Cybersecurity April 18, 2024

Is Your Cloud Secure? 3 Questions to Ask Before a Data Breach

Written by Analytix Editorial Team Analytix Marketing

With data and applications available from anywhere worldwide, as long as you have internet access and credentials, there’s no question that cloud environments have their convenience. With such ease of access, however, comes hidden cloud security risks. So, how do you prevent a cloud data breach? It starts with the right questions: What data are you storing? How secure is your access control? Do you have a data backup and recovery plan?

The Rise of Cloud Adoption and Security Concerns

While cloud computing has been around since the late 1990s, it really picked up steam in the late 2000s, when Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google, IBM, and OpenStack launched their cloud services — causing adoption to skyrocket over the next two decades. For instance, the adoption rate for cloud amongst businesses in 2010 was 0.3% and 7% by 2016. Fast forward to today, and we’re at a 94% cloud adoption rate.

Why so popular? Think about it. Rather than handling costly and complex system setup and maintenance (as you would in an on-premise environment) yourself, a cloud service provider takes care of all the leg work. It’s less expensive and super scalable in that you can add more storage space as your business grows seamlessly. Cloud also provides employees easy accessibility to IT resources — letting them do so remotely from anywhere in the world.

With such popularity, however, comes the growing concern about cloud data security. Just one breach into a company’s private cloud or a cloud provider’s servers puts everything stored at risk: data, applications, and entire companies — making it super appealing to cybercriminals. And the cost of a data breach is not cheap. Between incident response, recovery, and reputational damage, a data breach now costs an average of $4.45 million.

Shifting Responsibility: Shared Security Model

At the core of cloud security is the “Shared Security Model.” Because two parties are involved, the provider hosting the environment and the client storing IT resources, each is responsible for protecting the cloud ecosystem. The cloud provider must adopt measures to protect the overlying infrastructure and use physical controls to safeguard the data center hosting the servers.

Meanwhile, securing the data and applications and maintaining user access controls lies on you, the client. In terms of how to protect your cloud data from a breach, it’s all about proactiveness: Encryption, regular audits to find potential security gaps, least-privilege settings, and strict access controls for user accounts are all excellent cloud security best practices for businesses.

3 Critical Questions to Ask About Your Cloud Security

Data breach prevention in the cloud starts with identifying what you have already. Here are the right questions to ask about cloud security:

Question 1: What Data Are You Storing in the Cloud?

Not all data is equal. A list of customer banking information, for example, is far more sensitive and under stricter compliance guidelines than, say, a marketing report. This is why data classification for cloud storage and identifying sensitive information play a huge role in security. What are you storing in the cloud? Should you add extra layers for protection? Is it sensitive enough that you should store it elsewhere?

Data minimization is a great practice for cloud security. Decide which apps and data are most commonly used and demand easy access by your users, then only store those resources in the cloud. Why? To reduce the cyber attack surface, an adversary can use and limit the impact of a successful breach.

Question 2: How Secure is Your Access Control?

Because anyone can get into a cloud account with internet and login credentials, access control in your cloud environment becomes your primary line of defense. In addition to robust passwords, contextual authentication should be adopted that permits only verified users to access information and perform specific actions based on their permission settings, privileges, company role, seniority, and location.

Suppose an adversary gets a user’s credentials and gains unauthorized account access. In that case, you can use additional layers such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) and data encryption to protect your cloud resources further.

Question 3: Do You Have a Data Backup and Recovery Plan?

So, you fell victim to a cyber incident. Now it’s time to show resilience with your cloud data backup and recovery plan. The data backup plan ensures your business can return to normal operations by having duplicated data and applications ready to deploy in a separate location — perhaps another cloud or on-premise environment. In the event of a breach or other technical issue, backup plans are vital to preventing permanent data loss.

Separately, you should have disaster recovery plans with step-by-step strategies for minimizing downtime and restoring your brand image during a cloud breach. Why? It ensures business continuity and reduces any reputational harm, ultimately keeping you financially sound.

Taking Action: Additional Security Tips

A secure cloud demands a comprehensive approach with additional layers. Here are some other cloud security tips for businesses to protect your data:

  • Stay on top of security updates: Providers often identify and patch security vulnerabilities in their cloud systems. Keep up-to-date on these updates to stay ahead of adversaries.
  • Encrypt your data: Even if a cybercriminal gets cloud access, it doesn’t mean they can cause damage. Encrypting your data at rest and in transit makes it unreadable in a cloud environment — and ultimately useless to an adversary if they manage to access a specific file or app.
  • Keep employees educated: Many cyber attacks today are sourced from phishing — cloud account credentials submitted to a hacker who appeared to be a legitimate email sender. Provide ongoing security awareness training so your employees know exactly what to look out for and avoid in their inboxes.

Secure Your Cloud Storage with Analytix

Proactive security through data minimization, granular access control, encryption, and backup planning will help you stay ahead of emerging cloud security threats and keep your data protected. Use cloud security checklists and guidance such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to help plan your program. You can also contact our security experts to help assess your cloud security and find ways to protect your cloud data.

Learn more about our comprehensive Managed IT and Cloud Solutions by visiting our website. Or contact us today to see how you can get started on making sure your cloud is secure.

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