Security Issues in Cloud Computing and Associated Mitigation Techniques

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Security Issues in Cloud Computing and Associated Mitigation Techniques

  1. Viswanadham

    Research Scholar, Computer Science and Engineering ,

    SRM University, kattankulathur, India,

    Abstract:- The unique feature of Cloud Computing holds in its potential to eliminate the requirements for setting up of high- cost computing infrastructure for IT-based solutions and services that the industry uses. It promises to provide a flexible IT architecture, accessible through internet from lightweight portable devices. This would allow multi-fold increase in the capacity and capabilities of the existing and new software. In a cloud computing environment, the entire data resides over a set of networked resources, enabling the data to be accessed through virtual machines. Since the data centers may be located anywhere in the world beyond the reach and control of users, there are multifarious security and privacy challenges that need to be understood and addressed. Also, one can never deny the possibility of a server breakdown that has been witnessed, rather quite often in the recent times. There are various issues that need to be addressed with respect to security and privacy in a cloud computing environment. This extensive survey paper aims to elaborate and analyze the numerous unresolved issues for cloud computing adoption and diffusion affecting the various stake- holders associated with it.

    Keywords:- Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Interoperability, Denial of Service (DoS), Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), Mobile Cloud Computing (MCC), Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Community of Interest (COI).

    1. INTRODUCTION

      Internet has been a driving force towards the various technologies that have been developed since its inception. Arguably, one of the most discussed among all of them is Cloud Computing. Over the last few years, cloud computing paradigm has witnessed an enormous shift towards its adoption and it has become a trend in the information technology space as it promises significant cost reductions and new business potential to its users and providers [1]. The advantages of using cloud computing include: i) reduced hardware and maintenance cost, ii) accessibility around the globe, and iii) flexibility and highly automated processes wherein the customer need not worry about mundane concerns like software up-gradation [2, 3].

      A plethora of definitions have been given explaining the cloud computing. Cloud computing is defined as a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage devices and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction [4]. In such an

      Dr. D. Malathi

      Professor,

      Computer Science and Engineering, SRM University,

      Kattankulathur, Inida,

      environment users need not own the infrastructure for various computing services. In fact, they can be accessed from any computer in any part of the world. This integrates features supporting high scalability and multi-tenancy, offering enhanced flexibility in comparison to the earlier existing computing methodologies. It can deploy, allocate or reallocate resources dynamically with an ability to continuously monitor their performance [4].

    2. CLOUD CHARACTERISTICS AND

      ADVANTAGES

      Cloud computing can be classified based on the services offered and deployment models. According to the different types of services offered, cloud computing can be considered to consist of three layers. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the lowest layer that provides basic infrastructure support service. Platform as a Service (PaaS) layer is the middle layer, which offers platform oriented services, besides providing the environment for hosting users applications. Software as a Service (SaaS) is the topmost layer which features a complete application offered as service on demand [5, 6].

      SaaS ensures that complete applications are hosted on the internet and users use them. The payment is made on a pay- per-use model. It eliminates the need to install and run the application on the customers local computer, thus alleviating the customers burden for software maintenance. In SaaS, there is the Divided Cloud and Convergence coherence mechanism whereby every data item has either the Re ad Lock or Write Lock [7]. Two types of servers are used by

      SaaS: the Main Consistence Server (MCS) and Domain Consistence Server (DCS). Cache coherence is achieved by the cooperation between MCS and DCS [8]. In SaaS, if the MCS is damaged, or compromised, the control over the cloud environment is lost. Hence securing the MCS is of great importance.

      In the Platform as a Service approach (PaaS), the offering also includes a software execution environment. For example, there could be a PaaS application server that enables the lone developer to deploy web-based applications without buying actual servers and setting them up. PaaS model aims to protect data, which is especially important in case of storage as a service. In case of congestion, there is the problem of outage from a cloud environment. Thus the need for security against outage is important to ensure load balanced service. The data needs to be encrypted when hosted on a platform for security reasons. Cloud computing architectures making use of multiple cryptographic techniques towards providing cryptographic cloud storage have been proposed in [9].

      Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) refers to the sharing of hardware resources for executing services, typically using

      virtualization technology. Potentially, with IaaS approach, multiple users use available resources. The resources can easily be scaled up depending on the demand from user and they are typically charged on a pay-per-use basis [10]. They are all virtual machines, which need to be managed. Thus a governance framework is required to control the creation and usage of virtual machines. This also helps to avoid uncontrolled access to users sensitive information .

