May 15, 2017 • Richard Neisz
How to Protect Your Data by Increasing Cloud Security
For hackers, an unprotected cloud is like a public gold mine that is far easier to dig. Studies find only 8.1% of organizations meet modern cloud security standards, an alarmingly low number. While there are numerous benefits to cloud adoption, the threats are just as prevalent. Exploited vulnerabilities can easily result in corrupted data, system hijackings, and the loss of consumer confidence. For those looking to safely harness the power of cloud technology, here’s how to protect your data by increasing cloud security.
A Public vs. Private Cloud
Deciding between a public or private cloud is a starting point for security strategy, and many struggle with this choice. A public cloud is often cheaper, as your data shares space with other organizations. It’s also quicker to implement, but has vulnerabilities inherent in multiple companies connecting to the same space. If one of these organizations suffers a breach, your data is at risk.
On the other hand, a private cloud is tailored to your business and only your business. There is no shared space, and nobody else is connecting to the realm where your data is held. Due to this level of customization and increased security, a private cloud is more expensive to implement. There is no hard and fast rule, but smaller organizations generally gravitate to a public cloud as it grants them robust capabilities at a lower cost.
Local Backups are Necessary
Regardless of the cloud chosen, there is still room for increasing cloud security. A tech mantra that holds true now more than ever, it’s vital to backup often. The cloud is a wonderful capability-expanding innovation, but it cannot be relied upon 100%. If all your data housed in a cloud suddenly becomes corrupted, your organization must have a way to carry on basic operations.
The truth is most organizations do not have the server space or resources necessary to back up every single piece of data on their own. In such a case, backup the most critical business data, as much as possible, on private business servers. From there, understand what backup capabilities your cloud service provider employs. Some may be automatically backing up all uploads, and some may not.
Likewise, simply pouring every piece of data into a cloud with its own backup is not necessarily the best strategy. Certain sensitive pieces of information are best left completely out of the reach of any cloud. Thoughtfully choosing what type of data should enter a cloud environment is a necessary part of any strong cloud security plan.
Defense Through Data Encryption
One of the most common strategies to protect your data in the cloud is through encrypting it. Some cloud services offer their own levels of encryption, wherein they password protect or scramble your data prior to placing it in their environment. Then, when you want to access your data, it is quickly decoded into its normal discernable format.
Regardless of whether your cloud service encrypts data or not, you can still personally encrypt the data prior to another organization even touching it to achieve a second layer of security. A new “Rowhammer” cloud attack method has been able to beat many encryption programs by stealing the keys. While double encryption may slow things down, it will still be worth the extra security to combat such attacks.
IoT Technology Vulnerabilities
Your data in the cloud can be accessed through any internet connection, and it’s easy to forget about many “smart” tech devices in a business. The Internet of Things revolution has brought us smart phones, smart TVs, and even smart light bulbs, but each of these items can bring a vulnerability to your cloud. Consider every device at your business that has internet capabilities, and turn off that function if it is not truly necessary. Considering that Target’s massive 2013 breach was orchestrated through an internet-enabled air conditioning system, IoT is not something to ignore.
Don’t Overlook the Little Things
With so many high-level measures for increasing cloud security, it’s important not to overlook the more common actions that can keep your environment safe. Requiring employees to use intricate passwords and change them regularly is a basic strategy, and yet 90% of passwords can be cracked within an hour. Even more surprising, over 10,500 organizations neglected to even bother with a password for their database software, and succumbed to a recent widespread security breach.
In addition to passwords, educate employees on how to notice suspicious activity or spot questionable links. Update software often, as updates contain security patches for vulnerabilities. Implement proven antivirus software that doesn’t just catch a breach after the fact, but is proactive and alerts you to any attempts being made against your cloud. Lastly, read the small print in agreements with your cloud service provider to understand what rights they are claiming to your data.
Increasing Cloud Security
The average company has over 23 cloud-related security incidents each month. When it only takes one to cause devastation, it’s clear that cloud security must be a priority and a concrete plan is necessary. Security strategy is a critical business area where engaging with IT consulting experts can be cost-effective and the most efficient way to move forward. For those looking for cloud security assistance, Smart Resources can provide the expertise needed to ease your mind.
For additional strategies to move your organization forward, download Your Start-to-Finish Guide to Implementing Vital Business Intelligence Strategies today.