Cloud computing is the digital cloud storage of today and moving forward. Powerful, flexible and versatile, there is no world that cloud computing won’t be utterly ubiquitous within a few years. According to the research firm, Gartner, the public cloud services market will reach $186.4 billion this year, a 21% growth from 2017. Despite the massive jump, more growth is expected. By 2021 the same company projects the market to reach $302 billion by 2021.
Cloud computing services offer so much upside with more untapped potential in store. Such growth comes with opportunities for bad actors as well. As the proliferation of cloud services continues, so too will the need for cloud computing security solutions.
The same services that make the cloud an attractive option for business also make it equally attractive for hackers. Clouds are full of sensitive, valuable information and hackers are all too aware of that fact. Last year hackers made hay on a simple S3 bucket misconfiguration on Amazon Web Services — so many organizations were hacked the list is too long to put here.
Since then Amazon has made a change to allow users to protect their data more easily but it remains as an example of how hackers will be continually probing the weaknesses of cloud web security. We at RSI security understand the importance of cloud security compliance and the ever changing cybersecurity landscape. That’s why we’d like to pass on 10 tips for how to improve your cloud security and to receive education awareness about the importance of cybersecurity awareness training.
Know Where Your Data Lives:
This may seem like an overly simple cloud computing data security solution. However, it is an important one and many times overlooked. Most times private data is stored in a number of different places: centralized servers, your own cloud provider’s server, third party servers, and even on personal devices of your employees. Understanding exactly where your most sensitive data is held helps you know where you need the most security.
If you don’t know exactly where vital information is, how can you expect to protect it? Cybersecurity can be extremely complicated with firewalls, block ciphers, decryption keys and so much more. On the other hand, following proper cloud storage services security can come down to common sense, like knowing exactly where vital information is stored.
Encryption Going In and Out:
There are many different layers of cloud web security. How many you ultimately use is up to you. Encrypting your data at various points and at different levels adds a couple more layers of breathing easy. The best cloud services offer encryption at multiple levels, all the way up to Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which is military grade. Syncing files may take a little longer but keeping certain information safe is well worth the wait.
It should be noted that you don’t have to encrypt everything to the 9th degree, just the information that you can’t afford to lose. There is also the option of encrypting data before putting it on the cloud. This is an easier and more affordable means of protecting your data but by no means fool-proof.
Going as far as encrypting your data before it enters the cloud and during isn’t an outlandish or paranoid step. As the head of security for Country Energy, Robbie Sinclair says, “Security is always excessive until it’s not enough.”
Back It Up:
“Back it up” may be the most uttered and ignored advice when it comes to technology but there’s a good reason why you do it. It’s the same reason you have a back-up plan for anything: things go wrong. Whether it’s a human error, an especially adroit hacker or even a natural disaster, cloud computing services are not infallible. That’s just a fact.
Having a backup, especially one not connected to the cloud or even better not connected to anything is smart planning. That way regardless of how damaging the problem is, you’ll know you won’t have lost everything. It’s like having quality home insurance; peace of mind when everything seems to be going wrong is priceless.
Multi-Factor Authentication Checks:
Since you have listened to our advice and know exactly where any and all sensitive information is kept, it’s time to double up security in those areas. A simple and effective way to do that is to use multi-factor authentication mechanisms. They come in many forms and like encryption add an extra layer of security around what matters most. You can even have biometric authentication, so only the right people are accessing your sensitive information.
Charles Kolodgy, senior security strategist at IBM, discusses their lack of use, “Authentication is something you have, something you know, and something you are when you add biometrics. I think right now users see [authentication methods] as separate items. The technology is there, but the idea is not.”
Cloud web security is a very real concern and one that cannot be overlooked. Whether you are a big or small company, failure to protect sensitive information can cost thousands upon thousands of dollars, not too mention a major PR nightmare. So use the technology that’s available; don’t assume that cybersecurity is only required for large enterprises.
The biggest liability when it comes to cybersecurity isn’t firewalls or faulty encryptions. It’s human beings. It’s not all that surprising; when compared to machines, we are ridiculously fallible. We share information we shouldn’t, forget to patch when we need to and trust far too easily in the machines we have designed to protect us.
Another list that is far too long is the one recording cyber attacks caused by human error. From CEOs to mailroom workers, there is every example imaginable of hackers taking advantage of human mistakes. That’s why you should limit the access of sensitive information to the people who actually need it and use it consistently. Anyone else should have to go to that person for information they need. It’s like only giving keys to one or two trusted people as opposed to everyone you know having a set. It limits the potential for human mistakes.
