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What is cloud security?

The policies, techniques, and strategies enveloping all your data and applications in the cloud are collectively referred to as cloud security. With malicious actors constantly on the lookout for vulnerabilities in the cloud, it is imperative for businesses to have a sound cloud security strategy in place to reduce and mitigate the risk of cyberattacks. The cloud offers an extensive range of sophisticated security solutions as cloud services are commonly offered by Technology conglomerates with deep expertise in security that typically offer better coverage than on-premises computing. Managed Cloud Services providers are generally more adept at keeping infrastructure secure and tend to patch vulnerabilities much quicker than individual businesses.

Top 8 Cloud Computing Security Best Practices to Keep Your Cloud Environment Safe

Cloud security Strategy & Policy

The first step to framing and effective strategy and policy for cloud security comes from understanding your current state of infrastructure and an unbiased assessment of risk. You should look for effective cloud security solutions with comprehensive cloud monitoring. You could also try implementing some of the additional steps suggesting below:

Demarcate your most high value, sensitive or regulated data. Ideally, this data will cover your most sensitive customer and financial information, intellectual property, or data that can attract severe penalties or fines from regulatory authorities if it is disclosed. In order to automate this task to a certain degree you can make use of appropriate data classification engines for effective risk assessment. You also need to implement careful monitoring of who has access to this data, when and for what purpose. You can do this by assessing permissions on all relevant files and folders with complete visibility into usage context such as user roles, user location, and device type. After all, there’s no point storing your sensitive data on a secure cloud server if you can’t control who can access and share the same.

While shadow IT remains a challenge for organizations, converting it requires organizations to drill down into employee actions so much that many refrain from doing anything about it at all. Can you imagine your company investing time and resources behind tracking all employee actions whenever they sign up for some free cloud storage or Photo/ video editing applications on the web? However, a way of doing this in a more manageable manner would be to track actions through your web proxy, firewall, or SIEM logs to unearth a list of applications that are not explicitly approved by your IT team. You could then choose to allow or disallow these applications based on an assessment of their risk profile.

Audit configurations for identity and access management, network configuration, and encryption of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) such as AWS or Azure. These IaaS environments are often replete with sensitive system level settings that can be easily exploited, if misconfigured.

Scrupulously monitor user behavior and cloud access details for anomalies, careless user behavior and of course, malicious behavior. Implementing user behavior analytics (UBA) can help you detect these anomalies quickly to mitigate risks and data loss.

Implement endpoint security

With most organizations still in remote work mode, user endpoint security must take precedence in cloud security. This means continuously monitoring the effectiveness of your firewalls and other security tools such as anti-malware, intrusion detection, access control programs and more.

Managing access control

The best way to monitor and restrict access to sensitive data is by developing and implementing access control policies. This ensures that only legitimate users in your cloudy environment, with the right permissions, can access sensitive data. It pays to go for a zero trust policy approach in such cases. For special business cases, you could even assign specific rights for different users. Make sure that the information is only shared on a need to know basis.

Data encryption in the cloud

Sensitive data needs to be encrypted even when stored in the cloud. This ensures that the data remains protected both in transit and at rest. In general, cloud service providers often offer their own encryption services. You should go through the offered data protection policies in detail before you choose to migrate to a certain cloud service provider. Here is a guide on how to choose the right cloud service model for your business.

Define cloud usage policies for all employees

Developing and implementing effective user access control policies can help you moderate employee access to cloud data and make employees aware of the right way to access data. Access permissions can be confusing for employees, especially those who are new to the organization. In order to avoid confusion and unnecessary complexities, you can choose to create well-defined groups with assigned roles. This helps to cut down on the IT team’s workload by allowing them to add users to a pre-defined group rather than customize access for each new employee.

Password Control (Privileged and Non-Privileged Passwords)

Password security plays a crucial role in preventing unauthorized access to sensitive data. Develop and enforce a strict password policy including regular password updates, multi-factor authentication and more. This will also help you develop resilience against brute force attacks.

Perform routine penetration tests

Penetration tests are a critical tool in your arsenal to periodically assess the strength of your organization’s defensive posture. Penetration testing should ideally be conducted along with auditing to ensure that all your security policies are in fact being enforced regularly and if they are effective enough. Cloud migration can reduce your security headaches from the ones that you are familiar with from traditional, organizational data centers. There is no need for you to forfeit the immense operational benefits and competitive edge offered by the cloud if you closely adhere to cloud data security best practices. Managed Security Services offers highly effective penetration testing programs.

Always update and check the resilience of your cloud incident response, disaster recovery, and business continuity strategies

It is imperative for businesses today to have a sound business continuity and disaster recovery policy in place. However, organizations can often neglect to update these strategies along with the evolution of the organization and changes in the context of the enterprise. If your cloud incident response, disaster recovery, and business continuity strategies are not up to date with your operational realities as of the present moment – they simply won’t be as effective as you hope for them to be. IT Consulting suggests always update these strategies and policies and double-check on their effectiveness periodically to mitigate the impact of cloud outages and disruptions, cyberattacks, human negligence, and natural disasters.