      Irrespective of the above mentioned service models, cloud services can be deployed in four ways depending upon the customers requirements:

      • Public Cloud: A cloud infrastructure is provided to

        many customers and is managed by a third party

        [11]. Multiple enterprises can work on the infrastructure provided, at the same time. Users can dynamically provision resources through the internet from an off-site service provider. Wastage of resources is checked as the users pay for whatever they use.

      • Private Cloud: Cloud infrastructure, made available only to a specific customer and managed either by

        the organization itself or third party service provider

        [11]. This uses the concept of virtualization of machines, and is a proprietary network.

      • Community cloud: Infrastructure shared by several organizations for a shared cause and may be

      • Virtualization: It has been the underlying concept towards such a huge rise of cloud computing in the modern era. The term refers to providing an environment that is able to render all the services, supported by a hardware that can be observed on a personal computer, to the end users [15]. The three existing forms of virtualization categorized as: Server virtualization, Storage virtualization and Network virtualization, have inexorably led to the evolution of Cloud computing. For example, a number of underutilized physical servers may be consolidate within a smaller number of better utilized severs [16].

      • Web Service and SOA: Web services provided services over the web using technologies like XML, Web Services Description Language (WSDL), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), and Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI). The service organisation inside a cloud is managed in the form of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and hence we can define SOA as something that makes use of multiple services to perform a specific task [17].

      • Application Programming Interface (API): Without APIs it is hard to imagine the existence of cloud computing. The whole bunch of cloud services depend on APIs and allow deployment and

        managed by them or a third party service provider. configuration through them. Based on the API

        • Hybrid Cloud: A composition of two or more cloud deployment models, linked in a way that data transfer takes place between them without affecting each other.

          Moreover, with the technological advancements, we can see derivative cloud deployment models emerging out of the various demands and the requirements of users. A virtual- private cloud is one such case wherein a public cloud is used in a private manner, connected to the internal resources of the customers data-centre [12]. With the emergence of high-end network access technologies like 2G, 3G, Wi-Fi, Wi-Max etc. and feature phones, a new derivative of cloud computing has emerged. This is popularly referred to as Mobile Cl oud Computing (MCC). It can be defined as a composition o f mobile technology and cloud computing infrastructure where data and the related processing will happen in the cloud only with an exception that they can be accessed through a mobile device and hence termed as mobile cloud computing [13] as shown in Fig. 1. It is becoming a trend now-a-days and many organizations are keen to provide accessibility to their employees to access office network through a mobile device from anywhere.

          Recent technical advancements including the emergence of HTML5 and various other browser development tools have only increased the market for mobile cloud-computing. An increasing trend towards the feature-phone adoption [13] has also ramped up the MCC market.

          Cloud Computing distinguishes itself from other computing paradigms like grid computing, global computing, and internet computing in various aspects of on demand service provision, user centric interfaces, guaranteed QoS (Quality of Service), and autonomous system [14] etc. A few state of the art techniques that contribute to cloud computing are:

          category used viz. control, data and application, different functions of APIs are invoked and services are rendered to the users accordingly.

        • Web 2.0 /Mash-up: Web 2.0 has been defined as a technology that enables us to create web pages and allows the users to interact and collaborate as creators of user generated content in a virtual community [18, 19]. It enables the usage of World Wide Web technology towards a more creative and a collaborative platform [20]. Mash-up is a web application that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated storage tool [21].

      These were the few technological advances that led to the emergence of Cloud Computing and enabled a lot of service providers to provide the customers a hassle free world of virtualization fulfilling all their demands. The prominent ones are: Amazon-EC2 [22, 23] (Elastic Compute Cloud), S3 [22] (Simple Storage Service), SQS (Simple Queue Service), CF (Cloud Front), SimpleDB, Google, Microsoft Windows-Azure [23], ProofPoint, RightScale, Salesforce.com, Workday, Sun Microsystems etc. and each of them are categorised either as one of the three main classifications based on the cloud structure they provide: private, public and hybrid cloud. Each of the above mentioned cloud structure has its own limitations and benefits.

      Fig 1. Cloud computing Scenario

      The enormous growth in this field has changed the way computing world is perceived. The IT sector has witnessed the change in the way situations are handled. However, there are issues that still persist and have become even more compelling now. The amount of significant resources available at very low price is acting as a catalyst for distributed attacks on confidential information.

