As businesses collect and store more sensitive data in cloud environments, cloud data protection will continue to be an essential part of modern enterprises. Companies are constantly moving away from building and managing their data centers in favor of cloud storage because of the cost savings and the convenient access it can provide their teams.
However, while cloud storage is a HiTech innovation that has been very beneficial to organizations, it also presents security risks. Poor data security can lead to breaches that could damage your brand reputation and result in fines and other financial losses.
Cloud services are here to stay, and it is likely that your organization even uses multiple cloud environments. This post will explain what cloud data protection is, why it is important, and what steps you can take to keep your data secure.
What Is Cloud Data Protection?
The simplest definition of cloud data protection is a set of security practices that aim to protect data in a cloud environment. These security measures apply to all cloud data, including data in motion, data at rest, data managed internally, and data managed by a cloud service provider. Data protection measures should be applied equally to all cloud data whether your organization uses a private cloud, public cloud, hybrid infrastructure, or multi-cloud approach to your cloud services.
Why Is Cloud Data Protection Important?
Companies large and small are collecting and storing more data than ever before. This data ranges from sensitive corporate trade secrets and personal medical records to mundane internal memos and reports. In addition to collecting more data, businesses store data in more places than ever before. Of course, data protection has always been important, but these security measures have taken on added urgency as more organizations realize the difficulty of securing data across multiple cloud environments.
Plus, cloud services are used for more than just data storage. In addition to storing sensitive personal and enterprise information, cloud computing is also used to run and store web services and applications. So if your cloud is compromised, sensitive data might not be the only thing at risk.
Businesses that rely on cloud environments face several data protection challenges, including:
- Security inconsistencies
The biggest cloud security challenge facing businesses is the basic visibility of data and applications. Without a solid cloud data protection plan in place, it can be nearly impossible to keep track of all the data your business has stored on the cloud. Many organizations don’t know where all of their data is stored. Without a basic, clear understanding of where all of your data is, your business cannot begin to protect it.
Most cloud providers offer security for their clients, but there are two main issues that businesses must contend with:
- Security measures are likely inconsistent between cloud environments
- There are shared security responsibilities, and these will also differ between providers
One thing that a cloud service provider may not adequately communicate is your shared security responsibilities. Your business won’t be able to rely solely on its cloud providers to ensure security. Not only will your shared responsibilities differ from provider to provider, but the security measures and capabilities they have will also vary.
The only way to ensure data security across multiple cloud environments is to have a unified cloud data protection policy and plan.
This issue applies to data and applications hosted on third-party cloud infrastructures, which is the route many organizations take because it is cost-effective. However, the issue with third-party cloud infrastructure is that your organization will have less visibility into who is accessing your data, what devices are being used, and how this data is being used and/or possibly shared.
Cloud data protection is important to have in place because it will help your organization maintain complete visibility over all access to your data and applications. It is nearly impossible to secure your data if you don’t know who is accessing it or how.
Cloud Data Protection Best Practices to Follow
The security of your cloud data is primarily in your hands. Your data will only be as secure as your cloud data protection policies allow. With all of the cyber threats out there, it is important to take strong security measures with your cloud data. Some of the best cloud data protection practices include:
- Encrypt data on the file-level
- Restrict access
- Secure endpoints
- Vet built-in security
- Understand your security responsibilities
Encrypt Data on the File-Level
Cloud providers will typically include in-transit and at-rest encryption features for your data. However, to truly secure your cloud data, your business should add an additional layer of encryption at the file level. The simplest way to add an additional layer of encryption to your data is to encrypt it before you transfer it to the cloud.
Your organization might also want to consider “sharding” your cloud data. Sharding breaks your data into small pieces and stores the different parts in separate locations. So if an attacker gains access to your cloud data, they only see a piece of the whole.
The simplest way to promote data security is to implement strict access permissions. Users and applications should only have access to the data that they absolutely need to complete their tasks. Restricting access to data limits the potential access points attackers can use to gain access to your cloud data.
In addition, your organization should implement a strong credential policy. For example, all passwords should be difficult, users should not be reusing them, and all inactive credentials should be purged from your system. These simple steps will greatly increase the strength of your cloud data protection policies.
Most businesses operate under a BYOD (bring your own device) policy. While this helps the bottom line, it creates a major security risk. User devices are one of the most vulnerable parts of your system. Plus, your security team will have less access and control over device security measures, such as updates.
If your organization is going to rely on employee devices, you need to implement an endpoint protection plan to restrict traffic on the perimeter of your network.
Vet Built-In Security
Most cloud providers offer built-in security features. When comparing cloud providers, make sure you fully vet all of the security features they offer. In addition, you need to make sure that the cloud environment you choose has security features that meet all industry standards and compliance requirements. Failure to meet compliance requirements can lead to fines and other penalties.
Understand Your Security Responsibilities
When using cloud storage, you need to know what security responsibilities your organization has. After all, it is your data, your business, and ultimately, your reputation that could be ruined due to a data breach. So, before choosing a cloud provider, make sure that your security responsibilities are clearly defined.
Cloud storage has changed the way many organizations collect data and do business. Cloud computing has made it possible to collect massive amounts of information and analyze it using Machine Learning algorithms.
As great as cloud computing is, organizations need to focus on security. Inconsistent cloud data protection can lead to costly data breaches. If your organization wants to know more about cloud data protection, reach out to an experienced app development partner for guidance.