11 Tips for Improving Cloud Security for Businesses

Posted on July 14, 2020 Cloud

Smart businesses move their digital resources to the cloud to streamline operations. After all, cloud storage and backup offer a convenient, cost-effective, and flexible way to store and retrieve company data. That’s why 94 percent of businesses use at least one cloud service.

However, just like any other storage system, data security is still a major concern with cloud services. Frankly, cloud storage presents a host of data security risks that many businesses never had to deal with before. 

Fortunately, cloud security isn’t something that should give you sleepless nights. Cloud service providers go all out to ensure the safety and integrity of their clients’ data. However, that doesn’t mean that you should throw caution to the wind.

A lot of companies have had to grapple with cloud security issues, including breaches and data phishing. If you don’t want to be among the bunch, then read on and learn about a few tips on how you can improve security on the cloud for your business.

1. Protect User Identity and Metadata

Most of the security breaches with cloud platforms occur because of human negligence and not because of loopholes in the cloud service. It’s up to you to protect the identity of your staff, especially corporate members, with access to sensitive company data.

Most business owners don’t know that the business’s metadata could also pose a security risk. Evidence of the data is as much of a security risk as the data itself. Unfortunately, most businesses and cloud service providers overlook metadata security.

The problem with most CSPs is that they store all metadata in a central location. That means that hackers can get access to all metadata with a single breach. One excellent strategy is distributing metadata in separate storage locations.

2. Manage Your User Access

Ensure you have proper levels of authorization to safeguard highly sensitive company information. Not every employee needs access to certain documents and applications.  As such, you need to establish access rights to prevent unauthorized access or manipulation of vital company data.

Lower-level employees are more susceptible to phishing, because there’s not much to be cautious about, and they’re way more than top-tier employees.  Not having authorization levels for different employees spells doom for your cloud security. It means that a simple phishing of a low-level employee gives the hacker all the keys to the kingdom.

3. Have Your Off-Boarding Process on Lock

What happens when one of your employees cut ties with the company? Do you just wave them goodbye, and it’s all done? If so, then you’re putting your business’s security at risk.

When employees leave your company, make sure they can no longer access your storage system or any intellectual properties for that matter. You need to revoke any access right to data systems, including the cloud platforms. Your former employees could easily sell your data to the wrong people, and they won’t even be accountable for it.

So make sure you have a comprehensive off-boarding process that prevents former employees from accessing the cloud. If you don’t know how to do so, you can hire professionals handle this task. 

4. Train Your Employees on Anti-Phishing

Your employees could be the greatest threat to your cloud security, but not directly. Phishing method is one of the easiest ways hackers can gain access to your data, and you won’t even know what hit you. That’s why it’s so important to provide your employees with comprehensive anti-phishing training regularly.

That way, your employees can easily spot phishing scams and steer clear from them. 

Anti-phishing training should be continuous for the greatest effect. Proper training is not a one-time thing, but a series of consistent and continued training sessions. Unscrupulous hackers come up with new phishing scams by the day. 

5. Be Cautious With Your SaaS Providers

SaaS providers add an extra layer of security to the data stored on the cloud. However, depending on the SaaS provider, they may actually compromise rather than fortify your cloud security. 

Stay away from SaaS providers that generate your encryption keys in un-encrypted servers. That’s because it’s easier for hackers to gain access to un-encrypted servers than encrypted ones. So do your homework before settling on a SaaS provider

 Also, don’t let your SaaS providers manage your keys, because it increases your security risk. You lose control over your data security when you let the providers manage your encryption keys. 

6. Implement Strict External Collaborator Access policies

One great thing with the cloud is that employees and other parties may collaborate on shared tasks or responsibilities. However, with this collaboration comes huge security risks, especially when working with external parties.

You need to have strict policies on what data employees should upload for collaboration with external entities. Also, the policies should clearly outline who employees can share this data to and who are on the exclusion list.

Make sure you audit all access to have a log of who accesses what data and at what time. Flag down any anomalistic event and get to the bottom of it as soon as you can. To restrict anomalous access, you should consider embracing data loss prevention.

7. Improve Password Security

Something as simple as strengthening your passwords could do wonders for your cloud security. When it comes to password security, make sure you get all your employees and even your clients on board. Improving your password security should be a piece of cake.

One way to strengthen password security is by introducing multi-factor authentication. For instance, employees could first enter their password, then the last three digits of their employee card to gain access. They are tons of multi-factor authentication ideas; just find one that suits you best.

You can also consider using passphrases instead of passwords. Unlike passwords, passphrases are a string of words in a particular order that you enter to gain access.  It’s way harder to guess or crack passphrases with password generating tools. So for better password security, passphrases are the way to go.

8. Manage Endpoints and Offices

Your offices and endpoints shouldn’t be a loophole to your cloud security. Ensure these endpoints are both physically and digitally secure. Someone could stroll in with a flash drive and completely compromise your data security.

 Also, encrypt all data in and out of the cloud for the greatest level of data protection. 

9. Make Sure the Data You Delete Actually Deletes

There’s a real problem with cloud services over how deleted data lingers for longer than it should. Unlike local storage systems, you can’t actually check to confirm whether what you deleted is gone with cloud storage. 

So the question remains, how do you know whether what you delete actually deletes? Well, in most cases, you don’t, you just have to put your faith in your CSP.  As such, try to avoid sketchy cloud service providers with poor cloud security track records.

You should be extra cautious about cloud service providers with ridiculously low rates. You may have to pay a huge price for saving a few hundred bucks. Always go with trusted cloud service providers, at least they actually delete your data when you delete it.

10. Cloud Migration Diligence

Your migration to the cloud should be a slow, careful, and diligent process. This is especially so if you’re planning to move critical and sensitive data to the cloud. Your data is way more susceptible to breaches when moving it to the cloud.

Your cloud service provider is only responsible for the security of your data to some extent. However, the rest falls on you to ensure the security of this data, especially during cloud migration. Most business owners are guilty of overlooking data security when moving to the cloud.

Avoid the “upload it, and we’ll get to it later” approach because it might cost you dearly. The best approach understands how cloud services and cloud migration works. Later you can plug any loopholes that might compromise data security during migration.

11. Backup Your Cloud Storage

Improving your cloud security doesn’t make it completely free of any security risks. In case of any breaches, you might want to wipe out all the data to mitigate the data loss. In some cases, employees might accidentally delete crucial company data.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to back up the data you store in the cloud. You never know when you might lose all your company data.

Cloud Security Rests on You 

Your cloud service provider can only do so much for your cloud security. The rest falls on you, and you’ll have no one to blame should anything go wrong. Fortunately, with these few tips, you can fortify your data security for files and apps you store in the cloud.

Of course, you can always get help with your cloud migration and security. However, even so, you need the right people to ensure everything moves smoothly. For professional and expedient cloud migration and security services, talk to us today.

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