Concerns about the security of the cloud won’t go away any time soon. With recent publications like the Cloud Security Alliance’s Top Threats to Cloud Computing report highlighting the risks of cloud use, cloud security (or the lack thereof) remains a major concern for adopters at all levels. According to Nominet, more than half of technology and intelligence executives have shared their own worries about cloud security. These concerns have prompted over 90 percent of organizations to implement new security solutions for their cloud environments.
Your organization should also make cloud security a priority, whether you’re about to embark on the adoption process or have already been actively using the cloud. Here are a few best practices that you should follow when looking to improve the security of your cloud computing environment:
In a recent survey from MobileIron and IDG, cloud users discussed their difficulties surrounding the use of standard passwords. A staggering 90 percent of respondents said that stolen credentials had led unauthorized users to attempt to access their user accounts. Since the advent of the cloud, the issue of lost credentials has become an even bigger issue for adopters. As such, an increasing number of organizations are foregoing passwords entirely in an attempt to improve their cloud security.
Not only does eliminating passwords minimize the risk of users (authorized or otherwise) abusing credentials, but it also makes it less likely that users will leverage unauthorized devices to connect to your cloud services. Multi-factor authentication is an effective alternative to passwords that will keep your cloud environment more secure.
Tackling Human Error
Unfortunately, the majority of data breaches don’t have a malicious attacker to blame. In most cases, security problems arise when a user makes some kind of error that leaves your cloud environment vulnerable. However, there are steps that you can take to mitigate human error and enhance cloud security.
Start by overhauling your credentials using what’s known as the “principle of least privilege.” Also known as role-based access, this solution will ensure that users won’t have access to any information that they don’t need for their specific roles. As such, the risk of human error compromising your sensitive data will be dramatically reduced.
Over time, you should keep a close eye on your users by monitoring their various activities in the cloud. This will enable you to pinpoint any irregularities in their cloud use and mitigate potential threats before they occur.
Encrypting Critical Information
User access controls won’t always be sufficient to protect your data in the cloud. Most organizations leverage encryption services to incorporate additional safeguards. Encryption keeps your data safe both in motion and at rest by preventing those without proper authorization from unencrypting your files. Should a would-be attacker attempt to compromise your encrypted files, you will have more time to address the threat before it leads to irreversible harm. What’s more, encryption is a great way to ensure compliance with security protocols set forth by FISMA, HIPAA, and other regulations.
Implementing a Zero-Trust Policy
The use of mobile technology in the workplace has all but eliminated the traditional network perimeter. In the past, security was fairly simple for organizations that only had to worry about their on-premises devices and servers. Now, cloud users must evolve their security protocols to safeguard information that flows freely across devices that exist outside of this framework. Many cloud users are adopting “zero-trust” policies to secure network access in their cloud environments.
Zero-trust requires verification for every device in the cloud network. All applications on those devices must be authorized, and the network itself must undergo a verification process. Most importantly, each user must provide a context for the use of the cloud services that he or she is looking to access. Only by verifying each of these points are users then permitted access to the cloud environment.
Putting DevOps under Lock and Key
Like many organizations, your company may be looking to use the cloud to fuel DevOps activities. This type of environment requires its own set of security protocols to ensure that all of your cloud resources will remain protected against threats. For instance, you should require anyone who is seeking to access your DevOps environment to go through a multi-factor authentication process first. If certain projects are only short-term, then you should only authorize access to relevant cloud resources for that period of time. Keeping a tight leash on your DevOps tools will protect them from prying eyes and other threats to your organization’s security.
Offboarding Your Employees
Sometimes, organizations face data beaches after forgetting to relinquish access from employees who no longer work for the company. According to Osterman Research, as many as one in five employees will compromise their employers’ data before their last day on the job. In order to minimize the risk of this happening to your own organization, you should implement a centralized user management system. This will make deprovisioning a central part of the offboarding process and ensure that former employees won’t have access to your sensitive cloud information.