Best Cloud Security Best Practices- These ten critical cloud security best practises are required for any company transitioning to the cloud. Any of these steps that are overlooked could result in a security disaster.
The corporate and technological landscapes have been transformed by cloud computing. Any respectable organisation nowadays would never choose onsite IT infrastructure over cloud services. Cloud computing, to put it simply, is a system that consists of networked remote servers. Cloud service providers use the network to deliver data storage units and computational software programmes for data processing and management to cloud customers. Cloud technology can be accessed via an internet connection, allowing users to do so from their offices or from the comfort of their own homes.
Currently, at least 90% of enterprises use various cloud services, with analysts predicting that by the end of 2019, companies would be running 60% of their activities on the cloud.
1 This demonstrates that cloud computing is already commonplace. Cloud services, on the other hand, are online-based, which has attracted the attention of all hackers. For attackers, the increased reliance on cloud services to store and manage sensitive data is ample reason. As a result, all businesses and consumers must be aware of the best security procedures in order to appropriately protect their cloud environments. The top 10 internationally approved cloud security practises are shown below.
Cloud Security Best Practices #1: Securely manage your data
All cloud users should be concerned about data security. To obtain the best data security, start by identifying the data that contains the most sensitive information. Stronger security is required for highly sensitive data. Some, on the other hand, would prefer to apply high-level security to all cloud data. Due to considerations such as data amount and format (audio, visual, print, etc. ), this may not be sufficient. Furthermore, patents and intellectual property information cannot be safeguarded in the same manner that corporate ledgers can. Or, for that matter, personally identifiable information. Because of their worth and relevance to the organisation, certain types of data must be preserved at all costs. A data classification software can help you figure out which data needs to be secured more.
After that, put in place a thorough security solution. It should be able to locate sensitive data in the network, databases, endpoints, and cloud storage units of the firm. The solution must provide protection without sacrificing flexibility or data access. While this is true, the procedures for data access and storage should be prioritised. According to McAfee’s Cloud 2019 Adoption and Risk Adoption Report, 21 percent of data managed in the cloud contains sensitive content. 2 All cloud service providers, including Office 365 and Salesforce, make no guarantees about data security. As a result, it is critical to check and change data access rights on a regular basis. In some cases, a company may be required to remove or quarantine highly sensitive data.
In addition, a company’s data sharing policies must be strictly enforced. The amount of sensitive data transferred through the cloud has increased by 50% in 2019. 3 The chances of hostile employees or hackers gaining access to cloud data and stealing or corrupting it are far too great. Regardless of whether or not a corporation has implemented effective mitigation techniques, it must set up adequate access controls for any data stored and accessed via the cloud. Users who need to edit data, for example, may be fewer than those who only need to see it. As a result, access controls should be adjusted to each employee’s permissions.
It would be a catastrophic mistake to rely on the cloud provider’s data encryption measures. Although the encryptions provided prevent unauthorised users from accessing the data, service providers have access to the encryption keys and can decode the data at any moment. As a result, implementing full access control necessitates the use of strong encryptions and sufficient public key infrastructures.
Cloud Security Best Practices #2: Implement endpoint security
The use of a cloud provider’s services or applications does not negate the necessity for strong endpoint security. Endpoint security refers to the protection of end-user devices such as laptops, desktops, and mobile phones. Endpoints to corporate networks, as well as devices used to access cloud accounts, must be protected. This is due to the fact that they serve as access points to all cloud operations, and bad actors can take advantage of them at any time. Endpoint security improves a company’s ability to prevent dangerous activities that can serve as entry points. Furthermore, implementing endpoint protection and compliance with existing data security requirements allows a company to keep a tighter grip on its data.
Regardless, due to the increasing number of access points to a cloud, endpoint protection has an impact on cloud security. Organizations are increasingly improving their operations by implementing strategies for more flexible data access. They use BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy, for example, where employees can view and change cloud data using their personal devices. The devices must have sufficient endpoint protection so that hackers do not have an easy target for stealing or manipulating data. Using VPNs when accessing cloud accounts over a public Wi-Fi network is one example.
Furthermore, today’s cyber adversaries prefer to compromise a network or data security via endpoints. This is in contrast to the past, when the majority of breaches were carried out through a network. As a result, relying on a centralised network security solution might not be enough. The rising usage of the Internet of Things in cloud management comes with higher dangers because it expands the number of possible access points. Endpoint security is becoming increasingly important as the number of security breaches through endpoints rises.
But what are the different methods that might help a cloud user retain the highest level of security? The first and most fundamental method is to use password protection. To prevent unauthorised people from accessing their devices, all users must use strong passwords. Employees should also refrain from sharing work-related devices. An unintentional deletion of all data stored in the cloud by an innocent user is possible. Furthermore, virus scanning software should be installed on all devices before they connect to a corporate network to check USB sticks or hard drives. This reduces the chances of a hacker infecting endpoints with malware.
