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The Fundamentals of Securing The Cloud

Stephanie Gray
September 5, 2019
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Cloud computing has become commonplace in business. It allows organisations to improve operations, deliver on customer expectations and enable more flexible working for their employees. However, while the cloud offers incredible business opportunities, in terms of flexibility, accessibility, and productivity, it also comes with an increased risk. Shared resources, shared data, and multiple access points create significant potential for data breaches. As the frequency and sophistication of threats rise, cloud security is critical.

THE RISKS OF WORKING IN THE CLOUD

As businesses share and store their digital assets in the cloud, they are making those assets more accessible both to their employees and partners, but also to cybercriminals. With such a huge volume of sensitive data being stored in the cloud environment, once a threat actor gains access, they are able to do a significant amount of damage. What’s more, as there is such a lot at stake, cybercriminals have increased the sophistication of their efforts.

Malicious actors are leveraging the characteristics of cloud environments to launch and hide their data breaches. Cloud environments create new attack surfaces that weren’t available with on-premises solutions, and attacks follow a different progression. Breaches often start with cybercriminals impersonating trusted users and, once inside the cloud environment, they can easily go unnoticed. This drastically increases the amount of damage they cause.

WHY CLOUD SECURITY IS IMPORTANT

Cloud security is vital if organisations are to avoid the financial and reputational implications of security breaches. However, cloud security covers more than just security breaches. It governs the way that organisations protect their data and ensures that it is accessible to authorised users when they need it. On top of this, there are a considerable amount of regulations surrounding data best practice, and these need to be adhered to within the cloud environment.

Cloud security is the only way to ensure vulnerability is minimised; ways of working are optimised in a sustainable way and impact is reduced in the event of an attack.

HOW TO ACHIEVE CLOUD SECURITY

While cloud computing isn’t new, achieving security can still be a challenge for many businesses. Legacy security solutions are no longer enough to protect against new threat vectors. Investment is needed in different tools and technologies as well as implementing new processes to ensure security is embedded throughout the business.

Fortunately, there are solutions available that can help to protect businesses against the security risk of operating in the cloud:

  • Cloud Access Security Broker – while every company has IT-approved apps, there will also be unsanctioned apps being used by employees to facilitate their work. Unsanctioned cloud apps often won’t meet security requirements, which represents a substantial risk when they are used to share sensitive data. Businesses need to implement tools to gain full visibility of all the cloud platforms that are being used, identify high-risk applications and block access where appropriate.
  • Web Security Services – as devices, data and applications move out of the physical constraints of the office environment, businesses need to find a way to manage them. Legacy security solutions aren’t able to keep up with the volume and variety of threats. Cloud-based security solutions can help to secure everyone within the business and every piece of data they use, regardless of where it is being used.
  • Data Loss Prevention – allowing greater access to digital files and sensitive data from more endpoints increases the volume of threat vectors and risk of attack. It is easy for employees to unintentionally expose sensitive information. Knowing where company data is and how it is being used is vital to prevent data loss.
  • Cloud Authentication and Identity – with a rise in the volume of web-applications, users are prone to relying on the same passwords, putting their data at an increased risk. Single-factor authentication isn’t enough to ensure accounts are secure. To take away the pressure of password management, cloud authentication and identity services use multi-factor authentication to remove human error and ensure added security.
  • SaaS Application Backup – the level of protection offered by cloud-based applications is often not sufficient. Businesses should be aware of their responsibilities for backing up data, if they want to stay up and running. Implementing an additional cloud-based backup service ensures continual access as well as unlimited storage.
  • Secure Office 365 – many businesses have made the transition to the cloud with the help of Microsoft Office 365. While the platform provides tools and applications to facilitate sharing and collaboration, it doesn’t come with fully comprehensive security measures. Implementing a multi-layered approach is the only way businesses can ensure they can detect compromised accounts, retrieve data and comply with regulations.

By adopting the right blend of security tools and technologies, businesses can ensure that they get the most from their cloud applications while minimising the risks.

To find out more about how you can secure your cloud environment, download our Ultimate Guide to Cloud Security here or sign up for our free cloud security workshop.