      With a substantial increase in the number of Cloud Computing deployments, the issues related to security and privacy have become more sophisticated and more distributed in the sense that the user section for such services is growing by leaps and bounds [24, 25]. With an increase in on-demand application usage, the possibility of cyber attacks also increases. Individual users have to frequently provide online information about their identification, and this could be used by attackers for identity theft. In order to maintain various security and privacy issues like: confidentiality, operational integrity, disaster recovery and identity management, following schemes should be deployed at least to ensure data security

      1. to some extent:

        • An encryption scheme to ensure data security in a highly interfering environment, maintaining security standards against popular threats to data storage security.

        • The Service Providers should be given limited access to the data, just to manage it without being able to see what exactly the data is.

        • Stringent access controls to prevent unauthorized and

          illegal access to the servers controlling the network.

        • Data backup and redundant data storage to ensure seamless data retrieval in case of infrastructure failure like the recent breakdown issues with the Amazon cloud.

        • Distributed identity management and user security is to be maintained by using either Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), or published APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to connect into identity systems.

      An important aspect of cloud computing is that it does give rise to a number of security threats from the perspective of data security for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the traditional techniques cannot be adopted as these have become quite obsolete with respect to the ever evolving security threats and also to avoid data loss in a cloud computing environment. The second issue is that the data stored in the cloud is accessed a large number of times and is often subjected to different types

      of changes. This may comprise of bank accounts, passwords and highly confidential files, not to be read by someone else apart from the owner. Hence, even a small error may result in loss of data security.

      This paper is aimed at developing an understanding of the manifold security threats that hamper the security and privacy of a user. Characteristics of a secure cloud infrastructure (public or private) will be discussed as also its challenges and the ways to solve them.

    3. OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR CLOUD COMPUTING

      In spite of being a buzzword, there are certain aspects associated with Cloud Computing as a result of which many organizations are still not confident about moving into the cloud. Certain loopholes in its architecture have made cloud computing vulnerable to various security and privacy threats [27]. A few issues limiting the boundaries of this transformational concept are:

      1. Privacy and Security

        The fundamental factor defining the success of any new computing technology is the level of security it provides [28, 29, 30]. Whether the data residing in the cloud is secure to a level so as to avoid any sort of security breach or is it more secure to store the data away from cloud in our own personal computers or hard drives? At-least we can access our hard drives and systems whenever we wish to, but cloud servers could potentially reside anywhere in the world and any sort of internet breakdown can deny us access to the data stored in the cloud. The cloud service providers insist that their srvers and the data stored in them is sufficiently protected from any sort of invasion and theft. Such companies argue that the data on their servers is inherently more secure than data residing on a myriad of personal computers and laptops. However, it is also a part of cloud architecture, that the client data will be distributed over these individual computers regardless of where the base repository of data is ultimately located. There have been instances when their security has been invaded and the whole system has been down for hours. At-least half a dozen of security breaches occurred last year bringing out the fundamental limitations of the security model of major Cloud Service Providers (CSP). With respect to cloud computing environment, privacy is defined as the ability of an entity to control what information it reveals about itself to the cloud/cloud SP, and the ability to control who can access that information. R. Gellman discusses the standards for collection, maintenance and disclosure of personality identifiable information in [24]. Information requiring privacy and the various privacy challenges need the specific steps to be taken in order to ensure privacy in the cloud as discussed in [31 , 32].

        Emergence of cloud computing owes significantly to mashup. A mashup is an application that combines data, or functionality from multiple web sources and creates new services using these. As these involve usage of multiple sub- applications or elements towards a specific application, the security challenges are diverse and intense. Based on this idea, various security architectures such as: a secure component model addressing the problem of securing mash-up applications and an entropy based security framework for cloud oriented service mash-ups have been proposed in [36, 66]. Also, privacy needs to be maintained as there are high chances of an eavesdropper to be able to sneak in.

      2. Performance Unpredictability, Latency and Reliability

        It has been observed that virtual machines can share CPUs and main memory in a much better way in comparison to the network and disk I/O. Different EC2 instances vary more in their I/O performance than main memory performance [37]. One of the ways to improve I/O performance is to improve architecture and operating systems to efficiently virtualize interrupts and I/O channels. Another possibility is to make use of flash memory which is a type of semiconductor memory that preserves information even when powered off and since it has no moving parts, it is much faster to access and uses comparatively less energy. Flash memory can sustain many more I/O operations than disks, so multiple virtual machines with large number of I/O operations would coexist better on the same physical computer [37].

