Is Cloud Storage Secure? How Can You Protect Your Data?

Is Cloud Storage Secure? How Can You Protect Your Data?

In the current digital landscape, cloud adoption has become ubiquitous in the business world, with organizations storing company and user data in virtualized cloud storage. By buying services from cloud service providers (CSPs), organizations enhance their computing power quickly and cheaply instead of buying and maintaining a traditional data centre. Cost savings, scalability, and speed are seen as the primary reasons for moving to the cloud, but the cloud environment's complexity impacts data security.

A recent study from Venafi has found that 81% of organizations experienced a cloud-related security incident in 2022, with almost half suffering at least four incidents. With news of such frequent incidents, it is safe to assume that threat attackers are now on board with companies adopting cloud technology. Companies need to follow certain practices to improve cloud data security to avoid putting company data at risk.

Data encryption

Encryption is the first line of defense to protect cloud data. The data traffic is filtered to the security cloud before the application system is reached. During transit, cloud storage providers use TLS (transfer layer security)—a widely used protocol to implement cryptography on the web—to protect files from eavesdropping. 

Data encryption turns data into cipher text, making it more difficult and time-consuming for hackers to understand the exact content of the data. Many cloud providers offer data encryption at rest, but client-side encryption fortifies the confidentiality of files. Client-side encryption takes place before sending data to the cloud storage. Files uploaded on the cloud never get decrypted because the cloud vendors do not possess the decryption keys. If hackers can access cloud storage, they can decrypt the files.

Two-factor authentication

It never hurts to double up on security. Two-factor authentication (2FA) strengthens access security by requiring two methods, also referred to as authentication factors, to verify user identity. Any user who signs into an account needs to provide information in addition to a password.

A popular authentication method is providing a PIN or inputting a code that a CSP emails or texts the user. Creating a two-step process every time a user logs in adds a layer of security. By integrating 2FA, attackers won’t be able to gain unauthorized access to the cloud storage. 

Use strong passwords

A strong password is essential for every account, but especially important for accounts that contain private information such as customer information. Over 80% of hacking-related data breaches occurred in 2022 due to weak or stolen login credentials. The easier the passwords are, the faster hackers can access company accounts. 

A strong password should have a minimum of 12 characters and include numbers, symbols, and capital and lowercase letters. Avoid using identifiable information such as name, birthday, company name, or names of pets or family members. Users should change their passwords regularly and avoid using the same password on multiple accounts. 

Set user permissions

Not every user in an organization needs to access everything. Set user permission based on the organizational hierarchy. User permissions specify what tasks users can perform and what features users can access. A Role-based Access Control (RBAC), or role-based security, mechanism helps manage who has access to cloud resources, what they can do with those resources, and what areas they can access.

Using RBAC, companies can sort users based on departments, work groups, or roles that grant access to a predefined set of resources. This access is temporary and removable after the user completes their tasks. 

Secure end-user devices

Mobile devices like smartphones and laptops affect an organization’s endpoint security. Any device connected to the system gives cybercriminals an opportunity to gain access to the company’s cloud storage. Downloading apps, using unsecured Wi-Fi, or leaving devices unlocked increases the risk of security incidents.  

Deploy a firewall to prevent unauthorized access to the network. A cloud-based mobile device management system (MDM) tool is valuable in securing corporate-owned smartphones and laptops that connect to the network. Another way to protect devices is to use a virtual private network (VPN) tool. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel through which data can pass safely when connected to public internet services.  

Use a strong anti-malware

Information is transferred over the open internet from servers in the enterprise to cloud services providers, making it vulnerable to attacks. Having an antivirus and anti-malware app on a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or any cloud-accessing device becomes essential. 

Wrapping Up

For organizations of all sizes, managing their cloud data security is critical, which means continuously assessing the risks of their cloud computing environment and proactively implementing the essential steps. If an organization plans onboarding a cloud solution, it must follow these tips:

  • Check different security policies provided by the cloud storage provider.

  • Browse the user agreement to find out how cloud storage service works.

  • Configure the privacy settings after signing up. Ensure the company doesn’t share private information via apps connected to the service provider.

  • Stay updated with security guidelines and best practices the Cloud Security Alliance recommends.

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