The ongoing shift to the cloud is one of the defining technology developments of the last decade. More and more, businesses are relying on cloud-based services and applications to operate, and they're storing their own data in the cloud, as well. While this move to the cloud has been transformative for many companies across industries, it’s also introduced more risk from a security perspective.
One of the key benefits of cloud computing is that applications and data can be accessed from almost anywhere. As such, without the right protections in place, cloud-based databases and tools can be compromised by bad actors looking to steal, ransom, or sell sensitive information.
To stay ahead of this evolving threat, companies need to be equipped with tools, processes, and policies that promote cloud security. Below, we’re sharing five cloud security best practices that your team can adopt to reduce the risk of your cloud computing efforts.
1. Make Security a Cloud Vendor Criteria
Whether you’re looking for a cloud storage provider to hold all your data or an analytics platform that will parse through some of your sensitive data to provide key insights, it’s important to make security a key component of the procurement process. Make sure to set up a list of security criteria based on your unique business requirements, industry regulations your company may be subject to, and core security best practices. As part of the procurement process, vendors should be able to show their proficiency in these areas — either through a security questionnaire or by sharing any certifications they might have — and showcase how they will keep your organization’s data secure.
2. Understand the Shared Responsibility Model
When data is stored on-premises, it’s up to the organization to handle all security concerns. However, when it comes to cloud service providers, there’s a shared responsibility between the provider and the organization to make sure that security best practices are being fully upheld.
What this shared responsibility looks like will depend on the type of service being provided (e.g. infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, and others). However, when properly defined and implemented, any shared responsibility model will outline clear roles for each party and cover all the bases. It’s important to have clarity and transparency here. Otherwise teams risk leaving certain areas of the cloud ecosystem unguarded and vulnerable to external threats.
3. Deploy Identity and Access Management (IAM)
One of the key ways to protect your data is by ensuring that only the right individuals have access to the right data, at the right time. A robust identity and access management platform can help by introducing continuous authentication and authorization capabilities across your cloud ecosystem. Companies can employ a variety of authentication mechanisms, including adaptive multi-factor authentication that smartly responds to different login attempts depending on the user’s location, time of request, device, and more.
Teams can also deploy role based access controls that grant access based on the user’s role and permissions within the organization. By implementing these elements, companies can reduce the threat of both internal and external threats.
4. Choose the Right Security Solutions
The most successful cloud security teams are equipped with an integrated security tech stack that monitors and logs potential security incidents, promotes rapid responses to threats, protects user endpoints, and continuously prevents data loss. This network of solutions should include encryption functionalities, cloud access security broker (CASB) solutions, access gateways, API security tools, and much more. While some cloud security solutions will have a suite of tools that could work for your environment, you may still need other supporting technologies to fill any gaps. As you choose your solutions, make sure they can easily and seamlessly talk to each other, rather than creating obstacles in your security tech stack.
5. Train Your Employees
Many data breaches and attacks happen as a result of social engineering efforts and other methods that take advantage of users’ lack of security understanding. As such, there’s a lot of value in educating employees so that they can be a strong first line of defense, rather than an ongoing weak spot in your attack vector. One key area of education should be password hygiene — especially if you’re still working on setting up multi-factor authentication. Passwords should be complex and uncommon, and they should never be written down somewhere others can see. Introducing a corporate password manager, and gamifying adoption, can be a great way to get employees on board with improving their password management.
When it comes to social engineering, there’s also an opportunity to train employees to spot, report, and manage a potential phishing attack. Have regular training on what to look out for, and send out test phishing attempts to check out how your teams are performing.
Navigating the Path to Cloud Security
For any organization that relies on the cloud, cloud security is going to be a constant and evolving companion. The best things that companies can do to stay ahead of the game is remain vigilant to any new threats, ensure their security tech stack is as efficient and effective as it can be, and keep their employees in the loop on what they can do to build a stronger culture of security within the organization.
Ali Cameron is a content marketer that specializes in the cybersecurity and B2B SaaS space. Besides writing for Tripwire's State of Security blog, she's also written for brands including Okta, Salesforce, and Microsoft (News - Alert). Taking an unusual route into the world of content, Ali started her career as a management consultant?at PwC where she sparked her interest in making complex concepts easy to understand. She blends this interest with a passion for storytelling, a combination that's well suited for writing in the cybersecurity space. She is also a regular writer for Bora.