A Look at the Best Practices for Cloud App Security

A Look at the Best Practices for Cloud App Security

Cloud adoption has grown exponentially in recent years. With 94 percent of organizations now using some form of the cloud, effective security has never been more important.

Many organizations leverage the cloud to access the web-based applications they need to conduct business. When using the software as a service (SaaS) model, organizations must ensure they are protecting the applications they use and the data contained within them. Read on to learn about a few of the best practices for improving the security of your organization’s cloud apps.

Get a view of your entire app environment

Most organizations believe they are running only a few dozen apps in the cloud, when they typically run hundreds at one time. Using the cloud without understanding the full scope of your app environment leaves the majority of these applications unprotected and vulnerable to security threats.

Your first step in taking control of app security should involve a thorough review of your organization’s cloud apps. Start with those that your employees use most often, such as collaboration platforms and social media, for example. Then, delve deeper and look at those under the category of “shadow IT.” In many cases, you may find that employees are using apps that your organization hasn’t approved and that IT isn’t monitoring. In doing so, these users can put your company at great risk and even undermine your regulatory compliance.

It’s also important to look at apps based on their location. You may have some cloud apps running on premises or from remote locations. Some employees may use them on mobile devices. The more thoroughly you examine your entire cloud app landscape, the more prepared you’ll be to mitigate security risks.

Monitor cloud login activity

Monitoring is one of the best ways to improve the security of your cloud apps. To this end, you should regularly look at the login activity for each of the apps your organization uses. Who is accessing your apps? Where are they located? When did they log in? What are they doing in each app? Getting the answers to these questions will help you ensure that only authorized users are gaining access to your cloud apps.

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If your analysis finds that rogue users are logging in to your apps, you can leverage tools to discover their location and the devices they used for access. These tools automatically log this information, so you’ll be able to address potential threats before they cause harm to your organization. More importantly, monitoring app login activity can safeguard you from compliance problems and the legal repercussions that can arise from noncompliance.

Encrypt everything

You have numerous tools in your arsenal to protect your organization’s cloud apps. Encryption is one of the most essential to employ—it’s vital for strong app security.

It is easiest to encrypt data while it is at rest, or when you are not in the process of moving it between devices or networks. Apps at rest are in their least vulnerable state, which makes encryption less challenging. Data in motion or in flight is trickier to encrypt. Not only is it more expensive, but it can also hinder performance in some cases. However, encrypting data in motion is absolutely crucial, because the data is most susceptible to attack or theft during this stage.

Determine what users are exporting

In the cloud, users can export reports from apps that could potentially contain sensitive information about your clients, leads, and finances. Without the right protections in place, exporting these reports can be easy. This can leave your organization open to data breaches and theft. In some cases, disgruntled employees may export reports containing vital information before leaving your company.

Monitoring for the types of reports that users are exporting is crucial to protecting your apps and your data. With a close eye on exports, your organization can determine which users are exporting information when they should not be doing so, and stop them before a more serious data breach ensues. When a user’s credentials have been compromised, you can remove their account from the system and cut off the parties that have been using the account to access sensitive information. 

Leverage strong authentication tools

You must leverage robust authentication tools to manage access to your cloud apps. Two-factor authentication, single-use passwords, and single sign-ons can help you ensure that each user is accessing their account safely.

Authentication tools also help you mitigate the risk of external hackers gaining access to your cloud apps. This is especially crucial if your employees regularly access their accounts on different devices and use potentially untrustworthy connections such as public WiFi networks.

Monitor for vulnerabilities

It’s more common than you may think for cloud applications to have vulnerabilities that go unnoticed, sometimes for months at a time. Without the proper monitoring protocols in place, you’re leaving your apps susceptible to threats.

Thankfully, it’s not difficult to rectify these shortcomings. You can implement monitoring policies to keep your apps under close watch at all times. Pairing these policies with remediation tools will also help you address any potential vulnerabilities quickly. You can additionally automate the entire process to reduce app security threats even as your platforms undergo regular updates.