        Latency [38, 39] has always been an issue in cloud computing with data expected to flow around different clouds. The other factors that add to the latency are: encryption and decryption of the data when it moves around unreliable and public networks, congestion, packet loss and windowing. Congestion adds to the latency when the traffic flow through the network is high and there are many requests (could be of same priority) that need to be executed at the same time. Windowing is another message passing technique whereby the receiver has to send a message to the sender that it has received the earlier sent packet and hence this additional traffic adds to the network latency. Moreover, the performance of the system is also a factor that should be taken into account. Sometimes the cloud service providers run short of capacity either by allowing access to too many virtual machines or reaching upper throughput thresholds on their Internet links because of high demand arising from the customer community. This affects the system performance and adds to the latency of the system.

      3. Portability and Interoperability

        Organizations may need to change the cloud providers and there have been cases when companies are unable to move their data and applications to another cloud platform that they would prefer over the existing one. Such a scenario is termed as Lock- in and it refers to the challenges faced by a cloud customer trying to migrate from one cloud provider to another. More often, it has been seen that changing a cloud provider involves multiple risks and may lead to system breakdown if not executed properly. Nature of Lock-in and associated issues are very much dependent on the cloud type being used [40]. In case of a SaaS offering, an application is used by the customer provided by the cloud provider. While migrating between the cloud providers, there may be instances when the data to be moved does not really fit the data format as required in the new application. This will require extra effort to be put in to make sure that the data is arranged in a format that matches the new application ensuring no data loss in the process. Additional steps such as: performing regular data extraction and back-up to a format that is usable even without the SaaS application, understanding how the application has been developed and monitored, and the major interfaces and their integration between the platforms need to be taken care of.

        PaaS lock-in can be observed in cases where the language used to develop an application on a platform is not supported on the platform to be migrated to. It is more visible at API level as different providers offer different APIs. PaaS lock-in

        can be avoided if the following points are considered and

        addressed:

        • Cloud offering with an open architecture and

          standard syntax should be supported.

        • Understand the application components and modules specific to the PaaS provider and how the basic

          services like monitoring, logging etc. are performed.

        • Understand the control functions specific to the cloud provider and their counterparts on an Open platform.

          IaaS lock-in depends on the infrastructure services being used. The most obvious form of IaaS lock-in can be observed in the form of data lock-in. With more and more data pushed to the cloud, data lock-in increases unless the cloud provider ensures data portability. Understanding how the virtual machine images are maintained and eliminating any provider specific dependency for a virtual machine environment will serve at the time of transition from one IaaS platform to other. Identifying the hardware dependencies will minimize the issues at the time of migration. In order to avoid this lock-ins, the customer should be clear of the choices available in the market and the extent to which they match up to its business, operational and technical requirements.

          Also, some companies use different cloud platforms for different applications based on their requirements and the services provided by the cloud service providers (CSPs). In some cases, different cloud platforms are used for a particular application or different cloud platforms have to interact with each other for completing a particular task. The internal infrastructure of the organization is needed to maintain a balance to handle the interoperability between different cloud platforms [41]. The risk of outsourced services going out of control is high in a hybrid, public and private cloud environment. All data has to be encrypted for proper security, and key management becomes a difficult task in such situations [42]. The users have actually no idea of where their information is stored [43]. Normally, a users data is stored in a shared environment, along-with other users data. The issue of inter-security handling becomes important in such cases. A cloud security management model is discussed in [42] to serve as a standard for designing cloud security management tools. The model uses four interoperating layers for managing the cloud security.

          Thus we see that although the buzz of cloud computing prevails everywhere because of the multi-fold features and facilities provided by it, there are still issues that need to be solved in order to reah the landmarks set by it.

      4. Data Breach through Fibre Optic Networks

        It has been noticed that the security risks for the data in transit has increased over the last few years. Data transitioning is quite normal now-a-days and it may include multiple data- centres and other cloud deployment models such as public or private cloud. Security of the data leaving a data-centre to another data-centre is a major concern as it has been breached quite a number of times in the recent times.

        This data transfer is done over a network of fibre-optic cables which were considered to be a safe mode of data-transfer, until recently an illegal fibre eavesdropping device in Telco

        Verizons optical network placed at a mutual fund company was discovered by US Security forces [44]. There are devices that can tap the data flow without even disturbing it and

        accessing fibre, through which data is being transferred. They are generally laid underground and hence it is difficult to access these fibre-optic cables. And hence it becomes quite important to ensure data security over the transitioning networks.

