Organizational leaders face a challenge when trying to harness the benefits of cloud-based IT infrastructure. They have to ensure that necessary measures are also taken to safeguard against security risks that come with cloud computing. It’s no secret that cloud architecture can be quite complex. Firms not only need to pick the right service provider but also have the right personnel to ensure proper configuration when multiple cloud systems need to communicate securely.
Concerns When Using Cloud Services
With cloud computing, the main fears are often around misconfiguration, unauthorized access to data, the security of APIs, and the risk of user accounts being compromised. Incidence response is also a major concern with cloud services. When you host all your data locally, your organization has full visibility of the extent of attacks in case of a data breach. However, with cloud setups, companies do not have full ownership or visibility of the infrastructure. In case of an incident, the organization might not know the extent of an attack. They instead rely on the response and report of the cloud service provider.
Still, despite the abstraction of some of the responsibility to the cloud service provider, your organization still needs to do some diligence. If your business has or is about to set up a cloud server to run your operations, how do you secure it? Where should you enforce safeguards?
Encryption of Data in Transmission
Data in the transmission is a common target for malicious hackers. When setting up your cloud server, ensure you encrypt all in-transit data. Only use a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) standard for any interaction between the server and user devices. The decryption of data should happen after data reaches the cloud provider’s network.
Securing of Data at Rest
Data should also be encrypted even at rest if you use a cloud storage solution. There are global standards on the required level of encryption and how to secure the encryption keys. When settling on a cloud services provider, it’s important to inquire about what level of security they guarantee for data at rest. As an organization, you are contractually bound to protect sensitive clients’ information; therefore, a security assurance from your cloud provider is important.
Vulnerability is crucial whether you are setting up your own cloud solution or relying on a third-party provider. Threats are evolving continually in an attempt to override new security solutions. The cloud solution provider should have incidence response tools for automated resilience testing. In the past, testing used to happen yearly or quarterly because most of it was manual. However, now automated testing means your organization can generate weekly or even daily reports on the security of their network. This is important for e-commerce and financial organizations with millions of transactions happening daily on their networks. They are obvious targets of thousands of automated malicious tools constantly searching for vulnerabilities.
Have a Data Retention and Deletion Policy
The lack of a data retention and deletion policy and its enforcement could land your organization in regulatory trouble. Ensure you document the type of data that you want to keep about your customers and the reasons therein. In addition, if you are required to remove identifying information about customers, document the process followed for that. How long do you intend to keep the data? You should programmatically delete all the data that is on cue for deletion after the set period expires. It only declutters your cloud storage but also ensures that you do not contravene the law if you are required to delete old data by law.
Updating Software Running on Cloud Servers
Out-of-date software may be a security vulnerability for your cloud server. Therefore, whenever there is a new security update or patch for the software you use to run operations, ensure it is automatically updated. It is also safer to shut down any services you are not using because each running service is potentially a target. Your cloud maintenance team should have the right technical knowledge to distinguish essential from non-essential services and keep the latter shut when not in use.
Back-Up Your Data
Even when your cloud storage provider has never suffered a malicious attack, have a backup for all your important data. This is the last line of defense in case you suffer a ransomware attack. Instead of paying hackers to release your data, you have the option of restoring your operations using the backed-up data and then deleting the already compromised data.
Implement User-Level Data Security Measures
Human error is a top cause of data breaches. You, therefore, need to add additional layers of security to your cloud services. Ensure role-based access control to your cloud server. Only allow users certain features and permissions based on their day-to-day tasks. Your organization should have administrative controls such as segregation of duties in line with standards on data security.
Cloud Service provider Certification
Ensure that your cloud services provider holds proper industry-standard certifications on security. Such certifications come after detailed audits of their architecture, policies, procedures, software design, and network architecture. These audits are an assurance that sensitive data handled or stored in the provider’s network is safe. The PCI DSS and SOC Type II are examples of certifications for cloud service providers.
Virtual Private Cloud
It is possible for your cloud-service provider to create a private cloud environment that is exclusive for use by your organization. A virtual private cloud is a silo within a public cloud that ensures you do not share the cloud infrastructure with other users. VPCs ensure that your mission-critical cloud applications are secure, but it also delivers a better experience for customers accessing your cloud servers. The most popular cloud services worldwide, including Google, Amazon, and IBM, all have a virtual private cloud solution.
Working with the Right Partners
It’s important that your company conducts a proper assessment of the cloud infrastructure it wants to use. The choice of cloud-service provider is important in terms of security and integration. Working with a technology consultant is important when your in-house team does not have the proper experience to take on a cloud-infrastructure project where the are many variables to consider.
Transcendent Software LLC is an IT services company that helps clients implement complex projects. We offer integrations and customizations of software as well as cloud systems deployment and testing. Reach out to us today for a free consultation session.