Secure Workplace

Best Practices for Cloud Security - Protecting Your Data

by Henry Maria 03.09.19

According to Eurostat, 42% of UK businesses are currently using some form of cloud computing. And with more and more companies becoming aware of the cloud’s countless advantages and innovations, that percentage is rapidly increasing. Cloud computing and hybrid cloud solutions are increasing businesses’ scalability and mobility, drastically reducing costs and innovating their services. When controlled carefully, it can also be beneficial towards cybersecurity – safeguarding even the most sensitive and highly-regulated data.

But how do you ensure your cloud security is watertight? Along with high-cost savings, cloud computing also brings high risks and threats. Threats such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and Man In the Middle attacks, loss of access, data loss, and web server vulnerabilities. And although most cloud providers do offer integrated security tools, it’s crucial to put your own procedures in place when storing sensitive data. From educating personnel and regularly conducting audits and risk assessments to encrypting data in-house and implementing multiple layers of security, there are many ways of ensuring absolute security to increase network visibility and control. If you are thinking about migrating your data to the cloud, implementing a hybrid cloud solution – or if you’re planning to adopt a more rigorous security system – be sure to consider the following processes…

Perform a Thorough Security Audit

Carefully assessing any potential security threats is an essential part of cloud maintenance. By conducting a careful security audit, you’ll be able to identify any gaps between the cloud’s security measures and your business’s own Network Access Security Policy. There is a range of security features that need to be measured:

  • Management (centralised management for consistent security policy, vulnerability patching, security application updates and alerting)
  • Security Intelligence (emerging malware and threats to provide timely detection)
  • Compliance (internal and external compliance requirement)
  • Segmentation (segmentation of data, devices and users)
  • Threat Defence (ability to detect, prevent, eliminate or contain cyber threats)
  • Secure Services (access control, VPN, secure email, data-loss prevention)

Backup Data Locally

To stay on the safe side, it’s a good idea to back-up your data locally, so that it’s always accessible even if the original gets lost or corrupted. You can either do this manually, stored in an external storage device, or automatically using an additional cloud service. Before choosing a backup provider, it’s important to research each service thoroughly, until you find one that’s trustworthy, secure and fitting with your business’s requirements.

Be sure to consider features such as encryption, scalability, automatic or scheduled backup, and file versioning. But remember, the features you require will be dependent on the nature of your data – file versioning (a tool that allows users to return to the previous version of a file) isn’t recommended for data where updates are vital, while encryption tools are essential when backing-up sensitive data.

Encrypt Data Before It’s Stored in the Cloud

Most major cloud service providers will encrypt your data both at-rest and in-transit. This means your content will be scrambled into an incoherent code – one that can only be deciphered by those with a decryption key – both when the data is moving into the cloud and when it’s static. Although this encryption is mostly effective, it still doesn’t guarantee absolute security, making it an ineffective way of handling sensitive data.

Just as the cloud service is responsible for scrambling your data, it’s also responsible for holding the key that unlocks it. To ensure absolute security, it’s important that the decryption key is only held by yourself as well as trained and trusted personnel. Encrypting data before it’s transferred to the cloud is the most effective way to do this, by using an encryption tool that’s external to your cloud provider.

Make Employees Aware of a Security Policy

Enforcing a strict cyber-security policy in place is essential in any business. It should be comprehensive enough to cover all aspects of cloud computing, encompassing everything from passwords and data location storage to incident response procedures. Make sure every member of staff has a full understanding of the policy, not just IT teams. After all, a small slip-up from one member of staff is all it takes for data to be hacked or leaked. Hosting regular cyber-security sessions are a good way to ensure that every employee is thoroughly aware of their security responsibilities. As well as explaining the policy in detail, be sure to highlight the effect that security breaches can have on the company, as this impact is likely to encourage staff to take security seriously.

Choose Exhaustive, Up-To-Date Security Tools

Most cloud service providers offer a range of security add-on tools, which allow users to scale their cloud security to the nature of their data. For example, those dealing with highly-regulated, sensitive data could use tools such as Data Classification and Secrets Management, while all users should consider firewalls and threat detection tools. When subscribing to a cloud service, be sure to research any additional security products that are offered with the service, until you find the tools that are best suited to your business.

Once your cloud is sufficiently safeguarded, it’s imperative that these tools are regularly updated. Security software and appliances are constantly being improved to keep ahead of hackers – holes are regularly repaired, while any bugs are removed and fixed – so be sure to use the most recent version for absolute security.

Use a Managed Service Provider

Keeping the cloud secure requires constant management, monitoring, maintenance and updates. This can be especially time-consuming if you’re in an industry that regularly handles sensitive data, as more security procedures are required. One option could be to assign an in-house team to cloud security management – however, this can be expensive, and an in-house team offers little flexibility for quiet periods where less data is being handled.

The most secure solution is to outsource your business’s cloud management to a trusted managed service provider. This means that a third-party, qualified digital team would be responsible for all essential cloud security tasks, from monitoring through to incident response. Not only will this free-up your team’s time to focus on business performance, its scalability means it’s an extremely cost-effective solution.

Here at Forfusion, we understand the importance of cloud security. From implementing security software to providing managed services, our team of security-cleared digital experts can help businesses keep their IT environment as safe and steadfast as possible. To find out more, chat with a member of our team today.

Are you ready to transform your business? Arrange your IT consultation today to discuss your requirements.

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