Today, cloud security is directly related to the success and longevity of modern businesses. As companies of all sizes and industries grow increasingly reliant on cloud computing, it is vital that the data they store within the cloud is protected. Unfortunately, as cloud computing grows more prevalent, so do cloud misconfigurations and cyber attacks. For this reason, maintaining an impenetrable level of cloud security is critical.
The Basics of Cloud Security
There is no question that cybersecurity is an essential part of any modern business, particularly in the IT industry. Cloud security is a subset of this, focusing exclusively on security within a cloud computing environment. As a whole, cloud security encompasses the policies, hardware, software, best practices, procedures, and processes that are used to maintain the security of cloud data, infrastructure, applications, and systems within an organization.
Some organizations new to cloud computing fail to realize that it requires more than your traditional level of cyber security for a cloud environment to be secure. Traditionally, companies stored all of their data within an on-premise database. Such databases could be kept safe behind closed doors and remain protected from the use of basic firewalls and security protocols. Today, as hackers grow more sophisticated and much of our data is stored remotely in the cloud, additional measures are required.
Security measures for cloud security are put in place to protect data privacy, uphold compliance, provide governance, ensure data retention, and control data authentication and access. The specific steps to conduct such measures are unique to every company, but there are some best practices that most organizations use to protect their data in the cloud.
Obstacles to Flawless Security
While cloud computing is instrumental in helping companies efficiently store and share data, as with any technology, it has its flaws. One of the defining characteristics of cloud computing is its remote accessibility, but this is also one of its largest risks. Ensuring that only those authorized can access the data in your cloud infrastructure is critical, but many companies face obstacles in maintaining a secure cloud environment.
Even so, malware attempts are not the leading cause of security breaches in cloud computing but rather internal errors. Understanding common issues that can compromise the integrity of your cloud infrastructure is essential to avoid them. For this reason, we will discuss three significant and detrimental mistakes in maintaining cloud security.
One of the biggest cybersecurity threats associated with cloud computing is cloud misconfigurations. Often, people assume that all security breaches are due to hackers when in reality, many occur due to human error. Within a cloud environment, cloud misconfigurations can occur when a cloud infrastructure is set up, resulting in issues later down the road. For companies rushing to make a switch to the cloud, this is an unfortunately common problem - and a damaging one at that.
When a cloud misconfiguration occurs, it can take nearly a year to be identified. This means that for almost a year, a company’s data could be leaking. When a data leak happens, the public can gain access to a company’s private database. Consequently, company data is compromised, resulting in high costs and potential legal action.
Another common challenge in cloud security is managing user access. Within any organization, there are countless users needing access to their organization’s database. Problems can arise when companies fail to limit authorization and access to specific users instead of allowing any user to access any data.
In failing to limit access or place authorization protocols, it is essentially a free-for-all to access data. Furthermore, if anyone within the organization can access any part of the company’s cloud infrastructure, it is likely that users outside of the organization can too.
A significant aspect of cloud security is remaining in compliance with requirements. In a traditional on-premise database, companies are responsible for their entire IT infrastructure and network. Alternatively, in the cloud, security controls are not physically present, and the computing services are owned by third-party providers. For this reason, there are a few more compliance requirements to follow with cloud computing, and failure to do so could compromise your infrastructure significantly.
Best Practices for Enhanced Cloud Security
While there are some challenges to achieving flawless cloud security, with the right tools, it can be done. Utilizing these best practices, companies can operate within the cloud seamlessly while ensuring the security of their data.
Regular Data Backups
Perhaps the most standard security practice that a company can implement is performing regular data backups. No matter how optimally your cloud environment is operating, you run the risk of losing data. Power outages, network failures, cloud misconfigurations, and user errors can all result in lost data. If data is not saved properly, it may not be recoverable. For this reason, implementing backup management practices is essential.
With a data backup, companies can copy all data in their database to be stored elsewhere, ensuring that it is still available should their cloud database be compromised. Backups can be stored in external hard drives, off-site, in a data center, or in the cloud. Should data be lost, companies can use their backup to quickly restore the original data and get back to business after an incident.
To address concerns with unauthorized user access, many organizations adopt user access limitations, in which each user must be individually authorized to access specific data. A security administrator will set access limits to each user, ensuring that they can only access the data relevant to their position - including temporary access to users who are not long-term employees.
To take it one step further, many companies are even implementing zero-trust security protocols. With zero-trust security, companies take on the mindset that no user will receive automatic trust or authorization. Instead, everything and everyone must be verified before being permitted to access a company’s system. Such protocols may seem extreme but significantly reduce the access of unauthorized users.
Partner with Professionals
Finally, the most concrete way to ensure the security of your cloud environment is to partner with experts. Managed service providers, or MSPs, are experts in cloud services and security. By partnering with an MSP, companies can hand over all cloud-related tasks. Not only does this significantly reduce the amount of work for their internal IT department, but it will also likely improve the efficiency of their cloud infrastructure.
One of the most prevalent causes of a breach in cloud security is cloud misconfigurations. As cloud misconfigurations typically stem from the set-up of a company’s cloud infrastructure, a simple way to avoid this is by leaving the set-up to experienced professionals. MSPs are highly skilled in helping companies transition from on-premise databases to the cloud. By delegating such a task to an MSP, companies can significantly reduce the risk of cloud misconfigurations later on.
Furthermore, an MSP will be responsible for maintaining a company’s cloud environment, ensuring that it continues to operate seamlessly. These cloud-based services even include security monitoring, troubleshooting, help desk support, and any other possible cloud computing matter. By simply partnering with an MSP, companies can achieve enhanced cloud security and so much more without the additional labor of their own team members.