latest security updates, keeping them protected from rapidly evolving malware and other sophisticated threats. Updating all of your appliances to keep up with the tens of thousands of new phishing sites and other threats that arrive daily is incredibly costly and practically impossible. However, cloud security solutions can be easily updated, minimizing costs and eliminating the complexity of patching, updating, and maintaining hardware and software.

With cloud security, security services are built directly into the platform, so they communicate with each other to give organizations a cohesive picture of all the traffic that’s moving across your network. Through a single interface, organizations gain insight into every request—by user, location, and device around the world—in seconds.

And, just like most of the applications organizations use today, a cloud security solution can be delivered as a service, reducing the cost and complexity of traditional appliance approaches.

Increasing demand for cloud security

Industry analysts recognize the change that the cloud has brought to the business landscape and understand how its impact will continue to grow in the future.

Gartner analysts project that the demand for cloud security delivered as a service, referred to as secure access service edge (SASE), will grow significantly in the next five years. The analyst firm estimates that, by 2024, a minimum of 40 percent of companies will have plans to adopt SASE.

The reason? SASE reduces the network complexity that is currently overwhelming organizations still using traditional security approaches. It provides a more dynamic path to security that matches the variety of ways users now access networks.

Organizations that are still clinging to their on-premises appliances must accept this reality and adapt their security strategies to meet the needs of today’s cloud-based landscape.

In its report titled “Gartner Top 7 Security and Risk Trends for 2019,” Gartner discussed the changes that forward-thinking organizations have taken to embrace, and benefit from, cloud security. It wrote:

As organizations engage more and more cloud-based platforms, security teams will see increasing variety and complexity when it comes to cloud security. Leading organizations are establishing a cloud center of excellence team and investing in people, processes and tools to master this rapidly changing environment.

The Future of Network Security Is in the Cloud (Gartner report)

Get the Report

Securing Cloud Transformation with a Zero Trust Approach

Read the White Paper

Rethink Network Security

Learn More

And, in its most recent Secure Web Gateway Magic Quadrant report, Gartner wrote: “Cloud growth will primarily come from the replacement of on-premises solutions, and will be bolstered as enterprises add more-advanced security features (for example, remote browser isolation, sandboxing, outbound firewall services, etc.).”

See the difference for yourself

Still using appliances for your network security? Could your company be safer with cloud security? Take this security preview test to find out how well your company is protected against ransomware and other threats. The test is safe, free, and informative.

Additional resources: