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How to Avoid Data Breaches in the Cloud

The world that we live in today becomes more technologically advanced by the day. These advancements have done wonders for society as a whole and have offered much improvement in productivity in the workplace. However, as more applications are being run and more data stored online, in addition to rapid cloud expansion, there is one obvious parallel that is seemingly unavoidable – increased security risks.

As more and more businesses rely on private, public and hybrid clouds for backups, records and apps, more and more hackers are finding ways to create new hacking opportunities. One of the most serious issues that we have seen grow in intensity and numbers over the past year are data breaches.

Yes, the cloud opens up many doors in terms of technological possibilities for businesses, but with these developments comes vulnerabilities. Though, many businesses look to the cloud for an added sense of security, it must be made known that the chance of data breach through the cloud does exist. The good news is that there are steps that can be taken in order to reduce one’s risk of becoming a victim of data breach via the cloud.

Security Breaches in the Cloud

When talking about security breaches in the cloud it is important to understand that hackers are not actually attacking the cloud itself; but rather, the cloud acts as their access point to valuable business and personal data.

Cloud computing risks include many sensitive considerations for both the individual and business. Some examples of cloud computing threats include account or service hijacking, data loss, denial of service, and data breaches among many others.

The cloud is attractive for hackers for many reasons. Among these reasons is that by hacking the cloud they are able to easily gain access to and infiltrate multiple desired targets at once. One minor overlooked flaw in a multi tenant cloud service database can lead to certain disaster. If one single layer is not designed properly and hackers are able to gain access to one client’s application, they may then be able to access data from the entire client database.

Tips to Protect Business Data Breach

The good news is that there are ways to protect yourself, your business and your clients from the damage that can be done via a cloud data breach. Here are some of the top ways to avoid a data breach in the cloud.

  1. Know the apps you use in the cloud: Having a comprehensive understanding of the business readiness of your cloud apps and which ones render you more or less susceptible to a security breach, is step one to protecting your business from a data breach. You can ask yourself the following questions to help determine your understanding of the app: Does the app separate the data of others from yours so that you are not prone to exposure should someone else get breached? Is the data stored on the service encrypted?

  2. Use high-quality apps: Cloud costs are low whether you are moving to the cloud for the first time or just switching from one cloud to another. This means that you can change up and choose apps that best suit the needs of you, your business and your clients easily. If you find that apps you are using no longer meet your criteria, simply talk to your vendor and/or switch. There are a wide array of choices and switching has never been easier.

  3. Know where your data is going: it is important to monitor your data in the cloud. Know where it is going. Consistently review your downloads, uploads, and resting data. Know whether or not you have unencrypted confidential data, or potential personally-identifiable information (PII) in or moving through the cloud.

  4. Monitor user activities: You should always have a good understanding of what apps you are using, where your data is going, as well as the context of the user activity in your account. Consider which apps people are sharing most of their content to. This is a big one. Venture Beat, a tech news source, says that one-fifth of the apps that they track have sharing enabled and these apps do not just consist of cloud storage apps, but also business intelligence, finance and customer relationship apps. Having a complete understanding of who is sharing what and with whom they are sharing it with, will help you to employ the proper policies to protect your business.

  5. Alleviate some risks by way of granular policy instillation: Beginning with those apps that are critical to your business, you should start enforcing policies that will safeguard your organization in the instance of a data breach. This might mean blocking the ability to download PII from HR apps, or blocking the upload of specific information covered in particular privacy acts, and may even mean temporarily blocking access to apps that are known to be vulnerable.

  6. Verify the security protocols of your cloud provider: Make it a point to only utilize cloud providers who more proactive and less reactive about security when it comes to their cloud. Prime examples of proactive cloud service providers are IBM, Amazon and VMware. The provider that you select should consistently be investigating vulnerabilities or weaknesses in their platform. You can ask the provider for proof that their architecture as well as systems have been audited. This will offer you much peace of mind in knowing that their main systems are up to date in terms of regulatory compliance.

  7. Only YOU can be trusted: Despite the adequate amount of security protocols that are put into place by your cloud provider, you must still remember that as a business owner only you are responsible for your data and the security thereof. Make it a point to encrypt all of your data and to make use of the industry’s strictest standards of doing so (i.e. Split key encryption). Using the proper encryption method will ensure that even if a hacker is able to breach the system, they will not be able to read your data.

  8. Test regularly: Make it a point to regularly test for vulnerability and potential for penetration. Running these tests will help you to ensure that hackers are not able to access your sensitive data, and if for some reason they are somehow able to get it, your encryption will render your data virtually useless.

Though cloud data breaches do happen, this is no reason to avoid utilization of such an effective and useful tool for businesses. As noted in the above tips, the key to keeping your data safe and preventing a cloud data breach is to pay careful attention to user activity and the applications in your cloud. Take time to monitor and analyze your apps and you will be significantly minimizing your chances of a security breach.

How do you keep your business data safe in the cloud? If you have further input on how to safeguard against cloud data security breaches, then please share. We would love to hear from you!