No business is completely safe from cyberattacks, as evidenced by the increasing number of organizations succumbing to their effects each year. Cloud data breaches remain among the most dangerous of all attacks, because most companies do not possess the know-how needed to protect themselves and their data. The unfortunate truth is that any business can become a target for would-be attackers, regardless of size or industry.
Cloud data breaches occur when an unauthorized user gains access to the information you have stored in the cloud—highly sensitive, confidential, or otherwise. However, outside hackers aren’t to blame for all data breaches. Malicious insiders can compromise your organization’s data and use it to hurt the company. In some cases, regular employees can unwittingly open up access to your data to unauthorized persons. Even non-human entities like point of sale (POS) systems and internet of things (IoT) devices can leave your company vulnerable to breaches.
To fully protect your organization and its data against breaches in the cloud, you need to build a comprehensive strategy that addresses all potential vulnerabilities. Here are a few steps you should take to prevent or contain cloud data breaches at your organization:
1. Raise awareness about data breaches.
Given how likely it is that your own team members will unknowingly cause a data breach, it is vital to make awareness and education the cornerstones of your strategy. Unfortunately, there is no software you can deploy to protect your organization against data breaches, so getting your team on the same page will be vital.
To this end, you should begin hosting training workshops as early in the cloud adoption process as possible. These will be instrumental in teaching your staff about security threats they’ll face in the cloud. Make sure to cover all types of data breaches, such as phishing schemes and exfiltration. With this knowledge, they’ll be more alert to potential threats and better prepared to avoid them.
No data breach training would be complete without workshops on the preventative measures your staff can take to mitigate threats. Frequent, ongoing training will keep this information fresh in your team’s minds and make it less likely they’ll be the cause of a cloud data breach.
2. Encrypt your data.
Security tools can help bolster your organization against attacks. Encryption is, perhaps, the most widely used, since it’s accessible to businesses of all sizes. When you encrypt data, you essentially make it unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have the required keys. Should a data breach transpire, hackers and other unauthorized users won’t be able to make sense of your data or use it toward any nefarious ends. Make sure any data you move to the cloud is encrypted both at rest and in transit. Attackers can target your data regardless of location, so protecting it from all angles is a necessity.
3. Minimize the sensitive information you store in the cloud.
Not every piece of information is fit for the cloud. When migrating your resources onto cloud servers, determine whether it will be safe to store certain files in this infrastructure Information pertaining to customer payments, proprietary company technology, and other highly sensitive matters would benefit from remaining in-house where you have greater control over it.
If the cloud is your only option, employ redaction techniques to omit the most important information from those records. This can be difficult to get right, however. High-profile companies have come under fire for using automated redaction tools that left whole swaths of customer information susceptible during data breaches. Limit what you move to the cloud when you can, and employ sophisticated redaction strategies when you do migrate.
4. Call on experts.
Cloud security isn’t easy to achieve, especially when you are looking to mitigate the risk of a data breach. You should consider enlisting the help of an IT specialist to help you build a robust cybersecurity strategy. An expert will devise best practices to keep your information secure, providing the foundation your team will need to protect data down the line. They’ll also help you address potential security risks and make the improvements needed to safeguard your organization against breaches.
5. Devise a data breach response plan.
Even the most sophisticated mitigation plan won’t fully protect your organization from a data breach in the cloud. In preparing for the worst, you will need to come up with a response plan that will help you recover from a breach once it’s happened.
Your breach response plan should address several pressing needs. First, minimize the effects of the breach by isolating it from the remainder of your system. Second, make notations about the breach and subsequent response. Third, stabilize your organization and resume regular operations. Fourth, ensure communication between all parties involved in breach recovery efforts. You will need to designate employees who will spearhead each of these operations. From third-party legal counsel to executives to in-house IT personnel, these individuals will help guide you through an incident and determine its effects. Having an incident response plan will be vital to minimizing damage and protecting your organization in the future.