How to Secure Your Data in the Cloud?7 min read

According to the current DCMS Data Security Breaches Survey of July 2019, almost a third of companies (32% to be precise) have reported cyber security breaches or assaults in the last 12 months. High-profile infringements at British Airways and Marriott Hotels can hit the headlines, but smaller businesses fall prey to cyber criminals on a daily basis. Cyber fraud is costly and is likely to undermine the credibility of an organization. However, even with the increasing complexities of information technologies, securing the data in the cloud is easy if you observe best practice.

In this blog, we’re looking at the cyber threats and applying some handy, useful advice to help you protect the data in the cloud. If you have any questions on cloud security, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us – We are happy to assist you.

Risks to cloud security


The best methods you’ve practised in-house should be followed in the cloud. As the popular phrase goes: there’s no cloud; it’s just someone else’s computer.

Moving to the cloud can mean that you no longer have direct control over your infrastructure, but you still have control over your records. By focusing on reactive cybersecurity rather than constructive security strategy, businesses are leaving themselves vulnerable to a changing threat environment.

Threats come from a number of motivations – crime groups fighting for financial gain; state-sponsored assaults aimed at causing disruption; opportunistic scripting kiddies who spontaneously target weaknesses; and even dissatisfied workers seeking to inflict harm. Cyber attackers also hack, encrypt or erase files, delete vast parts of it during the 4,000 ransomware attacks that happen every day.

The increasing complexity used by hacker groups is a shared trend among recent cyber attacks. Hackers can function within a business network while being invisible. The harm is done well before the organisation realises that they have a problem.

Taking a multi-layer approach to defence, also referred to as in-depth defence, would secure the business data. Only organised defences running through various systems and protocols will defend you against the mixed multi-pronged attacks that we see today.

The positive news is that transitioning to the cloud deals with all of the security challenges that you have already undertaken, so it can ultimately be easier to secure your data in the cloud.

Cloud Security Best Practices

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty – here are few hands-on procedures, rules and aspects to remember when it comes to being secure in the cloud.

Data Minimization

Not all of the data is identical. Many of the data can be obsolete, out-of-date or meaningless, such as personal music files for users. Reducing the amount of data you carry reduces risk, as you can concentrate your security resources only on data that is of use to the business. Minimization of consumer data is a prerequisite of GDPR, but the concept of data deletion across your enterprise can be implemented by a specified and enforced data deletion policy.

Physical security

When you switch to the cloud, you lose control over physical security, which is usually a positive thing.

Very few businesses can afford the manpower or resources to secure their data in-house in the way a cloud company can. Your data centres Should have 24/7 staffed surveillance, CCTV and recording as well as biometric screening for anyone accessing the facility. Data centres also guard against data loss due to natural events, power or connectivity outages and also human error.

Vulnerability and patching
Patch management may sound like a never-ending task, but it’s important to keep the programme running safely. Vulnerabilities of unpatched software are open for exploitation. Large-scale WannaCry attacks have targeted weakness of unpatched Microsoft XP software.

Patch management needs a mechanism for checking, verifying, testing and patching these vulnerabilities; most organisations struggle to do so regularly due to other urgent resource concerns. The cloud platform can track and manage this as part of its operation, keeping bugs to a minimum.

Firewalls

Firewalls are still more than just protecting against network-level hacks, blocking ports and IP addresses (layers 3-4 in the Open Systems Interconnection Model – OSI Model).

They will also look at the application layer (Layer 7) to defend against threats at the application level by making decisions based on SSL inspection, dynamic web traffic filtering, and other functionality such as Data Leak Prevention (DLP) – where confidential data, such as financial information or paper signatures, can be automatically prevented from leaving the network.

Data encryption in transit

All interactions with your cloud providers should take place through the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) transmission to ensure a high degree of security. The SSL can be terminated only inside the network of the cloud provider.

Encryption of data at rest

All data stores should be secured to secure the data in the cloud. If a hack happened, there will be no way to decrypt the actual records. The same method can be applied to local computers.

Lock Down Admin Access 

Restricting admin-level control, such as who can download software or access all data, decreases the chance of infringement as it reduces the number of bugs that can be exploited.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Most people are familiar with 2-factor authentication from their banking applications and, where possible, this solution can be used to secure the data in the cloud, as it offers extra protection with only the username and password. This is especially important for administrators whose accounts have access to much more than the standard user.

DDoS Mitigation

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack will bring the cloud servers to a halt by overwhelming them with internet traffic and requests. Check if your cloud storage provider has a tool to track and avoid such attacks.

Intrusion Detection Solution (IDS)

Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) track networks for suspicious events and mark them as possible risks. More sophisticated IDS programmes will take direct action against these risks.

Management of logs

All actions made on your services should be signed in. These records will indicate that any malicious activity has occurred. Checking logs will allow you to make smarter choices on what additional actions you can need to take to reduce the risk.

Policy

Your organisation should formally describe its security policies and procedures if it has not already done so. These need to be shared within the organisation and to be applied.

People

The greatest security danger in an organisation comes from inside. Much of the violations was the product of someone doing what they shouldn’t have done or something they shouldn’t have done.

Staff must be mindful of security protocols and, when applicable, undergo instruction. The increase in phishing attacks reveals that you need more than just technologies to keep your business safe and stable.

Sophisticated spear phishing attacks lure users to maintain bugs that could be violated. The best way to defend your employees from such threats is to make them mindful of them.

Holistic Security

A strong security strategy blends technologies, policies and individuals. Each of these three elements is required to provide the organisation with multi-layer cyber security protection.

Technology can do most of the work, policy decides what data is required and who has access, and people who are at the centre of every organisation need to implement such rules and ensure a secure approach to their everyday workload.

Security of Your Cloud Platform

When you transfer your data to a cloud provider, you no longer manage the infrastructure, but you also control the protection of your data. The cloud will have layers of security that are difficult to accomplish in-house, but you need to incorporate best practice policies and processes to ensure that you remain safe. “Customers and cloud vendors bear the duty to ensure a high degree of reliability and enforcement. What this sounds like in actual terms depends on the resources being used, so it’s a dialogue to have up front rather than in an emergency.”

“In addition to eliminating potentially awkward conversations at a sensitive moment, it is be clear just what security setup or management activities you, as a client, are responsible for in order to remain secure.”

Cloud vendors understand the need for incredibly tight encryption to secure their customers’ data. Your cloud provider should be able to clarify its security policies that cover your platform and your records. we’re glad to help you. For more details, please contact us today.

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