      5. Data Storage over IP Networks

        Online data storage is becoming quite popular now-a-days and it has been observed that majority of enterprise storage will be networked in the coming years, as it allows enterprises to maintain huge chunks of data without setting up the required architecture. Although there are many advantages of having online data storage, there are security threats that could cause data leakage or data unavailability at crucial hour. Such issues are observed more frequently in the case of dynamic data that keeps flowing within the cloud in comparison to static data. Depending upon the various levels of operations and storage provided, these networked devices are categorized into SAN (Storage area network) and NAS (network-attached storage) and since these storage networks reside on various servers, there are multiple threats associated with them. Various threat zones that may affect and cause the vulnerability of a storage network have been discussed in [45].

        Besides these, from a Mobile Cloud Computing (MCC) perspective, unlike cloud computing there are several additional challenges that need to be addressed to enable MCC reach its maximum potential:

        • Network accessibility: Internet has been the major factor towards the cloud computing evolution and without having the network (Internet) access it will not be possible to access the mobile cloud limiting the available applications that can be used.

        • Data Latency: Data transfer in a wireless network is not as continuous and consistent as it is in case of a dedicated wired LAN. And this inconsistency is largely responsible for longer time intervals for data transfer at times. Also, the distance from the source adds up to the longer time intervals observed in case of data transfer and other network related activities because of an increase in the number of intermediate network components.

        • Dynamic Network monitoring and Scalability:

          Applications running on mobiles in a mobile cloud computing platform should be intelligent enough to adapt to the varying network capacities and also these should be accessible through different platforms without suffering any data loss. Sometimes, a user while working on a smart phone may need to move on to a feature phone and when he accesses the application through a smart phone; he

          to handle the case of multiple clouds. Since data belonging to multiple users may be stored in a single hypervisor, specific segmentation measures are needed to overcome the potential weakness and flaws in hypervisor platform.

          Security challenges in a mobile cloud computing environment are slightly different as compared to the above mentioned network related challenges. With applications lying in a cloud, it is possible for the hackers to corrupt an application and gain access to a mobile device while accessing that application. In order to avoid these, strong virus-scanning and malware protection software need to be installed to avoid any type of virus/malware check into the mobile system. Besides, by embedding device identity protection, like allowing access to the authorized user based on some form of identity check feature, unauthorized accesses can be blocked.

          Two types of services, have been defined in [46], namely (i) critical security service, and (ii) normal security service. The resource in a cloud has to be properly partitioned according to different users requests. The maximal system rewards and system service overheads are considered for the security service. Hence, we see that although mobile cloud computing is still in its nascent state, there are various security issues, that plague cloud computing and its derivatives.

    4. THREATS TO SECURITY IN CLOUD COMPUTING

      The chief concern in cloud environments is to provide security around multi-tenancy and isolation, giving customers more comfort besides trust us idea of clouds [62]. There has been survey works reported, which classify security threats in cloud based on the nature of the service delivery models of a cloud computing system [63]. However, security requires a holistic approach. Service delivery model is one of many aspects that need to be considered for a comprehensive survey on cloud security. Security at different levels such as Network level, Host level and Application level is necessary to keep the cloud up and running continuously and the same has been discussed in [64] for Amazon EC2 cloud. In accordance with these different levels, various types of security breaches may occur which have been classified in this section.

      1. Basic Security

        Web 2.0, a key technology towards enabling the use of Software as a Service (SaaS) relieves the users from tasks like maintenance and installation of software. It has been used widely all around. As the user community using Web 2.0 is increasing by leaps and bounds, the security has become more important than ever for such environment [65, 67].

        should not encounter any data loss. SQL injection attacks, are the one in which a malicious code is inserted into a standard SQL code. Thus the attackers gain

        • Confidentiality of mobile cloud-based data sharing: The confidential data on mobile phones using cloud- based mobile device support might become public due to a hacked cloud. The root-level access to cloud services and information can be easily accessed from a stolen mobile device. If the stolen device belongs to a system administrator, they may even provide direct and automated access to highly confidential information.

        • Better access control and identity management:

          Cloud computing involves virtualization, and hence the need for user authentication and control across the clouds is high. The existing solutions are not able

          unauthorized access to a database and are able to access sensitive information [68]. Sometimes the hackers input data is misunderstood by the web-site as the user data and allows it to be accessed by the SQL server and this lets the attacker to have know-how of the functioning of the website and make changes into that. Various techniques like: avoiding the usage of dynamically generated SQL in the code, using filtering techniques to sanitize the user input etc. are used to check the SQL injection attacks. A proxy based architecture towards preventing SQL Injection attacks which dynamically detects and extracts users inputs for suspected SQL control sequences has been proposed in [69].

