It is no secret that over the years cloud computing has emerged as the undisputed choice for application hosting, data management, and software development process. It is because the cloud environment offers you flexible high-performance computing solutions to suit your business process. Other distinguishing aspects of the cloud environment is its high scalability and remote accessibility.
According to Gartner, the worldwide public cloud services market is projected to grow 17.3 percent in 2019 to total $206.2 billion, up from $175.8 billion in 2018. The IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) market is expected to grow the highest with 27.6 percent in 2019 to reach $39.5 billion, up from $31 billion in 2018.
Is Your Data Secure?
The above forecast confirms the fact that the cloud industry is ever-growing and here to stay. However, the recent growth in the rate of cyber attacks and data breaches on some of the prominent cloud service providers have made the people reevaluate their hosting options.
According to CSIS, even the government agencies are not safe from these attacks and are at constant risk of confidential and critical data leak concerning national security, finances as well as elections.
The perpetrator can attack the cloud services with various forms of attack such as Ransomware, DDoS attacks, and Web API hacks depending on their motive.
These attacks are generally carried out due to a loophole in the security safeguards of the cloud provider or at the user end. Hence, it is the responsibility of both to ensure a reliable process.
Here are some of the practices you can include in your business process to ensure data security from your end.
1. Data Encryption
Data encryption is the process of converting the data into an encrypted form so that only the authorized users can access the data. For instance, “Michael Jordan is the best” can be encrypted into “234gieuv758@&^,” and nobody will be able to comprehend the data. The data in its true form is called “plaintext,” whereas the encrypted data is called “ciphertext.”
Although most renowned cloud hosting providers offer end-to-end encryption to ensure secure transmission of data, it is recommended for the customers to ensure data encryption at user endpoints.
2. Strong Password Policy
It is vital for every organization to have a strong password policy for all the processes, hosted locally or on the cloud. Under the strong password policy, the employees should be instructed to set up a strong password for the operating system, software, and all the online accounts.
A strong password policy encompasses the set of rules that should be followed to create a strong password to prevent access by unauthorized users. These include the length of the password, the combination of characters, and other criteria.
For instance, accessing your accounting software such as QuickBooks or Sage hosted on the cloud can be achieved through any portable devices including smartphones, laptops, and tablets. You have to make sure that each of these devices is locked and cannot be accessed without a strong password.
Although the cloud hosting providers ask you to set up a strong password at the time of setting your account, it is also your responsibility to implement a strong password policy for your local systems as well.
3. Choose the Right Cloud Provider
Needless to say, the first and foremost consideration to ensure data security is to opt for the cloud service provider that deploy advanced security practices and safeguards.
Although all the competent cloud providers in the market adopt security practices and deploy safeguards, it is wise to thoroughly analyze the security features and policies of the cloud provider before deciding to host your process on the cloud.
To ensure the security and integrity of data, the cloud provider should include the following:
- A backup policy that states the number of days the provider will keep your backup
- A strong password policy ensuring the protection of your data from unauthorized users
- A Disaster Recovery Plan describing the safeguards and the procedure to ensure data security in the event of a disaster
- Administrative, physical, and security safeguards such as access controls, multi-factor authentication, end-to-end-encryption, Intrusion Prevention and Detection and Systems (IPS & IDS)
- Tier3+/Tier-4 data centers certified with security certifications like SSAE 16
4. Access Control Policy
Access Control Policy is implemented to ensure the authorized access to the system or faculty. Access control can be implemented on a physical as well as a virtual entity.
Physical access control involves authorizing access to a server room or office. This can be achieved through multiple levels of verifications like retina check, fingerprint scanner, access cards among others. Whereas, virtual access control would involve setting file permissions, giving access to users only to specific data, etc. For instance, IT personnel should not have access to financial documents, and vice-versa.
The cloud providers include access control lists to set different permissions for each group of users. You can too, deploy access control policies at your end to ensure protection against unauthorized users accessing your data.
5. Backup Important Information
Most cloud hosting providers backup your data on redundant servers to ensure its integrity is intact.
Moreover, they also deploy Disaster Recovery to keep your data safe during a disruptive event.
Suffice to say the cloud providers take every precaution to keep your data secure.
However, it wisely said never to put all your eggs in one basket. To be on the safer side, some of the critical data that is stored in the cloud should be backed up locally as well. If by any chance, the integrity of your data on the cloud gets compromised or is inaccessible, you have the critical piece of data to fall back on.
Data Security is Important!
There is no greater concern for any organization than data security. This can be inferred from the fact that the cyber attacks such as Ransomware are aimed at demanding millions in revenue from the organization in exchange for their data.
The organization has no choice to pay the attackers as they cannot risk losing the data or being exposed to the outer world. Hence, it is paramount to ensure data security through every safeguard possible. The cloud providers analyze their infrastructure regularly for any discrepancy that might cause data leak.
However, it is your responsibility as well to find and analyze security flaws within your organization and fix them.
How are you securing your data on the cloud? If you know other methods to keep the data safe, please let us know in the comments section.