Best practices in cloud security

cloud skills

Security-conscious business leaders have often avoided cloud computing because they dislike being responsible for data that they don’t directly control.

But cloud-based solutions offer so many advantages in terms of collaborating with vendors, customers, and remote employees that it’s becoming difficult to compete in today’s marketplace using only on-premises systems. Fortunately, cloud security technologies and their capabilities are evolving rapidly. Using these state-of-the-art procedures and security systems, your cloud-based data can be at least as secure as your local data.

IAM Solutions

An identity and access management (IAM) solution guards against unauthorized access and hijacking of data. Your IAM system should use role-based permissions to enforce your existing access policies, so each bit of data is available only to the people you’ve authorized to have access. More importantly, only give the least amount of privileges to users necessary for them to accomplish their job requirements.

Look for a system with multi-factor authentication, so hackers won’t be able to access your data even if they are able to steal an authorized person’s basic credentials. The ideal IAM solution will coordinate access to your internal data as well as your cloud-based data, so your IT staff can keep policies and procedures cohesive for all your users in different environments.

Encrypt Your Data

Your data should be encrypted while at rest and also while it’s moving between your home or business and cloud-based servers. If your cloud provider doesn’t offer suitable encryption services, talk to third-party providers. Look for an encryption program that integrates with your existing system, so it can operate invisibly behind the scenes, rather than requiring staff time and training. Lastly, you should have sole control over the encryption keys, not the vendor or the cloud service provider.

Consider using a Cloud Access Security Broker

A cloud access security broker, also referred to as CASB, is a system that manages the security of the portal between your in-house system and your cloud-based systems. These systems are built to provide the following four pillars of security: Visibility, compliance, data security, and threat protection.

Visibility: with this, you get granular visibility in the number of applications in use, amount of data being uploaded/downloaded to each cloud application, and whether they’re a risky cloud app or a safe one to use.

Compliance: this refers to the security controls necessary to comply with internal policies and external regulations, including HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and other government regulations.

Data security: securing data before it gets to the cloud provider’s data center can be an important factor in protection sensitive information. Encryption and tokenization are two of the most commonly used data security technologies to ensure unauthorized users aren’t able to access sensitive data in the clear.

Threat protection: threats can arise from within or externally. Threat protection refers to the ability to identify external bad actors attempting to compromise an account, or an internal negligent or malicious user attempting to steal valuable corporate data via a cloud service.

Your CASB monitors your system for threats, vulnerabilities, and suspicious behaviors and helps you extend your in-house security protocols to your cloud-based data.

Train Your Employees Well

Human imperfection can be the greatest weakness in your security plan, and it’s the one many IT people will overlook. Without proper training, well-meaning employees might decide to use convenient services that aren’t secure, share sensitive information by email, or give up their passwords to a hacker posing as a colleague. Teach your employees how to recognize and sidestep phishing emails, how to choose strong passwords, and how to handle sensitive data properly.

Understand Shared Responsibility

If your cloud-based data is breached, who is responsible? You or your cloud provider? The answer is that the responsibility is shared between both, with the cloud provider taking responsibility for some aspects of security and you taking ultimate responsibility for your data. Your provider should be able to give you clear documentation breaking down the responsibilities for different aspects of security. You need to understand which aspects of security you are accountable for and make sure you are holding down your end of the bargain.

Your company can take advantage of cloud-based solutions while still taking responsibility for sensitive customer data. You just need a good understanding of what your responsibilities are and a few best-practice solutions in place to seal off any vulnerabilities.