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Written by Robert Bond on 19 August 2022

Protecting Data in the Cloud

Cloud Data Protection Best Practices

 

Modern-day businesses have adopted cloud computing to lend a touch of digital transformation to their present infrastructure, and many have benefitted from the same. However, in the race to stay relevant and competitive in the digital era, enterprises sometimes overlook the most crucial aspect of cloud adoption, security.

 

As much as cloud computing has altered the Information Technology landscape, bringing new features and functionality to the fore, it has made cloud security an indispensable cog in the IT machinery.

 

Why Data Breaches Occur in Cloud Service

Although the cloud has opened doors to unprecedented opportunities to digitize services and remodel operations, there are instances where business owners fall short of their expectations in terms of return on their cloud investments. The prime reason is security and compliance risk, which makes cloud adoption an overwhelming task.

When you consider the lack of testing, vulnerability management, ransomware prevention, backups, and access permissions coupled with a reactive approach to address the complexity of safe configuration, these obstacles can be a gateway to data breaches and significant barriers to cloud adoption.

Cloud services are relatively simple to access, and workers, particularly the ones working remotely, tend to register for free services like Dropbox and Google Drive. More often than not, the IT security team remains blind to these activities.

Also, the trending remote work culture and IoT make cloud storage a necessity, resulting in creating gaps in an organization’s security posture.

 

Factors Increasing Security Complexity

 

Here are three factors that contribute to the increase in security complexity.

 

Hybrid environments

On-premise data centers provide the fine-grained command over the server framework. However, the advent of cloud computing has introduced the concept of hybrid work environments. Employees switch between the office and remote set-ups and carry office devices to from home to work, making hybrid workspaces a breeding ground for cyber security threats. The absence of safety measures in such work environments makes them profoundly challenging to screen.

Conventional workspaces have set access parameters to regulate remote endpoints and manage device sprawl. On the other hand, Hybrid work environments make it extremely hard to monitor endpoints. With cloud applications and services enabling companies to support a remote workforce, securing data has become even more intricate as a process.

Data Security Regulations

With the government introducing new data protection guidelines, businesses make necessary changes to their infrastructure for compliance purposes. These changes may require a considerable investment of time and money.

That implies the pressure on businesses to adhere to security regulations is a contributing factor in the complexity of their IT ecosystem, especially their cloud initiatives.

 

BYOD Culture

Recently, there has been an increase in the trend to promote BYOD culture for different reasons. While less stringent BYOD practices allow for improved adaptability to remote work, they also present challenges for security personnel, particularly regarding data security.

 

Common Data Security Pitfalls

One of the biggest misconceptions in the IT industry is that investing in security protocols makes businesses data breach-proof. With the emergence of cloud storage, many business owners assume that simply moving data to the cloud guarantees data protection. Although it is undoubtedly a safe place to store business data, it does not make it impervious to cyber threats. There will always be an area in the cloud security system susceptible to attacks. Here are a few common data security pitfalls that businesses need to keep in mind.

 

Poor Access Management

For a business, the cloud-based deployments fall beyond the network perimeter and are attainable using the public internet. Although that accounts for broader accessibility of the infrastructure to workers and clients, it makes it simpler for cyber criminals to acquire unapproved access to cloud-based assets. Organizations with flawed security measures or shared credentials are a dream come true proposition for such hackers.

 Over-dependence on Security Tools

Another common misconception in the IT sector is that investing in state-of-the-art technical tools is the key to effective cyber security. These tools undoubtedly are crucial to cloud security and should be integrated into the cloud infrastructure. However, they are not the cornerstone of an all-encompassing and resilient cloud security strategy.

 

Mistaking Compliance for Security

Compliance is no assurance of security against threats. Businesses that consider security a courtesy to adhere to government-issued regulations like HIPAA and GDPR can often become too comfortable with their security posture and are often unaware of the lurking dangers. History has witnessed several large-scale enterprises falling prey to data breaches despite being fully compliant on paper.

 

Underestimating DDoS Attacks

DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service Attacks have been one of the biggest threats to Cloud Security solutions attacks in the past few years. The purpose of DDoS attacks is to make web servers insensitive to access requests and render a website inaccessible. That can adversely affect the business revenue stream and company reputation. Although DDoS attacks are not meant to steal data directly, attackers use them as an effective diversion. Businesses often skip investing in intrusion detection systems or configuring firewall rules to keep out malicious IP addresses, making it easier for attackers to find vulnerabilities.

