If you run any type of business or personal activity online, then you must be aware of cloud computing and its benefits. Cloud computing makes it possible for internet users to access data using any connected device from any location worldwide. It is one of the most convenient methods of sharing all types of content including files, documents, software, audios, and videos. A cloud infrastructure facilitates easy and convenient management of databases through software as a service (SaaS) enabling developers to roll out updates to applications without having to install the programs on each user’s device separately.
Another remarkable thing about cloud infrastructure is the fact that it has reduced the cost of installing and managing new devices that share the same network. Complete websites can now be hosted on cloud servers with greater efficiency than traditional shared servers. However, despite the wonderful things that this innovative technology brings, cloud technology has a higher exposure to data security breaches than traditional servers. Some of the common security risks that could affect your business on a cloud infrastructure include data loss, data breach, traffic hijacking, Denial of Service (DoS), insecure APIs, malware attack, and other vulnerabilities associated with shared technology.
So how do you avoid potential risks associated with cloud computing? You can do it by following cloud computing best practices to prevent data security risks. Here are a few practical tips and suggestions:
Educate Your Staff on the Right Defense Practices
Security risks in cloud or any other IT infrastructure often result from acts of commission or omission by inadequately informed employees. You can easily avoid risks in a cloud infrastructure by teaching your employees the right defense practices when faced with a potential data breach threat.
Data security is an activity that should involve all the employees in the organization, from the highest to the lowest level. They should be taught to take security measures as an obligation to the company’s welfare. Take time to set a protocol for threat response at all levels to combat any security risk the company might face in future.
Have a Secure Data Backup Plan
Cloud computing is a relatively recent technology that is yet to reach maturity. The potential for data loss in such an infrastructure is always high so make sure that you have a secure backup plan for your data just in case you suffer a permanent data loss in an insecure cloud infrastructure. It is also recommended to distribute your data across multiple cloud servers while ensuring that you have a daily data backup in offsite storage and disaster recovery repositories.
Control and Manage Access to Data
An insecure cloud infrastructure is one where you have little or no control over who can access your data. Where you locate your data is just as important as who has access to the information. You’ll need to establish and implement access controls to manage your cloud-based data security more effectively. User identities should be tied to back-end directories, including external identities. Take proactive measures to ensure that permitted users can access data easily while keeping out unauthorized access attempts.
The Importance of Encryption
Cloud encryption should be considered as a mandatory feature of a secure cloud infrastructure. Encryption allows your text and other data files to be changed into a different format using encryption algorithms before it is stored. Find out how your cloud storage provider encrypts and manages data before signing up for their service. Make sure the data is sufficiently protected before it is sent to the cloud storage by encrypting at the edge of the network. You should be completely certain that the data’s movement is well protected and keep the encryption keys which you use to encrypt and decipher the data. The keys will ensure that retrieval and use of your data stored in the cloud will only be possible with your involvement.
Treat Passwords with Utmost Seriousness
Most files stored in the cloud are usually encrypted with secure passwords. It is therefore important to choose the most secure password possible given that close to 90% passwords used today can be cracked in just a few seconds. Advanced software and hardware available today can crack most of the 8-character-one-number-and-alphanumeric-symbol passwords that were thought to be unbreakable in the past. Although it can be difficult to remember complex combinations of numbers, letters, and non-alphanumeric passwords, take time to create distinct and hard to crack passwords.
Run Penetration Tests to Identify Flaws in the Cloud Infrastructure
The best way to identify and avoid insecure cloud infrastructures is to think like a criminal. You can easily do this with the help of an IT security company with penetration test experts. A good example is Venkon. A penetration test professional can identify and address security flaws in your cloud-based data system to help you reduce and eliminate potential threats to your data.
Penetration tests are conducted like real attacks so make sure that your cloud provider is fully aware of the activity beforehand. Remember to create an inventory of what needs to be tested, for example, networks, servers, and applications. The penetration testing professional will provide you with results of the test as well as recommendations on what needs to be addressed. Keep in mind that internal threats can be as damaging as external ones so pay close attention to internal risks too as you conduct penetration tests.
The key to avoiding insecure cloud infrastructure is to make sure you do due diligence on the level of security a cloud provider has before you sign up for the service. It is equally important to understand what lies at stake and take the necessary measures to prevent risk before it becomes a reality. Consult a cloud penetration testing professional to help you identify weaknesses in the system and recommend the best measures to protect your IT infrastructure. Employees with access to data stored in the cloud are another delicate line of weakness in your entire security system. Make sure they are well educated in information retrieval, sharing, and other security processes to avoid data loss due to acts of commission or omission.