9 Cloud Security Fundamentals

How can you take advantage of the benefits of the cloud? The first step is to ensure that you embed cloud security fundamentals into your policies and practices.

Maximizing Data Security Now Yours Is in the Cloud

If you have selected to take advantage of the benefits of cloud computing for your company, or already are worried about the security implications, this article discusses the most crucial issue you face with the security of your data.

Specifically, we discuss the fundamentals of cloud security that are mission-critical to ensure your data is protected against the impact of data loss on business.

Is the cloud secure?

Despite the increase in attacks on cloud computing services, the cloud ecosystem is secure. Service providers incorporate many state-of-the-art security methods, including encryption, access controls, real-time monitoring, and data breach protection tools to protect against data protection risks.

The real issue is not if the cloud is secure, but how you ensure that you use it securely.

Fundamentals of cloud security to maximize data security 

To maximize data security, it is important to have a strong understanding of the fundamentals of cloud security. 

It’s not enough to hand over your data to your service provider and sit back and relax. Your business needs you to be active in data security, and so do the regulators. Your customers won’t forgive you for a breach of their confidential information, no matter how much you protest that you thought it was the responsibility of your cloud provider. 

Our advice is to ensure that you follow these cloud information security fundamentals.

#1: Understand the model of shared responsibility

Not all cloud service providers are equal, and differing levels of service offer differing levels of security. You must ensure that you understand what security measures the cloud service provider is responsible for, and which security responsibilities are your responsibility.

Bottom line? Always ask (and get documented) who is responsible for each piece of the data security puzzle.

#2: Know how your data is being managed

It’s crucial to know how the service provider is managing your data. A critical protective measure against data loss and cybercriminals is to ensure that data is encrypted. You must know:

  • Will the provider encrypt the data that it stores, or is it your responsibility to encrypt it before uploading it to the cloud?

  • Does the cloud service manage the encryption keys, or do you?

#3: Control of user access

One of the major benefits of using the cloud is its open nature and easy accessibility, especially for global companies or those whose employees are working from home. However, this accessibility must be controlled.

You should have strong access control policies, and use the service provider’s access control tools to limit access according to your pre-defined user privileges.

#4: Utilize secure credentials

Access keys may become exposed on websites and platforms that are exposed to the public. Therefore, it is crucial to update access codes regularly, and base restrictions on IAM roles.

In addition, disable disused user accounts and never use root accounts except for admin and management tasks.

#5: Implement multi-factor authentication

Using multi-factor authentication makes it more challenging for cybercriminals to hack into user accounts. 

#6: Be aware of country-specific laws and regulations

If you conduct business across borders, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are in compliance with the laws and regulations of the countries in which you transact business.

While most cloud service providers update for evolving regulations, the onus is on you to ensure that your business is in compliance.

#7: Configure and monitor your cloud platforms for improved visibility

Most cloud service providers provide monitoring and management tools. These will allow you to track and analyze the use and conduct compliance audits. However, you should ensure that you have configured your cloud platform to enable you to conduct effective monitoring and logging of all security events.

When configuring your cloud platform for improved management visibility, you should ensure that you can:

  • Determine where sensitive data is stored

  • Prioritize integrations that increase visibility

#8: Configure to maximize the security of the cloud platform’s architecture

You should analyze the architecture of the cloud platform to understand the security implications and effectiveness of IAM access, cloud infrastructure, server infrastructure, and application security.

It’s crucial to review for vulnerabilities, access logging, auditing, design, and alerts for all unusual activities.

#9: Monitor the cloud through integration and automation

You’ll find that you receive massive amounts of data in logs created by your cloud service provider. The only way to effectively deal with these is to integrate and automate monitoring and management tasks associated with them.

To do this, you must have tools that collect the data and aggregate it close to the source. You should also set actionable events within your alert rules, and use tools to implement required actions. You should also be certain about how you will collect, parse, and monitor all application and infrastructure logs for unauthorized access and suspicious activity.

The bottom line

Cloud computing is the most popular form of data storage today. While this type of storage offers many benefits, it also exposes your data to several risks. To protect yourself and your business, you need to understand the fundamentals of cloud security and what you can do to maximize data security now that it’s in the cloud. Employing the cloud as part of your business strategy does not absolve you of security responsibilities.

This overview of cloud security fundamentals is the starting point to building out an effective and successful operation that takes advantage of all the benefits of using the cloud. It’s crucial to get it right, to protect your employees, your customers, other stakeholders, and your business.

Are you benefitting from the cloud and maximizing the security of the data you store in it?

We specialize in helping small and medium businesses (locally and nationally), as well as government contractors, implement effective data security. Contact us today to ensure your company is fully protected.

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