One step that many organizations don’t usually do is test their security. Too often organizations assume whoever they are hiring has done their job and will protect them from malicious hackers. Unfortunately, that head in the sand approach hasn’t proved very effective. There is a saying in the cybersecurity world, “There are two types of enterprises, those who have been hacked and know it and those who have been hacked and don’t.” That doesn’t mean every single business in history has been hacked but the potential is very real. That’s why you need to segment sensitive information. Most organizations will face some level of hacking. The question is will the damage done put your business on CNN.
Hiring ethical hackers to conduct an external penetration test is a smart way to see if your cybersecurity is indeed up to snuff. Understanding what you are up against and planning for it is always a better approach than assuming all is well. It is also the most effective means to see if you got what you paid for.
Choose Your Cloud Provider Wisely:
There are many cloud providers out there and choosing one can be a difficult process as there are many aspects to consider. Naturally, you want a cloud provider that fits your business needs. Whether that is based on computing power, flexibility and the variety of services offered depend on the needs of your company.
Performing a due diligence report on your prospective cloud providers is highly recommended. You should understand what they bring to the table and how they can help you compared to other cloud service providers. Whichever cloud provider you choose is going to be the home for essentially all of your information. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses is just as important as knowing yours.
It is also key that you know what their process is in the event of data loss. Data loss could be caused by natural disasters, human error, or troublesome hackers. Problems will inevitably arise and knowing what their response will be is clearly important. As Denis Waitley, a motivational speaker, says, “Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.”
However, there is another aspect that businesses need to consider when choosing a cloud provider: geographical jurisdiction and data storing laws in the country or region of your provider. This is a very technical and legal consideration but one that cannot be ignored. In the same vein that your business has technical requirements for your cloud provider, it will also have legal ones.
Data protection laws are quickly changing as countries realize the ever changing landscape of internet privacy laws. Understanding what your cloud provider is required by law to do is essential before choosing one.
Unfortunately, hackers are constantly creating new types of trojan horses and cyber worms to penetrate your systems. However, that doesn’t mean you should throw your hands up and say there’s no possibility of protection for yourself. Many anti-virus software is free and or at low cost; the key is being diligent with your updates and patches. Believe it or not, some of the largest and most publicized data breaches were caused by out of date software and insufficient patching.
These types of software are no guarantee against the legion of hacker software, but it does minimize your chances. Not installing such software is a little like paddling out on a surfboard with a giant piece of meat attached to your leg. Hackers are constantly on the lookout for easy entry points like a computer that hasn’t been updated in a while. Yes, it may be really annoying to continually get the notifications that you need to update your anti-virus software but the alternative is becoming hacker food.
Read The Fine Print:
As we mentioned, understanding the capabilities, services and procedures of your cloud provider is crucial. It’s also just as important to understand what rights they have to your information. That may sound ridiculous but some cloud providers share your files and pictures with other companies. Yes, as crazy as it sounds, some cloud providers claim the right to share some of your stuff. After the recent revelation of Facebook sharing private individuals information with companies, it’s clear the fine print can no longer be ignored. That’s also far from the first time something like this has happened. Twitpic back in 2011 did something similar. Cloud platforms can be a powerful tool, but can also blow up in your face if you don’t understand the ins and outs.
Set Clear and Defined Procedures Top to Bottom:
As we have touched on, hackers are as prolific as they have ever been and their influence is only likely to grow. Therefore, as cloud users, companies must have very well defined protocols and procedures for everyone from the lowest desk jockey all the way to the top dog. Security breaches are bound to happen. By having a set protocol you will minimize the damage and halt repeat incidents.
Rules and regulations also can’t be created and then left to gather dust. Cybersecurity must be ever changing and evolving if it is to be effective. It may sound like a headache but it’s far better than the alternative of having to notify customers that you lost their sensitive data. According to Forbes, the average cost of a data breach is highest in the United States at $3.86 million. Yes, you read that right. That is the average cost of a data breach in the United States. Some of the larger breaches were in the hundreds of millions of dollars in terms of cost. Proper cloud security compliance is no longer optional but rather a necessity.
Technology is an amazing asset that we all take for granted. It’s also why when it doesn’t work, we’d like to throw the computer out the window. It’s an apt snapshot of the life of technology: either humming along smoothly or driving us completely insane. That’s why we exist at RSI security: to eliminate and minimize the frustration when technology decides it wants to be difficult. Contact RSI Security for more information about how we can help you through your cybersecurity solutions.