          Cross Site Scripting (XSS) attacks, which inject malicious scripts into Web contents have become quite popular since the inception of Web 2.0. There are two methods for injecting the malicious code into the web-page displayed to the user: Stored XSS and Reflected XSS. In a Stored XSS, the malicious code is permanently stored into a resource managed by the web application and the actual attack is carried ou when the victim requests a dynamic page that is constructed from the contents of this resource [70]. However, in case of a Reflected XSS, the attack script is not permanently stored; in fact it is immediately reflected back to the user [70].

          Based on the type of services provided, a website can be classified as static or dynamic. Static websites do not suffer from the security threats which the dynamic websites do because of their dynamism in providing multi-fold services to the users. As a result, these dynamic websites get victimized by XSS attacks. It has been observed quite often that amidst working on the internet or surfing, some web-pages or pop-ups open up with the request of being clicked away to view the content contained in them. More often either unknowingly (about the possible hazards) or out of curiosity users click on these hazardous links and thus the intruding third party gets control over the users private information or hack their accounts after having known the information available to them. Various techniques like: Active Content Filtering, Content Based Data Leakage Prevention Technology, Web Application Vulnerability Detection Technology has already been proposed to prevent XSS attacks [71]. These technologies adopt various methodologies to detect security flaws and fix them. A blueprint based approach that minimizes the dependency on web browsers towards identifying untrusted content over the network has been proposed in [72].

          Another class of attacks, quite popular to SaaS, are termed as

          Man in the Middle attacks (MITM). In such an attack, an entity tries to intrude in an ongoing conversation between a sender and a client to inject false information and to have knowledge of the important data transferred between them. Various tools implementing strong encryption technologies like: Dsniff, Cain, Ettercap, Wsniff, Airjack etc. have been developed in order to provide safeguard against them. A detailed study towards preventing man in the middle attacks has been presented in [73].

          A few of the important points like: evaluating software as a service security, separate endpoint and server security processes, evaluating virtualization at the end-point have been mentioned by Eric Ogren, in an article at Security.com to tackle traditional security flaws [74].

          Hence, security at different levels is necessary in order to ensure proper implementation of cloud computing environment such as: server access security, internet access security, database access security, data privacy security and program access security. In addition, we need to ensure data security at network layer, and data security at physical and application layer to maintain a secure cloud.

      2. Network Level Security

        Networks are classified into different types like: shared and non-shared, public or private, small area or large area networks and each of them have a number of security threats to deal with. While considering the network level security, it is important to distinguish between public and private clouds. There is less vulnerability in a private cloud in comparison to public cloud. Almost all the organizations have got a private network in place and hence the network topology for a private cloud gets defined. And in most of the cases, the security

        practices implemented (in the organizations private network) apply to the private cloud too. However, in case of a public cloud implementation, network topology might need to be changed in order to implement the security features and the following points need to be addressed as part of public cloud implementation:

        • Confidentiality and Integrity of the data-in-transit needs to be ensured while adopting a public cloud architecture.

        • Ensuring proper access controls within the cloud.

          • Migrating to a cloud exposes the resources to Internet and the data which has been hosted over a private network till now, becomes accessible over the internet. This also increases the chances of data leakage or a security breach which should be taken care of.

          • It may happen that the security policies implemented inside the cloud are not up to date and as a result other parties within the cloud are able to access data belonging to some other customer.

        • The trusted encryption schemes and tokenization models need to be changed to enhance the security in a public cloud.

          We can now see the reasons because of which organizations are not moving their sensitive data to public clouds and instead relying on private cloud. In addition to the concerns mentioned above, issues associated with network level security comprise of: DNS attacks, Sniffer attacks, issue of reused IP address, Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS) etc. [75].

              1. DNS Attacks

                Domain Name Server (DNS) performs the translation of a domain name to an IP address since the domain names are much easier to remember. Hence, the DNS servers are needed. But there are cases when having called the server by name, the user has been routed to some other malicious cloud instead of the one he asked for and hence using IP address is not always feasible. Although using DNS security measures like: Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) reduces the effects of DNS threats but still there are cases when these security measures prove to be inadequate when the path between a sender and a receiver gets rerouted through some malicious connection. It may happen that even after all the DNS security measures are taken, the route selected between the sender and receiver cause security problems [76].

