Security is a legitimate issue when considering how you approach your cloud usage. While the major cloud computing service providers are all constantly updating their security protocols and protections, the vast amount of data use happening across the cloud makes them a tempting target for all manner of bad actors.
Best password practices and identity management
The simplest way to add a measure of security to your cloud computing is by starting with proper password protocols. The most common and effective method for blocking unauthorized access is with two-step authentication in which a user can only access the cloud after successfully entering both a password and an additional verifier such as a randomly presented code or secret question that only the user would know the answer to.
Sometimes an employee, through carelessness or even animosity, will share their login information with another and put your company in serious danger. To minimize this occurrence, conduct regular audits of what employees are listed as having authorized access. Furthermore, be sure to update those lists on a regular basis, deleting those accounts that should no longer be active. Also, require regular, non-repeating password changes. If your cloud service allows for administrative oversight, take note of any unusual activity, particularly during non-business hours.
Encryption and firewalls
While most cloud service providers already employ encryption in their process, you can add another level of security by utilizing encryption on your end when uploading and accessing your cloud. There are a number of commercially available encryption tools that are easy to install and maintain. If you’re dealing with information transfers that fall under regulatory compliance requirements (such as HIPAA for the healthcare industry, PCI-DSS for financial institutions, and FISMA for US federal agencies), encryption use is absolutely required.
It is also a good idea to put in place robust firewall protection between your users and your cloud connection to make sure that only authorized connections are making their way through your network to the cloud. In additional to physical firewall hardware, you can install a virtual firewall, also called a Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS), to control access and employ URL filtering, malware detection, and network forensics.
When selecting a cloud service provider, be sure to ask the following questions:
- Do they monitor overall usage for suspicious activity or data?
- What security measures they have already in place?
- What they’re working on to improve?
- Are there tools they can provide you with to further enhance your security?
It should also include administrative controls over user access. Consult reviews of a cloud computing provider’s service for reliability and reputation for security. While no system is perfect, some are certainly better than others.
No one expects you to be an expert on all of the various options in cloud computing, so don’t hesitate to consult with others such as members of your IT team or with a managed service contractor. They’re more likely to be current on cloud technology news and their opinions could be a useful factor in your decision-making process.
Cloud security begins at home
While cloud computing service providers do their part when it comes to maintaining cloud security, you can do yours by making sure you’re employing all of the best practices available. Most security options are relatively simple and inexpensive, particularly when compared with the trouble and expense of a data breach.
As with most things, common sense and effective precautions can go a long way in keeping you secure.