Cloud Security Best Practice #3: Select cloud vendors with care
To attract more consumers, all cloud service providers make every effort to implement cloud security standards. Some providers may even provide stronger security than what in-house workers can provide. Some may claim to have the best protection as a marketing tag, but in reality, their security measures are inadequate. To this purpose, every organization’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is responsible for supporting their employers in selecting the most secure vendors. Some businesses may even need to hire suppliers to create security procedures in order to protect themselves from industry-specific dangers.
Organizations can examine their security capabilities using a variety of parameters to identify the most secure cloud providers. Examining their degrees of compliance with various information compliance requirements is one of them. Different legislation, such as GDPR and HIPAA, encourage businesses to implement various measures aimed at ensuring data security. A firm should need cloud service providers to submit compliance certificates to guarantee that they are fully compliant. When a provider is certified, it implies they have met all of the standards of a compliance audit. Cloud companies should also show that they can guarantee data and network availability 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Because data is at the heart of vital operations, cloud providers should keep several backups.
Furthermore, a business should only choose a cloud service that does frequent risk evaluations. Cloud providers can deploy mitigation methods before hackers can attack their servers and IT infrastructure by assessing security threats. Every cloud provider should perform risk assessment and management as part of their cybersecurity operations. Finally, a business must engage the services of a cloud vendor who clearly states the customer’s security responsibilities. Cloud security is a collaborative process in which both providers and clients must play their parts to achieve the highest level of protection. A cloud provider, for example, should apply fixes on a regular basis to avoid zero-day assaults. Customers, on the other hand, should establish security policies that govern cloud data access, sharing, and change.
Cloud Security Best Practices #4: Monitor and prevent
When it comes to safeguarding cloud activities, users and cloud service providers play different responsibilities. They’re also in charge of monitoring and responding to any suspected cloud security issues. The security of the infrastructures that cloud suppliers employ to provide services to cloud customers is monitored by cloud vendors. The customer, on the other hand, keeps track of the apps and systems that different users use to access the services. In addition, service providers frequently provide customers with monitoring data for the services they use. By relying on monitoring data, a company can put in place measures to detect instances of unauthorised access. They can also utilise the data to look for any unusual changes in a user’s behaviour when interacting with cloud data and applications.
It’s also critical for a business to implement additional monitoring that works in tandem with cloud automation. Autoscaling is one of the automation systems used by cloud providers to provide users with round-the-clock access to more resources as needed. Integrative monitoring gives you complete visibility into all of your cloud resources. As a result, users can recognise unexpected events promptly and resolve them to avoid security issues.
Collaboration is also crucial in this operation, as it is in all others. Cloud companies keep an eye on the IT infrastructure that is used to deliver services and compute resources. Complete SaaS apps, networks, IaaS such as storage units, and virtual machines are examples. The service providers may notice behaviours that could have a negative influence on the data or apps stored in the cloud by a customer. In consequence, the provider may need to notify a customer of the activities in order to arrange an appropriate response.
A cloud user may also notice other actions that they are unable to address without the assistance of the service providers. Responding to any security incident necessitates the participation of both providers and consumers. Effective collaboration requires an understanding of a cloud provider’s limitations in terms of monitoring and responding to security incidents, so that the provider is not caught off guard.
Cloud Security Best Practices #5: Conduct due diligence
Cloud users must have a thorough understanding of their cloud provider’s applications and networks. Understanding them can help a business deliver reliability, security, and functionality for cloud-based systems and applications. As a result, they must exercise caution throughout the whole lifecycle of deployed systems or applications. Companies should choose suitable cloud apps or service providers to migrate to during the planning phase of a cloud migration. Benchmarking against other firms that employ a specific cloud provider’s services can be quite useful. The information can be used by first-time cloud deployments to see if a service provider implements security measures that satisfy their expectations.
In addition, when using apps and services provided by the cloud provider, a cloud user should always follow the provider’s guidelines and published best practises. When designing a cloud-based application, for example, developers should adhere to the cloud service provider’s requirements and security policies. When migrating to a cloud system or application that has already been established, examining its documentation and cooperating with the vendor might provide useful information on how to use it securely.
Cloud providers, moreover, abstract services in order to optimise resource utilisation and access. Physical applications, networks, and hardware may mimic abstracted services. Consumers should be aware that security methods and rules applied to abstracted services or resources differ from those applied to physical resources. Organizations can watch security by analysing and comprehending security techniques established on virtual resources before subscribing to their utilisation. These should serve as a guidance for how people gain access to them.
Furthermore, enterprises must implement procedures to guarantee that users operate cloud applications safely when deploying or developing them. Cloud customers interact with virtualized resources using software rather than physical resources such as drives, networking devices, and servers. All cloud-access operations should be guided by software security procedures such as patch management and vulnerability testing.
Cloud Security Best Practices #6: Implement intrusion detection and prevention systems
According to a CloudPassage survey, intrusion prevention and detection systems are the third most successful cloud security solution.
4 The systems look for signals of infiltration in cloud and business networks and prohibit illegal access. Additionally, they promptly notify a security administrator of the efforts, allowing mitigation options to be deployed. Intrusion detection and prevention systems, in particular, are capable of responding to intrusion attempts. Preventing and denying access from the source of the attempted attack are examples of such responses.
