Top 5 cloud security best practices

The cloud has grown into a business imperative that enables remote working, improved collaborations, and enhanced user experiences. However, to make the most of cloud technologies, businesses must be able to ensure cloud security.

Enterprises considering public cloud adoption often have security concerns. For the most part, these insecurities stem from the idea of storing data and running their infrastructure externally. However, these concerns are unfounded as organizations actually have fewer security issues with cloud-based workloads than workloads running on traditional on-premises data centers.

According to Palo Alto Networks' The State of Cloud-Native Security Report 2022, perceptions are changing, and organizations are changing how they address cloud security. For example, there are differences in how they implement both processes and technologies that support a robust cloud security posture.

The Palo Alto Networks report also states that companies expanded cloud use by more than 25% during the pandemic. However, they struggled with technical complexity, comprehensive security, and compliance. Today, some companies still struggle to automate cloud security protocols to mitigate risk and ensure compliance.

However, cloud benefits are significant and hard to ignore. Cloud adoption continues at an accelerated pace, and companies that strive to stay out of the headlines continue to understand and implement best practices to secure their cloud infrastructure better.

What is cloud security?

Cloud security describes all the processes and technologies involved in securing enterprise cloud infrastructure against internal and external cybersecurity threats. As more and more businesses take a cloud-first approach, cloud security is now critical to business continuity.

However, it's important to note that cloud security best practices come into play long before organizations move up to the cloud.

1. Ask complex and detailed security questions

Before committing, you must ask potential managed services providers (MSPs) questions about their compliance and security measures already put in place.

Ask them about the steps they have taken to secure their cloud infrastructure. This approach can help you verify different security methods used by the provider and decide if it's adequate to keep your valuable digital assets safe.

Make sure to ask them a wide range of questions like the following:

  • Do you encrypt data?
  • What is your disaster and recovery plan?
  • What are your protocols to respond to an active security event?
  • Where is your data center's physical location(s)?
  • What authentication methods do you use?
  • How do you protect different access components?
  • Will any staff have access to my data in the cloud?
  • What are the results of your most recent penetration test?
  • What compliance requirements do you support?

Once you're satisfied with the cloud services provider's answers, you can start building a solid partnership.

2. Enforce established cloud security policies

Enterprises need to have written guidelines that dictate who gets to use specific cloud services and related data to get the job done. Your policies must also address what type of data should be stored in the cloud.

Enterprise cloud security policies must also outline specific security technologies that staff must use to protect applications and data in the cloud. In this scenario, it's important for security staff to have access to automated solutions.

This approach will help ensure that everyone in the organization adheres to established cloud security policies. For example, zero trust provides refined control over policy management protocols.

3. Encrypt data

Database encryption should be at the heart of your cloud security strategy. Enterprises must take steps to encrypt data at rest and in motion. However, this doesn't mean that you should encrypt all available data. Instead, you can encrypt sensitive data with personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets, and more.

The best approach is to go with a cloud services provider that offers encryption options. When sensitive data is encrypted by default, it negates the need for end-users to take extra steps to comply with organizational encryption policies.

4. Train staff regularly

As human error remains the leading cause of data breaches, it's vital to train staff on how to identify cybersecurity threats and the best way to respond to them. Companies must regularly engage in cybersecurity awareness workshops to create a security culture within the organization. The key here is to help staff understand the risk of shadow IT.

Even in a work-from-home environment, employees shouldn't be allowed to deploy their own tools and systems without the support of the IT department. This approach will help mitigate risk in an ecosystem where it's challenging to take stock of all potential vulnerabilities.

5. Conduct cloud security audits and penetration tests

Businesses can better understand their current security posture by conducting regular security audits. As such, organizations must engage white hat hackers to detect potential vulnerabilities missed by the in-house security team.

It will help to regularly run cloud security testing, infrastructure testing, and penetration testing exercises to ensure security, compliance, uptime, and business continuity. Whenever the results fall short of established security requirements, companies can take steps to rectify it and fortify their cloud infrastructure before threat actors exploit them.

Ensuring robust cloud security is a multi-pronged effort. Companies need the right partner, cloud security tools, and a robust cloud security strategy. They also have to train their employees regularly to mitigate the risk of a data breach.

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