Cloud Security explained: 1 technical term, 0 complicated charts

May 14, 2015

Updated: Current principles for the processing of user data by Kaspersky Lab security solutions and technologies can be found here.

Cloud-based security approach is not a novelty, but it gets a lot of attention lately, most likely because everything today is “in the cloud”. Your smartphone’s contacts, photos, e-mails, music, purchased movies and books is now mostly stored somewhere else, not on your computer or mobile device.

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We often get questions like “how does it work” or “is my personal information safe” or “why don’t you just use cloud security only, if it’s so good”. Here we will try to answer some of the most popular questions. But, to keep things simple, we tried to avoid all technical terms, except one — the very “cloud security”.

What’s up with the cloud?

“Clouds” are about storing or processing data some place else, making access to information convenient and connecting people for a mutual benefit. What is “cloud security” then? Our own implementation of a cloud security model is called Kaspersky Security Network. And here we’ll explain how it actually works.

If you have, let’s say, Kaspersky Internet Security installed on your PC or Mac, it continually checks it for infection. The “traditional” security technology do most of the job offline and sometimes they download an update from Kaspersky lab. This traditional approach requires about an hour to respond to a new threat.

In a modern world an hour is sometimes too much. What if the file you’re opening or a web page you’re loading cannot be deemed malicious immediately, but looks suspicious to our product? That’s where Kaspersky Security Network kicks in.

Using this cloud security network, you can ask other users, if they did see a similar object lately. Was it suspicious as well? You can also ask our security experts (these guys are working 24/7 in different countries), what does they think about it. Based on this conversation the cloud security network gives you advice: hey, this file or web page is way too suspicious, you’d better not open it.

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Of course, you don’t ask all those questions personally, that would be too complicated. Our security solutions do all this work automatically. From a technical point of view it’s a bit more complicated, but now you get the core idea, how Kaspersky Security Network works.

In short, for some of those cyber threats it reduces response time (i.e. the time between a cyber-criminal starts an attack to the time when attack is blocked) from hours to minutes!

<h3>OK, sounds cool. Why don’t security companies use only that cloud technology?</h3>

Without other, traditional technologies, Kaspersky Security Network could not be efficient. Our security solution is like a private detective assigned to your computer. Without network access, it is capable of detecting vast majority of attacks using its expertise and tools.

Cloud security helps to bring this result even closer to a hundred, and to make it fast. However, sending all data to the cloud, instead of consulting about a few suspicious objects could consume your data plan and take too much time to process — we don’t want that.

Is my personal data safe? Do you process it?

Yes, it is completely safe. More than that, speaking in terms of law, Kaspersky Security Network doesn’t process any personal data. Getting your photos, documents or emails and storing it somewhere never is the goal as well. The goal is to look for suspicious objects, more specifically, not even files themselves, but their behaviour, analyse how bad guys are conducting their attacks and block them.

Actually, Kaspersky Security Network is designed to process as little information as possible. And there’re good reasons for this: we want to make data transmission really fast and secure (i.e. encrypted). So transmitting, encrypting, storing and then decrypting any data unnecessary to complete the main goal, which is to detect new threats, would be waste of resources.

Our general rule is that we use Kaspersky Security Network to, let’s say, identify the most widespread threats in a particular country, to protect our clients in this country better. But we don’t track a particular user.

Can I opt out of Kaspersky Security Network? And will my computer be vulnerable if so?

Yes, you can disable Kaspersky Security Network (or turn it back on) at any time. When you opt out, our product stops sending data from you to the cloud system. This won’t decrease your own level of protection, you will be getting latest and updates in any case.

However, cloud security works a bit like mass vaccination, because the behaviour of computer malware is very similar to that of biologic viruses, especially the ability to poly-morph. When a few people avoid it, it won’t affect public health (or security in our case).

When the majority stops using it, everyone becomes vulnerable. Thus, participating in Kaspersky Security Network is also important because it helps to make cyber world a better and safer place. But taking part in this effort is definitely up to you.