Cloud computing offers organizations many benefits compared to on-premises data centers. As the financial and operational benefits of storing data in the cloud become more apparent, a greater percentage of companies are taking advantage of them. As of 2022, over 60% of corporate data worldwide is stored in the cloud.
The volume and value of the data stored in the cloud necessitate its protection, and some of the methods employed to protect data in traditional, on-premises environments can also be applied to the cloud. There are also additional measures that need to be taken or modifications of legacy techniques to effectively protect and secure cloud data.
In this article, we’ll review six steps an organization should take to ensure the security of its cloud data.
An organization’s data is a valuable asset, and protecting this resource is essential in the current data-driven business landscape. Data loss can be crippling, with one in eight companies being driven to bankruptcy following a breach.
In this article, we’ll review what data protection is and how organizations can implement reliable solutions. Then we’ll discuss some of the specific reasons data protection is critically important to a company’s health and viability.
Understand the cloud shared security model
The first thing an organization needs to do when working with a cloud provider is to understand how security responsibilities are shared. Cloud providers typically operate under a shared responsibility model that determines if the customer or provider is responsible for specific aspects of securing a cloud environment.
Security responsibility for the cloud infrastructure is dependent on the delivery model. SaaS solutions are primarily the provider's responsibility, with more expected of the customer in PaaS and IaaS implementations. Customers are always responsible for the security of data they create or upload to the cloud.
Companies must understand their responsibilities in protecting cloud data or risk an oversight that could lead to a vulnerability and a potential breach. Simply trusting the cloud provider to secure valuable data is not a viable option.
Develop a backup and recovery strategy
A reliable backup and recovery strategy is an essential component of cloud data protection. Even with the modern, cutting-edge technology available from top cloud providers, there is always the chance that data will be lost or corrupted. Without backups, this can pose a major problem and potentially put a company out of business.
Recovery tests should be performed to verify the validity of the process. Nothing is worse than facing a real disaster and discovering that your backup plan was insufficient for your recovery requirements. Backing up cloud data to alternate regions or locations affords additional protection by eliminating the chances of being impacted by a major failure of the provider infrastructure.
Encrypt all data
All sensitive and high-risk data should be encrypted at all times, including while it is in storage, being used by applications, and as it is being transmitted across a network. Encryption protects the data from unauthorized access in the event of a data breach.
Encryption is a processor-intensive activity that may not be necessary for all data resources within an organization. Data classification can categorize information assets so encryption can only be enforced on the specific resources that warrant the extra protection.
Implement multi-factor authentication
One of the benefits of storing data in the cloud is that it is easily accessible from any location. However, this can also be seen as a potential vulnerability, as hackers or malicious actors can attempt to gain access from outside the organization. With compromised login credentials, a cybercriminal can theoretically steal your valuable cloud data from anywhere in the world.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) makes it much harder for unauthorized personnel to access enterprise data. Authorized users need to provide more than one method of verifying their identity. A common technique of MFA is to send a verification code to a device that belongs to the user requesting access. Without entering this code, access is denied, and the information is protected from misuse.
Enforce the use of strong passwords
Along with MFA, companies should insist that strong passwords be used for access to all applications and enterprise data resources. Passwords should be unique and complex to make them difficult to crack using brute force methods. They should also be changed regularly and not shared with anyone.
Strong passwords are a minimum of 12 characters long and use a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols. In many cases, a phrase that means something to the user can be used to create a strong passphrase or password.
Implement a data loss prevention solution
A data loss prevention (DLP) solution is a valuable part of a comprehensive strategy to protect cloud data. Advanced DLP tools, such as Next DLP’s Reveal platform, offer customers a method of automatically enforcing a data handling policy to ensure all information is used appropriately and securely. For instance, high-value data would be automatically encrypted if an attempt were made to transmit it in human-readable form. See how effective your data loss prevention solution is and validate its policies with our simple DLP Policy Testing Tool.
Reveal delivers machine learning on the endpoint with an intelligent agent that identifies and categorizes data at the point of risk. Baselines are created at deployment and are tuned through the use of behavioral analytics algorithms to identify anomalous activity. The solution’s low-impact agents interact with a cloud-native, multi-tenant platform that provides organizations with fast deployment, flexibility, and immediate visibility into their data resources.
Reveal also classifies data on-the-fly as it is created or ingested into the environment, so it can be handled according to its value and importance to the organization. Lastly, incident-based user training at the point of risk raises employee security IQ and helps further strengthen cloud data protection.
Talk to Next and book a demo to see how Reveal can help keep your cloud data secure.