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What is Cloud File Storage and is it Secure?

As the world moves towards a more connected future, every aspect of doing business is evolving.

For example, in the past, companies would have implemented on-premises software solutions for critical business processes that were often custom-built and resource intensive. Today however, Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, is changing the way that companies relate to software; they can use only what they need, implement SaaS solutions relatively quickly, and in most cases can turn the solution off with the click of a button.

Data storage and access have undergone a similar transformation. From tape drives and heavy on-premises solutions to modern cloud file storage solutions that bring with them a whole new way of collaboration and productivity.

We’ll look at what cloud file storage is, and address one of the burning issues relating to cloud file storage: security.

The Benefits of Cloud Storage

It’s no wonder that 72% of organizations are moving to cloud-based services when upgrading or purchasing new technologies. Cloud file storage offers numerous benefits (and risks – but more of that in the next section). Some of the benefits are:


With cloud services such as cloud bursting, organizations can seamlessly increase or decrease their computing resources as needed, ensuring that they always have the resources they need, without slowdowns or excess unused capacity.

Cost Savings

Many cloud file storage services offer a payment model that is based on consumption, meaning that businesses only pay for what they use.


With cloud file storage fully integrated, employees can access their data and applications from anywhere there’s internet access. This has been particularly valuable in the era of work-from-home or remote work.


Major cloud providers typically offer highly reliable services with built-in redundancy and disaster recovery capabilities, which can help businesses minimize downtime and maintain the continuity of operations.


On-premises security often means that you are exclusively responsible for keeping files secure. With cloud-based file storage, however, you have access to tremendous resources that are dedicated to keeping the information in the cloud file storage system secure. Cloud providers often have robust security measures in place to protect their customers’ data, which can be more secure than on-premises data storage.


Cloud services can facilitate collaboration between teams by providing a centralized location for storing and sharing data and applications.


With moving to the cloud, you can access the incredible innovation that comes with cloud storage. For example, many modern applications are built to run exclusively on the cloud.

Cloud Storage in Enterprises – Security Flaws

As enterprises increasingly adopt cloud file storage, a number of security flaws and risks have become apparent. In fact, IBM research shows that 45% of data breaches are cloud-based. Drivers of these security flaws are primarily:

Increased Attack Surface

Whereas an on-premises server is relatively difficult to attack, data stored in the cloud has an ever-expanding attack surface that can be compromised. Trends such as BYOD (bring your own device) have brought this vulnerability into the headlines, as enterprises scramble to secure this attack surface.

Lack of Visibility and Tracking

With cloud data, by definition, not sitting on-premises, there is an inbuilt lack of visibility and ability to track data. CISOs and system administrators struggle to keep up, which only increases the security risks relating to cloud file storage.

Dynamic Workloads

Many cloud services automatically scale, which from a cost and resource perspective is a benefit, but from a security perspective introduces additional risk. Security tools often struggle to adapt to the pace of ever-changing resource usage.

DevOps, DevSecOps, and Automation

With new methodologies and processes being implemented, such as CI/CD, security that is not baked in early can become a liability that is difficult to control later on in the process.

Cloud Compliance and Governance

With an increasingly complex cloud environment, compliance and particularly the audit process around compliance, becomes exceedingly challenging. Regulations companies commonly need to comply with include:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Digital Charter Implementation Act (DCIA)
  • Act on the Protection of Personal Information (APPI)
  • Privacy and Data Protection (PDP)

Additionally, organizations that want to be certified against certain standards such as ISO27001 and SOC2, have added hurdles that must be overcome.

Multiple entry points

From an attacker’s perspective, there are numerous ways to access users’ accounts. Not only directly, but also indirectly through compromising third parties. As files are shared within the organization and beyond, these risk factors increase exponentially.

GDPR Regulatory Demands for Enterprises

Applicable since May 2018, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a set of regulations aimed at protecting data privacy. It applies to European companies, and companies serving users in Europe – meaning almost any company today.

What’s important to bear in mind is that while most cloud storage providers are themselves GDPR compliant, this is as “data processors” are defined in the GDPR regulations, companies providing services, as the “data controller” (in most cases), are the ones that will be liable for any data breaches or non-compliance.

The following must therefore be carefully considered when looking at GDPR and cloud file storage:

Location of data

Data must be stored in the EU. There are some exceptions, but data sovereignty is a critical element of GDPR and one extremely relevant to cloud file storage.

Data accessibility

Many of the requirements of GDPR as it pertains to data and data storage, mean that data has to be accessible quickly, and necessary changes have to be effected in a short space of time. Requirements such as the so-called “right to be forgotten” mean that organizations have to be able to access and delete data at will.

