Companies are turning to cloud computing as a cost-effective, secure, and scalable way to store their data, streamline collaboration, and access new capabilities without the enormous capital expenditures that normally come with a new technology purchase.
As the trend toward “digital transformation” advances, more organizations are moving their core business operations to cloud platforms. However, with this shift, the question of data security often arises.
After all, storing sensitive information on remote servers can seem risky, but is it really? The answer is complex. We wrote this article to help you better understand the topic and keep your data safe in the new cloud era.
Cloud data is quite secure by nature, and big cloud providers like Microsoft, Google, and others employ skilled cybersecurity technicians to ensure that customer data is well protected. Here are some of the ways that cloud data are generally safer than onside data.
Cloud providers take the necessary steps to update their network infrastructure, and they do so by applying patches and updates to the hardware and software that power their data centers.
Patch management is an important step toward optimizing and securing an IT system. Applying updates to fix vulnerabilities and maintain proper security practices reduces the "attack surface" of your network and keeps hackers from exploiting the most well-known vulnerabilities.
Another important aspect of cloud security is 24/7 security monitoring. Cloud providers have well-staffed teams of security experts who monitor their systems around the clock. They watch for unusual network activity that could indicate a security breach, a layer of security that no small-or medium-sized business could match when they store their data in internal systems.
Cloud providers also have backup systems in place to ensure data availability in case of a disaster. All cloud data are backed up to other services, so even if one server fails, there is another that can take its place. This helps prevent data loss and ensures that businesses can access their information, even during an outage.
Big cloud providers also hire third-party firms to perform audits of their services. These audits help identify any security vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. By doing this, cloud providers are demonstrating their commitment to security and helping build trust with their customers.
Finally, cloud providers have a range of security monitoring tools that they use to detect and respond to security threats. These tools help prevent attacks, monitor traffic, and protect against data breaches.
Although cloud storage providers take numerous steps to ensure the safety of their data, there is no guarantee of complete security.
So, what gives? The major issue is that the nature of cloud data security is different from on-premises security, a reality which many small and midsized businesses haven’t fully adapted to yet.
Businesses that have committed to the cloud will need to take time to ensure that their systems are configured for maximum security. Here are a few first steps all businesses should take to secure their cloud applications:
Most cloud services provide encryption for your data once it reaches their service, but to protect data at every stage of the business, businesses should employ what’s known as “end-to-end encryption”.
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a secure communication method where the data is encrypted on the sender's device, transmitted in encrypted form, and decrypted only on the recipient’s device, which in this case is the cloud service. E2EE provides a layer of protection against these security threats, ensuring that the data remain confidential and secure.
In the absence of E2EE, cloud data is vulnerable to interception by hackers or other malicious actors who may gain access to it by exploiting vulnerabilities in the cloud provider’s security infrastructure. There are several ways to achieve this.
The average medium-sized organization employs 3.4 public clouds and 3.9 private clouds, according to the above-mentioned Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report, as well as around 110 SaaS services. Each service is a potential attack vector.
Strong password management is critical to preventing unauthorized access to your cloud data.
This starts when you develop a comprehensive password policy. Many employees reuse passwords for work and personal accounts to make them more memorable. Doing so is a huge security red flag. Frequently used passwords are the first targets of hackers attempting a “brute force” attack, where they use a leaked password database to try to force their way into a network.
A strong password should be complex, incorporating a blend of long sequences of letters, numbers, and special characters. In the past, having a password with over eight characters was enough to discourage most cybercriminals, but this was no longer the case. In 2022, 93% of brute force password attacks involved passwords with over 8 characters, and 41% had over 12 characters.
It is crucial to educate your personnel on recognizing how to handle data in the cloud. Intrusion attempts can take many different shapes in 2023, such as phishing emails, malware, and spoofed website pages.
Giving your employees regular training sessions helps them stay aware of the latest attacks and teaches them how to handle data to maximize the impact of your cyber protections. They should also be trained to report any suspicious activity to the IT department.
Major cloud providers have a very high degree of network uptime, but they’re not 100% reliable. Weather events, internet connectivity issues, and other factors can all disrupt access to cloud data. That makes it important that you have a redundant copy of critical data stored in a third-party location, so your team isn’t fully dependent on the cloud.
Not all cloud services provide the same level of security, and it’s important to vet your cloud vendors to ensure they meet your security needs, especially if your business handles personally identifiable information (PII) or has compliance requirements, such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, or FINRA/SEC.
Not all data loss occurs because of external threats like hackers or natural disasters. Internal threats, such as disgruntled staff, employees leaving the company, and unauthorized company device usage, can compromise your cloud data. Deploying internal security controls and regularly monitoring your cloud environment is important to preventing internal data breaches.
The security measures that we’ve written about here are just the tip of the iceberg, of course. Businesses in Tampa that want to truly maximize their security protections will want to enlist a seasoned security partner like LNS Solutions.
Feel free to contact us anytime!