Improving Cloud Storage Security: How to Secure Your Sensitive Data in the Cloud Properly

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When it comes to storing data and files, nothing is more widely used than cloud-based storage. As much as 50% of the world’s corporate data is stored in the cloud and that number is rising every day, which only shows cloud online storage is here to stay.

But just because it’s so widely used, it doesn’t mean it’s as secure as some people think. Cloud storage security is a widely discussed topic, and while most secure cloud storage services offer ample security, sometimes that’s not enough.

What Is Cloud Security?

Cloud security is a term that describes all of the procedures and technology that are used to ensure cloud computing environments are safe from threats. This includes both internal and external threats.

One thing you always need to remember about cloud security is that it’s a shared responsibility. The cloud provider and the cloud storage user are both equally responsible for ensuring the data stored within the cloud is safe from threats. This is known as the shared responsibility model.

If you aren’t too familiar with the cloud, here you can learn everything you need to know about cloud storage. One thing you need to know is that your provider, as long as you choose a reliable one with a solid cloud security policy, will go above and beyond to ensure cloud storage security.

But since the shared responsibility model is always going to be in effect, you need to do your part and take care of your responsibilities. While this doesn’t require a lot of work, it ensures cloud data security is maintained.

Why Is Cloud Security Important?

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Cloud security is one of the most pressing issues in business today because a lot of organizations are using the cloud to store their most valuable files. In fact, 48% of businesses choose to store their most important data in the cloud, and if this data isn’t protected, those businesses will face serious repercussions.

The most important component of cloud security is protecting that business data. This can include everything from financial records to customer information and anything in between.

To truly understand the importance of cloud security, we need to look at everything it does:

  • Guarding against data breaches. A data breach can cause the company to lose a lot of valuable data, which negatively impacts its financial health. If confidential data leaks, your company might be facing a lawsuit, lose the majority of its customer base, and even go under.
  • Allowing you to comply with regulations. There are a lot of regulations that require businesses to stay compliant such as the GDPR or HIPPA. For all of these regulations, the most important thing is that data stays protected.
  • Managing remote work. With remote work becoming the new norm over the past couple of years, many businesses rely on cloud storage to maintain business continuity. With a secure cloud solution, your entire team can collaborate on projects effortlessly.
  • Ensuring disaster recovery. Even though we don’t like to think about it, disasters can strike at any time. A big part of learning how to keep your data safe is having a plan for what to do in the event of a disaster. Luckily, secure cloud data can always be recovered after a disaster.

4 Ways to Improve Your Cloud Storage Security

Let’s circle back to what we mentioned about the cloud data protection shared responsibility model. As a cloud storage user, it’s your duty to do everything in your power to improve cloud storage security while taking advantage of the security your cloud storage vendor provides.

Here are some ways you can do that.

Always use two-factor authentication

While using secure passwords is the first step in securing anything online, nowadays it’s simply not enough. Hackers can easily bypass passwords, so you need to take the extra step and enable two-factor authentication, sometimes also known as multi-factor authentication.

This additional security step will send a one-time security code to an authorized person’s email, phone number, or both. And only after you’ve put in this code will you be able to access your cloud storage account. With two-factor authentication, you don’t have to worry about unauthorized access.

Most cloud service providers see multi-factor authentication as one of the most important aspects of cloud security, so they always include it.

Take a look at your off-boarding process

In most companies, current employees need to have access to the cloud, which is normal. However, in some cases, managers and business owners forget to take away that access after an employee has left the organization, and that’s a big security risk.

Make sure to create an off-boarding process during which each employee who’s leaving your company no longer has access to your cloud storage.

Manage user access

Just because your employees need access to the cloud, that doesn’t mean everyone needs to be able to access every file, piece of information, or application on your corporate storage.

As a way to minimize risk, manage user access and set proper levels of authorization and access controls so employees can only access and manipulate the data they need for their day-to-day operations. This is especially important if you need to stay compliant with regulations such as HIPPA and GDPR.

With the proper precautions and well-managed user access, you can keep your cloud-stored data safe and secure files from eavesdropping.  

Educate your employees

In a world that runs on technology, not everyone is as tech-savvy as they should be. There is a big chance that some of your employees might unintentionally fall for a phishing scam and unintentionally bring a threat through a malicious file into your system.

If you want to protect your files from ransomware or a malware attack, it’s essential to train your employees so they can recognize suspicious and malicious activities.

Ideally, you could offer ongoing training that will cover all the important points and teach employees how a phishing attack can occur and how to recognize a malicious file. If possible, hire a data security expert who will educate your employees on how to prevent a ransomware attack.

Minimizing the Risks

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Another big part of cloud storage security is finding ways to minimize the risk and security threats as much as possible. Luckily, there are multiple ways to do this.

Encrypt your data

When data is encrypted, it turns a readable format into something that is known as ciphertext. Data encryption significantly minimizes cloud security risks because it makes the data unreadable to anyone that doesn’t have the encryption key.

A lot of cloud storage solutions already offer one of the multiple encryption methods. But before you sign up for a service, check if your cloud storage provider has a secure encryption algorithm. If not, you will have to look into client-side encryption.

Secure login credentials

One of the most common ways cybercriminals get into systems is by stealing login credentials. To stop unauthorized accesses, create a strong credential management solution so the chances of someone stealing login credentials are minimized.

Additionally, as an extra layer of security, it would be smart to create a protocol that should be taken in case someone’s login credentials end up stolen. And even though this should be the norm in all companies, make sure all of your employees know the difference between strong and weak passwords.

Implement the appropriate data security controls

Something that not a lot of organizations realize is that each cloud provider has different security controls and multiple protection levels. When you sign up for a cloud service, carefully review what security controls they offer and choose one that best suits your business needs.

You need the right security policy and the best security features so you can make sure you have every extra layer of protection that you need. Remember that not all security measures are equally efficient, so you shouldn’t entrust your sensitive files to a service that can’t protect them properly.

Create a solid risk migration plan

Not all data is created equal, and while it’s tempting to store all of your company’s data on the cloud, you need to take a step back and ask yourself if that’s really necessary.

Before you upload any type of data onto the cloud, make sure to perform a data risk assessment to determine what risks would be associated with that data’s exposure. If you’re planning to store some highly sensitive data that should under no circumstance be leaked, think again.

Final Thoughts

Entrusting your precious data to a cloud storage service still seems daunting to some businesses because they worry about security risks and data breaches. And even though the cloud is one of the safest storage options currently available, it isn’t without its risks.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should avoid the cloud. All you need to do is remember the shared responsibility model and work together with your service provider to make sure your data is always safe.

As long as you have the right cloud protection approach and choose a good cloud storage provider, there’s nothing to worry about.

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