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How To Secure Data In The Cloud

Cloud-based storage offers convenience and cost-effective solutions that are best-suited to modern business practices – particularly now Work From Home protocols are likely to become the ‘new normal’. 

But whilst storing data in the cloud can offer more agility, efficiency, flexibility, and productivity, the fundamental question of data security remains. How secure is cloud storage?

Moving your data from a secure and private network to a cloud owned by a third-party can naturally cause IT professionals anxiety. After all, you are storing some highly important business data in the cloud. Not to mention the personal details of your customers.

Data breaches can significantly harm your business. With a growing number of ways hackers can penetrate your business network and an increase in cyberattacks on WFH employees, knowing how to effectively store data in the cloud. 

Encrypt Data At File Level

Most cloud service vendors provide attack resistance by encrypting data utilising the TLS protocol to protect your files from hackers. The TLS protocol uses a cypher, authentication and key exchange to secure a connection.

Even with the secure encryption of your cloud storage provider, cybersecurity best practices recommend doubling down with a comprehensive encryption tool on the client-side. 

There are a number of secure encryption algorithms you can use that provide varying degrees of security. The most secure on the current market AES algorithm boasts a 256-bit key length.

Train staff in Cyber Security

Cybersecurity companies claim the biggest threat to a firm’s cybersecurity is the end-user. Unsuspecting employees are susceptible to various forms of cybercriminal activity including phishing attacks, low-quality passwords and social engineering. 

Providing your staff with cybersecurity training reduces the risk of data breaches and keeps your data out of the hands of hackers. 

WFH employees increase the risk of a data breach. The first month of the global lockdown in February and March 2020 saw a 569% growth in cyber attacks according to Interpol

Employees using unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots can also be compromised by malicious actors using the same network. 

You may want to be seen as draconian by forbidding your employees to work in cafes, but you can alert them to the dangers of entering passwords whilst they are using third-party networks. 

Secure Employee Devices 

Allowing employees to use the same device for work and personal use has the potential to be a significant security risk. Whilst Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies offer plenty of benefits, they can cause a headache for IT professionals. 

Securing employees devices with advanced endpoint security gives you more control over mobile devices. Endpoint protection systems are the first line of protection because they can immediately detect and block cyberattacks in progress. 

In addition, employee devices can be further secured by deploying firewall solutions to protect your network perimeter, providing SSL certificates for device authentication, limiting applications and assets on employee-owned smartphones and tablets all add an extra layer of protection to your BYOD policy. 

Use Strong Password and Two-Step Verification

Passwords are your first line of protection against data breaches. To strengthen your fortifications, it is imperative to use passwords that can withstand a hack attack. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommend using a unique passphrase that includes both upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers.

In addition to using strong and unique passwords, deploy protocols that forces employees to update their password regularly. Don’t allow them to use the same password more than once – particularly for two different accounts. 

Two-way authentication is becoming standard practice for internet users. Banks, tech companies and other services are using two-way authentication to help protect their customers. It makes sense to use it for your employees as well. 

Install Anti-Virus and Anti-Spy Software 

When devising a strategy to secure data in the cloud, consider that data protection is a shared responsibility between your company and your cloud data storage provider. 

Cloud service providers boast advanced cybersecurity software and use their expertise to avoid data breaches. Gartner claims that 99% of data security failures will rest with the end-user. 

Misconfigured databases and unprotected computers your staff is logging onto are among the leading culprits. Without effective protection for each device, you leave your entire network vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

Advanced security tools identify the gaps between the security measures implemented by your cloud vendor and alert you of potential security issues you would be wise to address at your end.

Anti-virus and anti-spyware applications enable you to pinpoint potential penetration points, suspicious activity and gaps in the network that could result in a compliance failure.

Appoint A Data Protection Officer

To align with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed into law in 2018, companies that acquire and store sensitive information belonging to third parties are required to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO). 

DPOs can be an existing employee or external service provider. However, they are required to be an expert in data protection, adequately resourced and report to C-level executives. 

The role of a DPO is to monitor internal compliance, ensure your data protection obligations are met, review and document all confidential information you store and act as a point of content between the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the event of a data breach.

Choose A Cloud Service Provider You Trust

Partnering with a cloud storage vendor plays a central role in achieving your data security goals. 

Before agreeing to work with a cloud provider determine what security measures they employ, the mechanisms they use to preserve applications and evaluate which security features they include in their package against additional paid services. 

In addition, you should be looking for cloud service providers that offer a customised approach rather than a one-size-fits-all security solutions. You want to be assured your cloud partners are ready to work with you to deliver a service you need – and the world’s leading cloud companies don’t!

A cloud storage vendor must be able to convince you that the security technologies and policies they have in place meet the data security objectives stated in your company’s security policy. This is how you secure data in the cloud.

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