              2. Sniffer Attacks

                These types of attacks are launched by applications which can capture packets flowing in a network and if the data that is being transferred through these packets is not encrypted, it can be read. There are chances that vital information flowing across the network can be traced or captured. A sniffer program, through the NIC (Network Interface Card) ensures that the data/traffic linked to other systems on the network also gets recorded. It can be achieved by placing the NIC in promiscuous mode and in promiscuous mode it can track all data, flowing on the same network. A malicious sniffing detection platform based on ARP (address resolution protocol) and RTT (round trip time) can be used to detect a sniffing system running on a network [77].

              3. Issue of Reused IP Addresses

                Each node of a network is provided an IP address and the number of IP addresses that can be assigned is limited. A large number of cases related to re-used IP-address issue have been observed lately. When a particular user moves out of a network, then the IP-address associated with him (earlier) is assigned to a new user. This sometimes risks the security of the new user as there is a certain time lag between the change of an IP address in DNS and the clearing of that address in DNS caches [25]. And hence, we can say that sometimes though the old IP address is being assigned to a new user still the chances of accessing the data by some other user is not negligible as the address still exists in the DNS cache and the data belonging to a particular user may become accessible to some other user violating the privacy of the earlier user.

              4. BGP Prefix Hijacking

          Prefix hijacking is a type of network attack in which a wrong announcement related to the IP addresses associated with an Autonomous system (AS) is made. Hence, malicious parties get access to the untraceable IP addresses. On the internet, IP space is associated in blocks and remains under the control of ASs. An autonomous system can broadcast information of an IP contained in its regime to all its neighbours.

    5. APPLICATION LEVEL SECURITY

      Application level security refers to the usage of software and hardware resources to provide security to applications such that the attackers are not able to get control over hese applications and make desirable changes to their format. Now a days, attacks are launched, being disguised as a trusted user and the system considering them as a trusted user, allows full access to the attacking party and gets victimized. The reason behind this is that the outdated network level security policies allow only the authorized users to access the specific IP address. With the technological advancement, these security policies have become obsolete as there have been instances when the systems security has been breached, having accessed the system in the disguise of a trusted user. With the recent technological advancements, it is quite possible to

      imitate a trusted user and corrupt entire data without being noticed.

      Hence, it is essential to install higher level of security checks to minimize these risks. The traditional methods to deal with increased security issues have been to develop a task oriented ASIC device which can handle a specific task, providing greater levels of security with high performance [79]. But with application-level threats being dynamic and adaptable to the security checks in place, these closed systems have been observed to be slow in comparison to the open ended systems.

      The capabilities of a closed system as well as the adaptability of an open ended system have been incorporated to develop the security platforms based on Check Point Open Performance Architecture using Quad Core Intel Xeon Processors [79]. Even in the virtual environment, companies like VMware etc. are using Intel Virtualization technology for better performance and security base. It has been observed that more often websites are secured at the network level and have strong security measures but there may be security loopholes at the application level which may allow information access to unauthorized users. The threats to application level security include XSS attacks, Cookie Poisoning, Hidden field manipulation, SQL injection attacks, DoS attacks, Backdoor and Debug Options, CAPTCHA Breaking etc. resulting from the unauthorized usage of the applications.

      1. Security Concerns with the Hypervisor

        Cloud Computing rests mainly on the concept of virtualization. In a virtualized world, hypervisor is defined as a controller popularly known as virtual machine manager (VMM) that allows multiple operating systems to be run on a system at a time, providing the resources to each operating system such that they do not interfere with each other.

        Various types of attacks can be launched by targeting different components of the hypervisor [82]. Based on the understanding of how the various components in the hypervisor architecture behave, an advanced cloud protections system can be developed by monitoring the activities of the guest VMs (Virtual Machines) and inter-communication among the various infrastructure components [83, 84].

      2. Denial of Service Attacks

        providing the service is flooded by a large number of requests and hence the service becomes unavailable to the authorized user. Sometimes, when we try to access a site we see that due to overloading of the server with the requests to access the site, we are unable to access the site and observe an error. This happens when the number of requests that can be handled by a server exceeds its capacity. The occurrence of a DoS attack increases bandwidth consumption besides causing congestion, making certain parts of the clouds inaccessible to the users. Usage of an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) is the most popular method of defence against this type of attacks [85]. A defence federation is used in [31] for guarding against such attacks. Each cloud is loaded with separate IDS. The different intrusion detection systems work on the basis of information exchange. In case a specific cloud is under attack, the co- operative IDS alerts the whole system. A decision on trustworthiness of a cloud is taken by voting, and the overall system performance is not hampered.

