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9 Strategies and Tips for Improving Your Business’s Security in the Cloud

HomeBusiness9 Strategies and Tips for Improving Your Business's Security in the Cloud

Many organizations are well down the path of moving critical business applications to the cloud for convenience, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility. But just like any other digital service, security is a concern with cloud services – and there are unique risks that are new to many businesses.

With the shared responsibility model, cloud service providers ensure safety of the cloud, but you’re still responsible for the security of your data in the cloud and access to it. And as huge repositories of potentially sensitive and valuable data, the cloud is a high-value target for malicious hackers.

Here are some strategies and tips to improve your business’s security in the cloud.

1. Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Passwords can be a big risk in the cloud environment. Traditional username and password combinations aren’t enough to protect accounts from malicious attackers, leaving them susceptible to theft. Malicious actors often gain access to sensitive business data using weak, default, stolen, or otherwise compromised credentials.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is one of the most effective ways to prevent possible attacks and unauthorized access to business data and applications by requiring an additional form of known authentication, like a PIN or fingerprint. All cloud accounts should be safeguarded with MFA, ensuring that only authorized accounts and users can access the data and applications.

2. Enable Logging and Tracking

Logging and tracking the activity on your network is a well-tested way to identify potential threats and, if a breach occurs, discover the events that contributed to it. Every device in your network has a log of each activity that occurs. By monitoring these for abnormalities, you can see possible threats that occur from both within and without.

In most organizations, the sheer volume of activities are impossible for the human eye to detect. A monitoring system can scan these activities quickly and continuously, automatically differentiating between activities that occur often, such as new device logins, login failures, or file name changes, and suspicious activities.

3. Restrict Access to Data and Applications

Your employees don’t need unlimited access to every bit of data, file, or application in your network. Instead, restrict access with identity and access management (IAM) to ensure that employees only have the ability to view or edit applications and data necessary to perform their job duties.

Using access control not only strengthens cybersecurity by protecting your organization from malicious attackers who have compromised an employee’s credentials, but it limits how much damage they can do. In addition, employees won’t have the ability to accidentally edit data that they shouldn’t have authorization to access.

4. Implement Data Loss Prevention Measures

Having a data loss prevention (DLP) plan in place ensures that data is not lost, misused, or accessed by unauthorized users in the event of a breach. A stringent plan can detect potential breaches or data exfiltration transmissions and prevent them by monitoring, detecting, and blocking data while it’s in use, in transit, or in storage.

Not all data is created equal, so DLP prioritizes the most sensitive data – and the most likely to be vulnerable to an attack – such as personally identifiable information and intellectual property. Then, all data movement is tracked and monitored with controls in place to reduce specific risks.

5. Keep Software Up to Date

Software updates are important for not only the functionality of your systems and devices.  They also play a vital role in reducing security vulnerabilities. For a malicious hacker, any weaknesses provide an ingress point to gain access to a network and exfiltrate information.

Regular updates and security patches shore up these vulnerabilities, closing off access points to prevent attacks. In addition, new software updates include security updates that address any security weaknesses that can be exploited within your network.

6. Regularly Audit User Activity

Audits are important for assessing and enhancing accessibility while evaluating the security requirements and performance. Conducting an audit can identify any existing security vulnerabilities to ensure that applications and data are safe from unauthorized access and theft or external misuse.

It also monitors and analyzes end user activities to identify any that deviate from regular usage patterns, such as a login from an unknown IP or device. While this may not always indicate anything malicious, abnormal activities could pinpoint a possible breach, allowing you to take swift action to mitigate its impact.

7. Educate Employees on Security Best Practices

It’s important for employees to understand how to identify attacks and how to report suspicious activity to the IT team. Employees should also be trained on password strategy, including how to create strong passwords, using different passwords for different accounts, and changing passwords regularly.

8. Encrypt Your Data

Encrypting data is a simple but effective way to defend against cyber and brute force attacks, including malware and ransomware. By securing transmitted data, you can protect sensitive data in the public cloud, private cloud, or in hybrid- and multi-cloud environments.

Your cloud service provider may be responsible for the security of the cloud service, but the security of your data within it and how it is securely accessed falls on you. You have to protect it without compromising your employees’ ability to perform their job duties. In addition to encrypting data at the file, database, and application levels, it’s important to have robust encryption key management, access control, and audit logging.

9. Utilize a Cloud Security Risk Assessment Tool

A cloud security assessment is an evaluation that tests and analyzes your cloud infrastructure to ensure your organization is safeguarded from a range of different security risks and threats. It analyzes the network for possible exploitation, identifies potential ingress points in your infrastructure, and determines approaches to prevent future attacks.

Leveraging a cloud security assessment tool strengthens your security posture by continuously monitoring and assessing cloud assets for threats and suspicious activities. All security monitoring is automated, with full visibility, to correct issues quickly and mitigate their effects.

Manage Your Cloud Security

Your cloud service provider’s security only goes so far – the bulk of securing your data falls on you. These tips and strategies can help you fortify your cloud security and adopt a robust cybersecurity posture.

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Joseph Carson
Joseph Carson
Joseph Carson is a cybersecurity professional with more than 25 years’ experience in enterprise security and infrastructure. Currently, Carson is the Chief Security Scientist & Advisory CISO at Delinea. He is an active member of the cybersecurity community and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Carson is also a cybersecurity adviser to several governments, critical infrastructure organizations, and financial and transportation industries, and speaks at conferences globally.


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