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4 Essential Cloud Security Practices to Grow Your Business

Even though cloud computing technology appears inescapable today, every week seems to bring bad news: Major security breaches, vulnerabilities, or high-profile attacks.

You may be tempted to think that avoiding the cloud will keep your data safer, but with the majority of businesses in the United States using the cloud, not taking advantage of this technology can limit your growth.

In reality, the cloud is not more or less safe than relying exclusively on data centers. Like traditional networks, there are good security practices and habits to adopt to keep your data secure in the cloud and protected from breaches, enabling you to focus on business growth.

  1. Control Access to Your Data

Although cloud platform providers offer many benefits and conveniences, one thing they cannot do for you is guarantee data access control. Data access control is the data owner’s responsibility. 

Businesses without a robust data access policy and guidelines are more vulnerable to a data breach.

Examples of good data access control practices include:

  • Using strong passwords
  • Changing passwords at regular intervals
  • Using multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • Create a data-sharing policy (e.g., rules on sharing data, file permissions, or user roles)
  • Encourage the use of infrastructure as code (IaC) tools
  • Establish a list of authorized cloud services and disallow the use of any non-authorized services
  • Regularly audit data usage to discover whether some users are using non-authorized services, uncover anomalies, or detect potentially malicious behavior.
  1. Backups Are Still Relevant
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One of the most common misconceptions regarding cloud usage and cloud security is the belief that uploading your data onto cloud-based services means you don’t need to back your data up. Not only is this untrue, but secure backup solutions have never been as widespread, affordable, and accessible as they are now.

Successful companies have adopted approaches such as multi-cloud strategies. A multi-cloud strategy is a modern equivalent of maintaining multiple redundant data centers for data backup and security, but with cloud services instead of local servers. 

This approach significantly reduces upkeep costs (data centers are expensive to maintain) and improves security. If one provider experiences a widespread failure or significant downtime, your data is still safe and accessible on at least one other service.

  1. Encryption Has Proven Benefits

Reputable cloud service providers offer some degree of encryption. Most storage solutions possess what most describe as encryption in transit or end-to-end protection. This protects data with a layer of encryption during transfers to and from storage (upload and download).

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Some providers may also provide additional encryption at rest, keeping the data secure in the event of a breach. Theoretically, you can only access this type of data if you have the corresponding encryption key. However, because most service providers give the corresponding encryption keys, hackers can steal the encryption keys and render your data vulnerable.

To achieve maximum data security, businesses should:

  • Use local, standalone data encryption software and upload already encrypted files to your preferred cloud storage service. Ensure only authorized people have the corresponding keys or passwords.
  • Take advantage of zero-knowledge cloud storage services, which do not store encryption keys; only the user has access to the key for each file. If the key is lost, the cloud service provider has no way to recover the data.

The industry-standard encryption standard is AES-256, known for being virtually immune to brute-force attacks. 

If you’re looking for the highest possible encryption safety, avoid using software or service providers that don’t use this standard or an equivalent.

  1. Test Your Security Before a Hack Happens

The best way to be confident about the safety of your security measures is to test them directly. Cybersecurity firms offer security audits and assessments capable of reproducing the conditions of a targeted cyber-attack against your business.

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Cybersecurity assessment teams employ white-hat hackers, an industry colloquialism referring to cybersecurity analysts and specialists using the same tools and tactics as cybercriminals.

These ethical hackers can simulate a hack on your data but without the consequences of an actual attack, such as data theft or leaks. Their role is to find potential vulnerabilities, offer solutions to reinforce your data security, and help you focus on business growth.

The Takeaway

As businesses increasingly rely on cloud-based services to conduct their operations, hackers and cybercriminals have recognized the shift and are now targeting the world’s top cloud service providers. Cloud security and data control should be among the top priorities of any business looking to thrive in the cloud.

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