Global interest in cloud computing has skyrocketed in recent years. 2018 will likely see a rapid rise in cloud growth, including a prediction from Forrester that “cloud computing will accelerate enterprise transformation everywhere as it becomes a must-have business technology.”
This intense focus on cloud comes with its benefits, including decreased spending, better cloud app integration, less burden on IT teams and their processes, improved flexibility and scaling, and more room for software creativity.
On the other hand, storing data in the cloud often introduces security risks. These new liabilities cause information leaks, breaches, and worrisome vulnerabilities, problems that are a nightmare to address for any organization.
Good news, though. These situations are easy to avoid if you follow proper security practices.
Do your 2018 plans include moving to, or maintaining, an environment in the cloud? Use these five security tips to boost your defenses and ensure healthy cloud practices in the new year.
1. Map out your cloud processes
While moving to the cloud can be a positive long-term decision, it can temporarily complicate your security policies and practices—often in unexpected ways. To prepare yourself for this possibility, map out your cloud processes and track them as you make changes. Be consistent. Where are you storing your information? Which security rules apply to your folders, databases, and buckets? Who is allowed access to your organization’s cloud data and what rules should they follow?
Once the document is complete, share its location with others. This will help prevent confusion between the coworkers, stakeholders, thirty-party vendors, and trading partners who access your cloud environment.
2. Review your users’ permissions
While cloud computing platforms generally have security practices in place for their clients, we highly recommend you practice good security hygiene in your environment. Start with an audit of your cloud privileges and user accounts. Have some employees, trading partners, or third-party vendors recently left the relationship? Cleaning out their accounts and removing their access to the cloud will keep them from modifying sensitive data at a later date.
This process also applies to active accounts. Users should only be given the level of permissions they need to do their job. If your cloud users have more access than they need, consider revoking it to avoid unnecessary vulnerabilities and risks.
3. Encrypt your data (always)
We may be stating the obvious here, but #3 is worth the reminder.
When moving data between your network and the cloud, always, always, secure your transfers with standard encryption methods (e.g. SFTP, FTPS, AS2, SCP). Continue this practice even when the data is at rest in an AWS S3 bucket or cloud server. The level of encryption (single files, folders, entire databases) is up to you, but we recommend deferring to the highest level of security you can provide your data.
Certain software can help you encrypt your files no matter where they reside. Secure cloud file transfer solutions use modern security practices and secure communication to help you stay up-to-date with the latest standards and regulations. If you need to boost your file exchanges and manage the integrity of your cloud data, secure cloud file transfer may fit well in your organization.
4. Invest in a cloud disaster recovery plan
One of the best ways to protect your data is to think ahead and plan for the worst. To do this, consider investing in a cloud disaster recovery plan. Sit down with your team and create one (this TechTarget article gives some advice on how to build a cloud DR plan), then schedule automated backups that frequently save copies of your environment to different, non-local geographical locations.
Each cloud computing platform should offer its own tool to help you ensure backups are done frequently. Look for a solution that saves your data to two or more data centers—for example, one in the U.S. and one in Asia—and rest easy knowing your data is protected against the possibility of natural disasters.
5. Monitor your audit logs
Data protection is a huge focus for all cloud computing platforms, especially after 2017’s shocking rise in data breaches. Good security practices will continue to evolve for businesses like AWS and Microsoft Azure, but cybersecurity is a two-way street. We recommend keeping audit logs and frequently reviewing your activity reports, which will help you spot strange or unauthorized activity.
A secure cloud file transfer solution (also known as managed file transfer) can help you track detailed user information and generate reports of file transfer and administrator activity. Deploying file transfer software in the cloud is especially useful during audits and in the quest for compliance with regulations like PCI DSS and the GDPR.
Want to learn how a solution like secure file transfer can protect what you put in the cloud? Get the guide here: Using Managed File Transfer to Secure Your Cloud Data
Make 2018 your year to achieve proper security hygiene in the cloud. Just add these tips to your routine, and you’ll be well on your way to a safer cloud environment.