Data protection

GDPR promotes taking all precautions necessary to protect data. Therefore, when assessing cloud file storage in light of such requirements, elements such as data encryption, backup, and data breach remediation options become critical.

The GDPR regulations are very much enforced

It’s important to note that one of the biggest fines levied for breaching GDPR regulations was against Amazon, or more specifically, Amazon Europe. In this case, the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection fined Amazon the equivalent of $888m for non-compliance with GDPR principles.

Interestingly, the largest fine before this was also issued to a cloud provider, in this case, Google, for the amount of €50m. Another relevant case is Marriott, which famously experienced a significant data breach that was at one stage estimated to cost the company billions in damages.


Robust Cloud Storage Security – the Pillars

The main pillars of robust cloud storage security are the following:

Ransomware protection

Ransomware has grown to become a key threat to organizations, often exploiting vulnerabilities to gain access to an organization’s cloud storage, moving laterally within an organization to inflict maximum damage.

With an industry-leading global file system, organizations can now instantaneously regain access to data, eliminate downtime, and ensure sensitive data doesn’t make it into attackers’ hands.

Part of robust cloud storage security is an effective backup solution, enterprise-grade antivirus, ransomware protection, immutable snapshots, as well as a zero-trust architecture. Ensure your cloud storage solution offers all of this in one package before trusting your data to their cloud.

Secure encryption

Best practices for robust cloud storage security as it pertains to encryption include:

Private Cloud: look for an entirely private solution that is deployed completely within your firewall, on any on-premises or cloud infrastructure. This ensures that no one else has access to your data, encryption keys, or any other sensitive information.

Military-Grade Encryption: the highest level of cloud storage security incorporates source-based encryption at rest (AES-256), as well as in transit (TLS 1.2). This means that your data is secured before it even leaves your devices or servers.

Data Governance: critical here is role-based access control, with granular event logging to ensure compliance when it comes to storage and collaboration.

CTERA offers all of these pillars, which is why CTERA’s field-proven file services platform is used by the US Department of Defense and federal agencies for the storage of classified data.
Click here to see CTERA’s robust cloud storage security for yourself.

Intelligent routing

Instead of being tied to one cloud storage solution, the best practice today is to enable intelligent routing, where a number of cloud storage providers – and on-premises object storage systems – can be utilized more efficiently and effectively. This is also critical when it comes to data sovereignty and GDPR compliance.

Secure Cloud File Storage – a Better Business Outcome

Increased collaboration

With secure file storage, employees have the confidence to share and access files without having to second guess whether they are genuine, and without having to worry that they have just been compromised by attackers. Secure file storage also means that some friction-filled security products can be removed or dialed down, ensuring that your workforce can focus on their jobs without being hindered by inelegant security.

More effective performance

Secure file storage means that files are there when you need them, wherever and whenever that may be, no matter the device or operating system. Especially when it comes to mission-critical applications, there should be instantaneous access to your most important data.

Significant cost savings

Object storage solutions can reduce costs by up to 80%, along with providing increases in performance. Part of this is that best-in-class file storage systems can perform effective deduplication on cached data and in the cloud.

Moreover, cloud egress fees are minimized, and no heavy investment in on-premises servers is required, as a secure cloud file storage solution can provide all the security features of an on-premises solution, together with the benefits of the cloud.

Conclusion – Cloud File Storage and Security as the Springboard to Success

Business is moving to a cloud-centric future – researchers predict that worldwide cloud end-user spending will reach almost $600 billion in 2023, increasing by 22% over the previous year. But not all clouds are created equal. Leading cloud file storage solutions incorporate cutting-edge security together with increased productivity.

Your cloud storage solution should answer problems, not create new ones. With CTERA, you get all the benefits of secure file storage, with none of the risks – which is why it is consistently chosen as a file storage leader.

GigaOm Radar for Distributed Cloud File Storage 2022

To learn more, or see it in action for yourself, book a session with a cloud file expert.


What is a global file system?
A global file system is a method of storing and accessing data, where the distributed file system can be accessed from multiple locations concurrently. It creates a single global namespace for all of an organization’s files.

What are the advantages of a global file system?
The best global file systems, such as that provided by CTERA, offer infinite cloud storage capacity as well as significant cost reductions. CTERA’s global file system also offers LAN-speed file access, modern multi-site collaboration, and comprehensive data protection for all users, wherever they may be.

What is a distributed file system?
A distributed file system is a file system that is distributed across multiple file servers or multiple locations.

What are the types of cloud storage?
Generally speaking, there are 5 types of cloud storage:

  1. Private clouds
  2. Public clouds
  3. Hybrid clouds
  4. Multi-clouds
  5. High-performance computing cloud

What is cloud storage orchestration?
Cloud storage orchestration is the automation of the tasks necessary to manage connections and operations of workloads on the cloud.

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