Developing a cloud security strategy

One of the primary drivers of cloud adoption is enhanced security. A recent McAfee report found that 52 percent of organizations experience better security in the cloud than with an on-premise environment. Still, that doesn’t mean your data and systems aren’t vulnerable in the cloud. This is why having a solid cloud security strategy is so important.

Cloud vulnerabilities every business should know

The cloud may be safer than housing your servers on-site, but it’s not impenetrable. Hackers go after business data in the cloud all the time, exposing vulnerabilities and putting many organizations at risk of data loss. These vulnerabilities can include:

  • Unauthorized use of cloud services, also known as shadow IT
  • Internet-accessible APIs
  • Incomplete data deletion
  • Stolen credentials

While it’s easy to assume you can avoid these vulnerabilities if you choose the best cloud vendor, the reality is, most cloud security breaches are rooted in a lack of internal controls. Gartner predicted that by 2022, 95 percent of cloud security failures would be the fault of the cloud customer, not the provider.

So, what can cloud users do to keep business data safe?

The essentials of a strong cloud security strategy

These are the steps you can take to reduce the risk of a cloud security failure as much as possible.

Ensure the right employees have access to the correct files

One of the most critical steps to secure your business in the cloud is access management. It’s important to be careful about which users are authorized to use specific applications and to control access based on a user’s role within your organization. You can talk to your cloud security provider about implementing role-based permissions to data.

Use two-factor authentication

Using two-factor authentication is an important way to add another layer of security. Enable two-factor authentication with every cloud service your business uses. Then, when a user attempts to sign in from an unrecognized device, they will have to enter a one-time generated code sent via text message and email. This step is a simple safeguard that verifies the user and prevents an unwanted user from gaining access.

Encrypt sensitive data

Today data encryption is more than a best practice. There are many government regulations that require organizations to encrypt sensitive data including personally identifiable information (PII) and financial information. With data encryption, you can protect data both while it’s in storage and in transit between cloud applications. Your cloud provider will include data encryption, but you can take cloud security a step further with your own encryption by using tools such as a cloud access security broker.

Perform regular tests to make sure the cloud environment is secure

Even with cloud security best practices in place, you still could have vulnerabilities you don’t know about. Hackers are always developing more sophisticated methods — through regular testing, you can ensure your system is able to stand up against the most advanced data breach threats. Comprehensive cloud security tests will verify the security of your cloud-based systems and apps, identify vulnerabilities, and measure how susceptible your cloud environment is too common attacks such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting.

Cloud backup

The cloud automatically backs up your data so that you always know it’s secure. If your computer crashes or the internet goes out, you’ll be able to easily access it again from where you left off. And since the data is not stored in the typical style on a physical machine, you can have unlimited backups and disaster recovery measures. For example; if a natural disaster destroys your server, data recovery time is cut in half and is a simpler process with less hassle.

A proactive approach to cloud security

With cloud security, your business can experience all the business benefits of a cloud model including enhanced productivity, better flexibility, and scalability, while also knowing your data is protected.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing amount of work is happening in the cloud as organizations transition to a remote-work model to meet social distancing guidelines. This makes it even more critical to focus on cloud security from the beginning rather than leaving your systems vulnerable to opportunistic cyberattackers.