Combining big data and the cloud is the perfect solution for a company's computing needs. A company's data often requires a computing environment which can quickly and effectively grow and flex, automatically accommodating large amounts of data. The cloud computing environment does just that. There is one question which continually arises when discussing cloud computing.

How secure is the cloud?

Securing data, especially big data is a major concern. Companies expect that any data stored in the cloud will be secured and that the security measures will be flexible to keep up with a changing threat environment. There are four ways to keep your big data secure in the cloud. Each will keep your data safe and yet provide the flexibility that is inherent to using the cloud.

1. Encrypt Your Sensitive Data

Encrypting your data provides another level of security within your cloud infrastructure. Each security solution must be customized to the project and the data. There is no single type of encryption that will work for every situation. Certain types of premise gateway encryption solutions do not work well with cloud big data situations. Other solutions, including encryption provided by the cloud provider, ask the end user to rely on someone else to encrypt their data. This is often a risky proposition and most companies will not agree.

Encryption solutions such as split-key encryption were developed specifically for data storage in the cloud. These technologies keep the cloud data safe, providing encryption keys which the customer holds and uses.

Split-key encryption is the safest and most effective means of encrypting cloud-based data.

2. Use cloud security technologies which can be scaled to meet changing requirements.

When it comes to big data, solutions must quickly scale to meet the demand. This is the same for security technologies for cloud data. Ensure any cloud security technology you choose is available and relevant across any and all cloud locations. Additionally, to be effective, any cloud security solution must be able to quickly scale to meet demands and changing requirements.

Because of the inability to quickly scale and grow, hardware solutions are not a viable option for securing cloud big data. It is not possible to adapt a hardware security module (HSM) quickly enough to meet continuously changing data security requirements.

Only a cloud-based solution will provide the ease and efficiency to scale quickly in response to demand. These solutions are just as, if not more effective than hardware-based technologies. Additionally, cloud based solutions such as CDNs provide security and are also allow for faster working sites and tools.

3. Automate where possible

Many companies are not happy with traditional cloud security solutions because they will not scale quickly to meet demand. Standard encryption technologies typically use an HSM element in their design. Since hardware cannot be automated, these security solutions are limited in their effectiveness within the cloud.

The best cloud security solutions use virtual appliances instead of hardware within their systems. It is also important to ensure an effective RESTful API is part of any cloud security solution.

A cloud security solution which includes a RESTful API and a virtual appliance will provide the automation and flexibility required to secure cloud big data.

4. Never compromise on data security

Cloud big data security solutions are often a complicated business. As a result, we often see systems which are not quite as comprehensive as they should be. Some cloud security systems designers will take a shortcut to get around the complexities involved in securing big data.

For example, some systems will use freeware and their encryption tools to secure the data. They may keep the encryption keys in a physical location or on a disc which provides an opportunity for them to be lost or stolen. Using these types of shortcuts can certainly be easier, but they do not provide a viable security solution for cloud data storage.

Companies must protect their data by mapping and reviewing the sensitivity of their data and then designing a cloud security solution to ensure it is protected. The right security solution can provide great results. Remember, not all cloud data storage is secure. If you have very sensitive or regulated data, you may need to search for another security solution to keep your data protected.