Cloud Security Best Practices for 2022
Today, cloud computing is more than just another alternative for the business case. It has become an effective way to reduce costs, ensure constant availability and reduce downtime. Previously, connecting to the corporate network by accessing corporate accounts, files, and servers was only possible from desktops and workspaces where firewalls or other security tools security protected the information.
However, the emergence of cloud applications has changed the game by allowing users to access corporate applications, documents and services remotely. According to a IDG survey, 92% of organizations’ IT environments today are at least partially cloud-based. However, cloud services present the challenge and risk of data security in the cloud, which has necessitated new security tools and practices.
For businesses considering the public cloud, security is a top concern. As organizations move from offline networks to cloud networks and more sensitive data is put at risk, security must be at the forefront.
Typically, cloud service providers are responsible for the physical security of data centers and the protection of their systems from cyberattacks. However, keeping data or running applications on infrastructure that is not directly managed by the organization is apparently not secure.
For organizations looking to protect their cloud environments, the following best practices can help ensure critical data and applications don’t fall into the wrong hands.
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Cloud Security Best Practices
Choose the right cloud service provider
With more external IT teams and an abundance of options, it becomes necessary to choose a cloud service provider that suits your set of needs. Selecting the right cloud service provider starts with complying with their security certificates and compliances. Next, assess your organization’s specific security goals and compare the security measures offered by various service providers and the mechanisms they use to protect applications and data.
Ask detailed questions that match your use case, industry, and regulatory requirements, and express other definitive concerns. The service provider’s architectural platform should be consistent with the compliance standards that apply to your industry and organization. Another key consideration is to find out about the level and mode of support services.
Understanding the Shared Responsibility Model
In private data centers, the organization is responsible for managing all data security issues. However, in the public cloud, providers share some of that burden. Clearly defining which security operations are handled by either party can lead to successful implementation of security in cloud environments.
The shared responsibility security model varies with each service provider and differs when using infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS). A clear shared responsibility model ensures that there are no gaps in a system’s security coverage. Otherwise, obscurities in your shared responsibilities can leave certain areas of the cloud system unattended and exposed to external threats.
Implementation of identity and access management
In an increasingly heterogeneous technology environment, identity and access management (IAM) is essential to protect critical business systems, assets and information from unauthorized access. Identity and access management provides effective security for cloud environments by performing different security functions such as authentication, authorization, and providing storage and verification.
This authentication system helps manage access rights by checking if the right person with the right privileges is accessing information stored on cloud applications. Verification mechanisms can include physical or digital methods, such as public key infrastructure. Also, setting access levels will further help control how much data a person can edit or view even after gaining access.
One of the main advantages of using cloud-based applications is that storing and transferring data becomes easy. However, organizations need to ensure that they don’t just upload data to the cloud and forget about it. An additional step is to protect the data uploaded to the cloud, called encryption.
Encryption makes data hidden from unauthorized users by translating it into another form or code. Organizations must not only encrypt their data in the public cloud, but also provide encryption while in transit when the data is most vulnerable. These encryption services may be aided by cloud service providers or third-party vendors.
It’s ideal to find encryption options that fit into the existing workflow so that there’s no need to take extra precautions to ensure compliance.
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Protect user endpoints
Cloud services drive a greater need for endpoint security. Users are required to access cloud services through website browsers and personal devices. Therefore, enterprises must deploy an endpoint security solution to secure end user devices. They can protect data from vulnerabilities by initiating effective client-side security and forcing users to update their browsers regularly.
It is better to adopt a tool that includes internet security measures such as access verification tools, firewalls, antivirus and mobile device security. In addition, automation tools also serve as a systematic solution to endpoint security issues.
Development of all employees
For a secure cloud computing experience, user education should be the primary focus to improve protection. How users interact with cloud applications will expose the environment to cyberattacks or protect it.
Therefore, organizations must train all employees in cybersecurity fundamentals to identify anomalies and respond accordingly. This high level of awareness within teams can prevent attackers from obtaining credentials to access sensitive data and cloud computing tools.
While standard practices such as generating strong passwords or recognizing phishing emails should be included in their training, users should also be aware of the risks associated with shadow IT. Consider high-level training and certification for more advanced users and administrators directly involved in implementing cloud security.
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Log maintenance and monitoring
With cloud infrastructure logging capabilities, organizations can help identify unauthorized activity. A logging and monitoring system will allow security teams to quickly identify people who are making changes to the cloud environment, allowing faster access to the root of an issue.
When an intruder gains access to the system and meddles with settings or data, the logs show who is responsible and what kind of change was made so it can be implemented quickly. In the event of an unusual event, ensure that alerts are set to occur when it begins.
Secure your cloud environments
With the advance of the cloud and faster connectivity, businesses of all sizes can seamlessly access tools, data and services. The benefits of cloud-based workspaces outweigh those of traditional data centers, bringing a whole new set of challenges. However, this should not prevent organizations from using public cloud services. Businesses can minimize risk and reap greater benefits by following best practices and implementing the right tools and strategies.
The cloud environment has great potential, but it may seem unfamiliar at first. However, you will gradually adapt to this environment as you progress. In this process, a crucial aspect is to find weak security points and strengthen them consistently. Misconfigured cloud infrastructures can lead to several invisible vulnerabilities that significantly increase an organization’s attack surface.
Enterprises and cloud service providers must work transparently and demonstrate their interest in the creation and continuous reconfiguration of a secure cloud computing framework.
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