 

Insecure APIs

Regardless of their growing prominence and applicability to fine-tune cloud computing processes, APIs can foster security threats if left unprotected. Cybercriminals can exploit vulnerabilities in APIs to access confidential documents saved in the cloud infrastructure. Experts have predicted APIs to be the most prominent vector in the coming year for cyber-attacks. There is also the tendency to overlook the importance of validating SSL certificates. Inadequate validation & lack of API monitoring means business owners are playing right into the hands of the hackers.

 

Safeguarding Cloud Infrastructure

Safeguarding confidential information should go hand in hand with other extensive security endeavors. Besides understanding where information crucial to your business is stored, you want to know how it is accessible. Here are a few ways to avoid the pitfalls.

 

Multi-Factor Authentication

The conventional security measures (username and password combination) can be exposed by the highly advanced ways of modern-day hackers. Stolen credentials of client accounts are one of the fundamental ways programmers access your online business information and applications.

The moment they learn an organization’s client accreditations, data stored in cloud-based applications becomes easily accessible. Therefore, securing all of your cloud clients with multi-factor authorization (MFA) has become a necessity in this digital era.

IT security teams must ensure that no unauthorized person gains access to their cloud applications. MFA is one of the least expensive yet best security controls to keep unwanted programmers at bay.

 

Encryption

Like any other form of information encryption, cloud encryption delivers the data garbled making it useless without the encryption keys. That applies regardless of whether the information is lost, taken, or imparted to an unapproved client.

Encryption is possibly the most significant component of any network protection strategy. Besides safeguarding the information from misuse, cloud encryption also addresses other security issues including preventing ransomware attacks.

 

Ransomware Protection

It is vital to adopt a multilayered security approach that deploys multiple security controls to restrict or contain the number of ransomware attacks and facilitate the smooth functioning of business operations. Multilayered security should incorporate systems like Zero-trust cloud network security controls that secure and confirm client access and system integrity, validate executables, diminish phishing risk, and filter spam and malware.

User Access Management

Not all employees of a particular company need access to every file or application present in the organization's cloud infrastructure. So, ensuring proper levels of authorization becomes crucial to a business. User Access Management confirms that every staffer can see or control only the applications or information essential for the task at hand, shielding valuable data from cyber criminals.

 

Deploying Firewalls

An effective approach is to deploy a Web Application Firewall (WAF) against cyber threats like SQL injection attacks that try to take advantage of a weakness in applications. Moreover, because of the exceptional nature of cyber threats such as DDoS, organizations should have the option to make customized mitigations against unauthorized or suspicious requests.

 

Vulnerability Management

Any cybersecurity strategy is incomplete without a robust vulnerability management program. Despite being so critical, many organizations do not give sufficient consideration to assuring their assets are patched effectively. Often it is because vulnerability management tools don’t come cheap and are usually hard to use. Common software vulnerabilities include poor data encryption, incompetent and unpatched software, and missing authentication. A regular internal and external vulnerability scan can help businesses identify the areas of concern and nip the dangers in the bud.

 

Cyber-Security Training

Programmers can get close enough to get data by taking login IDs and passwords via present-day techniques like email phishing, vishing (phishing through a phone call), and social media spying. For instance, the increasing usage of Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure and Microsoft Office 365 makes them soft targets for phishing assaults. Delivering constant social engineering training is the most effective way to keep workers aware of these tricks.

 

Conclusion

With the growing prominence of cloud adoption, organizations are migrating their workloads to cloud architectures. That can only increase the complexity of cybersecurity. In such a scenario, businesses cannot afford to compromise the security necessities to meet the baseline capabilities.

Security in the cloud requires a clean integration of patchwork solutions, including identity management for mobile workforces, threat intelligence, DNS filtering, next-gen firewalls, and advanced endpoint protection. These modern-day cloud security solutions require professional IT expertise that provides strategic planning, 24x7 technical support, and comprehensive cybersecurity protection to ensure top-of-the-line performance, connectivity, and security.

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