      3. Cookie Poisoning

        It involves changing or modifying the contents of cookie to have an unauthorized access to an application or to a web- page. Cookies basically contain the users identity related credentials and once these cookies are accessible, the content of these cookies can be forged to impersonate an authorized user. This can be avoided either by performing regular cookie cleanup or implementing an encryption scheme for the cookie data [71].

      4. Hidden Field Manipulation

        While accessing a web-page, there are certain fields that are hidden and contain the page related information and basically used by developers. However, these fields are highly prone to attacks by hackers as they can be modified easily and posted on the web-page. This may result in severe security violations [86].

      5. Backdoor and Debug Options

        A common practice by the developers is to enable the debug option while publishing a web-site. This enables them to make developmental changes in the code and get them implemented in the web-site. Since these debug options facilitate back-end entry to the developers, and sometimes these debug options are left enabled unnoticed, this may provide an easy entry to a hacker into the web-site that let him make changes at the web- site level [87].

      6. Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

        DDoS may be called an advanced version of DoS in terms of denying the important services running on a server by flooding the destination sever with large numbers of packets such that the target server is not able to handle it. In DDoS the attack is

        relayed from different dynamic networks which have already been compromised unlike the DoS attack. The attackers have the power to control the flow of information by allowing some information available at certain times. Thus the amount and type of information available for public usage is clearly under the control of the attacker [87].

      7. CAPTCHA Breaking

        CAPTCHAs were developed in order to prevent the usage of internet resources by bots or computers. They are used to prevent spam and overexploitation of network resources by bots. Even multiple web-site registrations, dictionary attacks etc. by an automated program are prevented using a CAPTCHA.

        But recently, it has been found that the spammers are able to break the CAPTCHA [91], provided by the Hotmail and G- mail service providers. They make use of the audio system able to read the CAPTCHA characters for the visually impaired users and use speech to text conversion software to defeat the test. In yet another instant of CAPTCHA Breaking, it was found that the net users are provided some form of motivation towards solving these CAPTCHAs by the automated systems and thus CAPTCHA Breaking takes place. Integration of

        A safe CAPTCHA design framework based on the problems of multiple moving object recognition in complex background has been presented in [93]. Single frame zero knowledge CAPTCHA design principles have been proposed, which will be able to resist any attack method of static optical character recognition (OCR). Such a design to create CAPTCHAs will be resistant to attack methods launched by intercepting picture to identify or intercepting each video frame to recognize the CAPTCHA separately.

        various security procedures implemented to ensure the same [25]. Security challenges for IaaS Cloud Computing and multiple levels of security as operational in Amazon EC2 cloud have been discussed in [64]. It discusses identity/access management and multifactor authentication techniques in Amazon Web Service (AWS) cloud.

        PaaS service providers are responsible for maintaining the security of the platform an application is built upon.

    6. CONCLUSION

      The way cloud has been dominating the IT market, a major shift towards the cloud can be expected in the coming years. Already organizations have started moving into the cloud and a few of them includes: Schneider Electric implementing their CRM solutions on salesforce.com SaaS latform, Japanese automaker Toyotas pact with Microsoft to develop a new content delivery network for its automobiles on the latters

      Azure cloud computing platform. More and more IT organizations will be moving into the cloud and with the emergence of NoSQL built around the technologies like Hadoop/HBase and Cassandra, collecting and using massive amount of data is no more considered as a headache. Questions such as how a cloud infrastructure is built will be superseded by how and in what way, to better utilize the cloud. Enhanced cross cloud connectivity and integration wherein different cloud deployment models will be integrated to provide a better infrastructure with feasible data migration options. Increasing tablet use and file based collaboration techniques will give way to cloud based service deployment models and an increased user-base in the cloud . Technologies like Ruby on rails, HTML5 will continue to improve cloud experience in comparison to legacy options. Mobile cloud computing is expected to emerge as one of the biggest market for cloud service providers and cloud developers. Split processing techniques will come into picture and will be an enabling platform for mobile devices.

      Although cloud computing has revolutionized the computing world, it is prone to a number of security threats varying from network level threats to application level threats. In order to keep the Cloud secure, these security threats need to be controlled. Moreover data residing in the cloud is also prone to a number of threats and various issues like: confidentiality and integrity of data should be considered while buying storage services from a cloud service provider. Auditing of the cloud at regular intervals needs to be done to safeguard the cloud against external threats. In addition to this, cloud service providers must ensure that all the SLAs are met and human errors on their part should be minimized, enabling smooth functioning. In this paper various security concerns related to the three basic services provided by a Cloud computing environment are considered and the solutions to prevent them have been discussed.

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