An organisation might also think about putting artificially intelligent preventive and detection systems in place. Artificial intelligence learns all of the user activities that access a specific cloud environment. It develops knowledge of the types of data an employee commonly uses and the types of cloud resources the person wants, for example. As a result, anytime a new user engages in odd behaviour, the system labels him as a dangerous entity and blocks him from accessing any more requests. As a result, the likelihood of a malevolent insider impersonating a legitimate user causing an incursion is reduced.
In addition, intrusion detection and prevention systems reduce the number of false positives created. These are fake intrusion warnings generated by a system. False positives can occur when a user is assigned new roles, causing an intrusion prevention and detection system to notify as suspicious activity. Because the notifications turn out to be false security alarms, false positives can drive a corporation to engage in unneeded security measures.
Cloud Security Best Practices #7: Define cloud usage policies for all employees
Despite the fact that firms develop a corporate plan for securely accessing cloud accounts, employees frequently use the clouds without following the policies in place. When they transfer or modify cloud data, for example, they may neglect to notify the appropriate parties. As a result, keeping track on their usage behaviours is an important part of ensuring cloud security. Monitoring gives you a clear view of what services or resources a specific employee uses and how they use them. Users that engage in suspect cloud usage can be denied access to prevent them from posing a security risk to cloud data and apps.
An company can examine network firewalls, logs gathered in the security information and event management system, and web proxies to establish the danger levels a given user poses to cloud security. The results of the evaluation can then be used by security employees to determine the value of risk levels in terms of organisational security. The results can be used to decide whether a user should have full or limited access to an organization’s cloud accounts.
Furthermore, cloud users should be aware that shadow usage encompasses not only illicit access to cloud services via endpoints, but also the transfer of data from trusted environments to unmanaged devices. Data security is jeopardised by such behaviours, which jeopardise data availability, integrity, and secrecy. As a result, a data officer should be in charge of authorising data flow inside the cloud and keeping track of the data accessed from each endpoint.
Cloud Security Best Practices #8: Create a safe list
The majority of employees at a company use cloud services to achieve the company’s goals and objectives. However, a select few employees frequently exploit organisational clouds for personal advantage. Using cloud services for questionable services puts a corporation at risk of compromising the cloud’s security or facing legal wranglings over compliance difficulties. As a result, a company should create and keep a safe list of all the services that employees can access via their cloud accounts. Enforcing the list and making sure personnel are aware of it helps to avoid problems caused by compliance penalties or unsafe behaviours.
In any event, creating a secure list allows a company to determine which data each employee has access to. It also ensures that an employee is aware of the data that can be processed in the cloud. Because all users are aware of the data they can use or share through cloud platforms, creating such awareness leads to successful data management. A safe list, on the other hand, supplies all cloud users with a list of applications that they can use in the cloud. Finally, a safe list lays forth the security best practises to follow while working with cloud data or applications.
Cloud Security Best Practices #9: Trust users, but verify
Additional verification methods should be implemented by cloud users to support other security standards such as password protection. Verification techniques safeguard a cloud environment from malicious operations carried out by malicious users impersonating legal users. The usage of two-factor or multi-factor authentication is an effective verification mechanism. Cloud users must give extra verification that they have permitted access to cloud data as part of the authentication processes. A code delivered to a trusted mobile number or the answer to a security question only the user knows are examples of such products. As a result, the cloud security posture is strengthened.
A corporation must guarantee that authenticated users have the authority to access and interact with cloud data in addition to the various authentication processes. Even if an employee passes a background check, he may not have authority to access certain types of data or cloud apps. Several access controls, such as least privilege access and role-based access, can be utilised. To avoid the hazards of illegal access, organisations should control data access. Investigations into attempted unauthorised access should be undertaken by tracking the endpoint used in the intrusion.
Cloud Security Best Practices #10: Regulatory compliance boosts security
A cloud user has a responsibility to ensure that information security requirements are followed to the letter. Despite the fact that many businesses follow compliance regulations to avoid paying fines for non-compliance, the security requirements recommended by various standards improve security. As a result, following the guidelines is a good way to deal with security concerns. More importantly, businesses must be aware that cloud provider compliance regulations differ from consumer compliance regulations. As a result, businesses shouldn’t ignore recommended security policies in the mistaken belief that cloud providers have already done so.
Furthermore, despite the business processes being moved to the cloud, outsourcing compliance duties is not encouraged. Finding a cloud provider with a compliance-friendly platform is also a bonus for cloud security. This enables a company to fully comply with requirements such as HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI DSS. Understanding the various facets of compliance can help a corporation achieve maximum security. Finally, automating compliance might help you avoid the headaches of keeping track of new or updated compliances. Automating compliance processes ensures that a cloud user stays on top of all regulations, ensuring that all security concerns are addressed. Various organisations create automated compliance software systems to fulfil a wide range of organisational requirements. All of the above actions can help cloud users achieve optimum security.