Cybersecurity is a business aspect that managers in America understandably often put on the back burner. They want to focus on operations — and preventing data breaches is a complicated distraction they’d rather have someone else take care of.
This is partly why the cloud is attractive to companies. Cloud service providers (CSPs) tout extensive security measures that keep their clients’ data safe from hackers. Still, reputable CSPs will tell you that securing data in the cloud is a shared responsibility (and that you should be wary of those who claim otherwise). We know, we know...cybersecurity is a pain, especially since knowing where to start is tough — which is why we’re sharing with you the best cloud security practices today:
Exhaustively discuss your shared responsibilities with your CSP
The job of the provider is to ensure service availability, which in part means keeping their systems safe from those who would steal their clients’ data. This entails always applying hardware and software vulnerability patches as soon as these become available, among other things.
However, cloud users also have their part to play. For example, they must use strong passwords for their accounts, and they can enhance security by implementing multifactor authentication. Therefore, becoming aware of each other’s responsibilities is the first step to ensuring that all bases are covered when it comes to cloud security.
Encrypt your data
One of the best ways to protect your data is to make it unreadable to unauthorized parties. There are many scenarios wherein data is very vulnerable to theft, such as during cloud migrations and routine server upgrades. Ask your cloud vendor about how they encrypt data that’s moving to, residing in, and moving from their clouds.
There are many types of encryption —- but some of these are outdated and must no longer be used. You’ll want to choose a cloud vendor that can provide reliable encryption methods that are appropriate for the type and quantity of data you handle.
Institute data deletion protocols
There will be many instances in which you’ll delete data in the cloud. Perhaps you’ve discovered apps or instances that you no longer need and want to recover data storage space. Maybe the retention period for a particular type of data has elapsed (e.g., electronic protected health information must remain accessible for six years as per HIPAA regulations). It could also be that your project with a client is finished and you no longer need to keep the data related to it.
Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to put data deletion policies in place so that:
● Data is recoverable in case deletion is accidental or contrary to data regulations. ● Data is gone without a trace when you intend it to be irretrievable by anyone. ● Data deletion complies with data regulations.
Assign appropriate access rights
One of the best ways to protect your data is by managing who has access to it. You’ll want to:
● Rank your data according to importance and apply the appropriate level of security stringency. This allows you to focus your efforts on critical data. ● Grant staff only the minimum access rights they need to accomplish their tasks. ● Rescind access rights as soon as these are no longer necessary: ○ Employee is no longer affiliated with the organization. ○ Third parties that were allowed access no longer need it.
Surveil your cloud environment
With malware threats becoming sneakier by the day, some of these can get through and hide from your defenses. They tend to bide their time before striking. At other times, insiders such as corporate spies and disgruntled employees are the ones who exfiltrate data. You need to have cloud monitors to spot suspicious activities and nip data breaches in the bud.
Train your staff in cloud security
Many data breaches occur because of employees who didn’t know of cybersecurity best practices. For instance, they may leave their computer unlocked while they’re logged in to the cloud. This allows bad actors to simply do as they please while the real account holder is away.
However, such security lapses are more likely to be prevented if staff members are trained to follow cloud security protocols. You’ll also want to train your team on how they must respond to data breaches should these occur.
“When it comes to cloud security, cloud users also have their part to play.”
Regularly perform penetration tests
Despite the best efforts between you and your CSP, security gaps may still form without either of you knowing it. Cybercriminals will always be on the lookout for these gaps, so it’s best if you and your CSP are looking for them, too. Spotting vulnerabilities is what penetration tests are for.
If your CSP offers penetration tests as part of its service, then have them perform these regularly. If not, you’ll have to coordinate with your vendor to allow you or a service provider to do the tests. When a penetration test does discover a security gap, that’s the perfect opportunity to see how well your staff can put their data breach response training into practice.