Businesses are moving to the cloud — 96 percent of IT professionals asked said their company used some form of public, private or multi-cloud strategy to enhance agility, improve control and reduce hardware spend.
But this shift isn’t entirely stress-free, with 93 percent of organizations saying they’re worried about cloud security. It makes sense. As companies shift mission-critical tools and data into the cloud, what happens if providers drop the ball or leave the virtual door open for hackers? New legislation and compliance regulations make it clear that companies — not cloud providers — are responsible for the due diligence required to effectively secure data at rest, in transit and in use.
Here’s what your business needs to know about cloud security.
Breaches Aren’t the Biggest Threat
Security breaches happen — to technology providers, local IT teams and large enterprises. Despite news-making headlines about cloud breaches, these data defense difficulties remain uncommon in the cloud.
The biggest worry? Workers are unable to access cloud services due to unplanned downtime. In many cases, this downtime isn’t a DDoS or ransomware attack run amok — but tied to configuration or load-balancing issues that cause sudden loss of service. While inconvenient, both planned and unplanned outages aren’t exposing key data to prying eyes; instead, they’re a good reminder to keep at least some services off-site so staff productivity doesn’t suffer.
Benefits Outweigh Potential Drawbacks
In fact, security in the cloud has improved significantly over the past few years as market competition heats up and companies “race to zero” to see who can offer the best options at the lowest price. Cloud providers know full well that security is a top priority for IT admins and C-suites, and since these vendors focus exclusively on tech delivery, they’re able to invest heavily in effective infosec measures and perform regular tests to ensure defenses meet client expectations.
The cloud itself also offers marked advantages over local hardware, making it easier to deploy disaster recovery (DR) solutions and allowing staff to seamlessly collaborate on critical documents. With services and security now brand-defining features for cloud providers, keeping data safe is the quickest way for vendors to stay ahead of the competition.
How to Take Control
While cloud controls continue to evolve, concerns around security still hold the top spot for organizations. Why worry? Because many issues aren’t tied to provider protection (or lack thereof) but internal adoption processes. From uncontrolled cloud sprawl to shadow IT, misconfigured services and insider threats, companies are often unsure about the best way to implement cloud services without increasing total risk.
Instead of avoiding adoption — or relying on providers to account for internal processes — companies can take control of their infosec risk with critical cloud best practices, including:
Consider what you upload — Not everything belongs in the cloud. Financial data and personal information are often better kept on local stacks. If this data is breached, even due to provider error, your company is on the hook.
Do your research — The rapid expansion of cloud services has created a massive marketplace, but not all providers offer the same level of security. Ask questions before you sign any contracts: Where (and how) is data stored? What happens to it if you change providers? What specific security features exist?
Lock the gate when you leave — Attackers often use email compromise to gain cloud access through local devices rather than breaching providers directly. To protect your data, always use a virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to the cloud and deploy strong security tools such as two-factor authentication to limit the risk of compromise.
Spend on IAM — Identity and access management (IAM) is essential in the cloud. Spending on tools and technology that ensure the right people have the right access to the right data can significantly reduce the chance of accidental data loss or destruction.
Back it up — As noted above, cloud failure happens. Secure critical data by ensuring it’s always backed up on local stacks or off-site physical media, so even if providers experience a massive, unplanned outage, critical business data remains accessible.
Pay attention to everything — Monitoring matters. Many cloud providers now offer activity monitoring to help identify suspicious behavior and mitigate threats. This is especially critical to limit the risk of insider attacks — from staff accidentally sharing secure data to maliciously downloading key files, active monitoring provides critical insight.
Risk Is Your Business
Cloud security remains a top concern for companies. But the biggest risk to organizations isn’t the proliferation of cloud services and providers, it’s how data is accessed, used, stored and monitored. Take control of your deployment with best practices that address key threats, enhance cloud control and empower organizational outcomes.
Featured image via online.stanford.edu