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Cloud Security: How to Take It Seriously

Whether you are a home user storing personal files in the cloud or a business owner with solutions running in cloud environments, cloud security is more important than ever. The risk of your data being targeted by cyber attackers is higher than ever; you cannot think that your data is not valuable enough either, because all data has value.

Cloud security is something that needs to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, many users and businesses still don’t take the necessary steps to secure their data in the cloud. In this article, we are going to go over some of the best cloud security tips that you can implement immediately, particularly if you want to secure business data. Let’s get started!

Tip #1: Keep a Detailed Access Log

Every cloud environment has a way of monitoring access to files and other cloud resources. Even Google Drive lets you check logs for changes, uploads, and other activities. Getting used to monitoring these logs is a must if you want to secure files in the cloud.

The same is true for other resources such as databases and computing units. Logs will help you identify anomalies and potential issues early. To take it a step further, use tools like Amazon GuardDuty to define patterns and do constant monitoring on your cloud activities.

Adding a monitoring tool to help review access logs is a great way to automate early warning. The next time unauthorized access is detected, you will receive an email alert – or an alert of your choice – and you can take corrective actions much more quickly.

Tip #2: Have Redundancies

Having one cloud environment storing all of your data is not the way to go, especially with attacks like DDoS and hijacking becoming more common. You have to have redundancies so that you can recover your data quickly in the event of a disaster.

If your budget allows, setting up a separate cloud environment and mirroring everything is recommended. You will have two cloud environments running simultaneously, but you can switch from one to another in the event of a catastrophic failure.

You can also maintain an offline backup. In fact, cloud service providers like Amazon and Google now let you manage on-premise and cloud services from a single dashboard, creating a unified environment for hosting your data.

Tip #3: Get Informed

Before moving any further, it is also a good idea to learn more about cloud security and the cyberattacks happening on the World Wide Web. For example, you can find out about potential attacks to WordPress instances by subscribing to the newsletter from Wordfence.

Cloud security is an essential part of every cloud environment, so much so that students who are studying for their online masters in data science, engineering, computer science, and other technology majors now have classes on security and ethical hacking specifically.

You also have courses and online resource centers to turn to if you want to know how to protect your cloud environment better. Shorter courses are great for covering the basics and specific subjects, while cybersecurity forums and online communities can help you stay on top of things.

Tip #4: Control Who Has Access

According to the latest report from Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 threat research team, more than 50% of attacks to cloud environments happened because many parts of the environment were accessible publicly. In fact, mismanagement of cloud access is the root cause of the most severe attacks.

We’re used to taking access management lightly. When was the last time you set the access permission of a file in your Google Drive to “Anyone with a Link”? Exactly. Rather than going through the trouble of inviting only those who need access, we tend to give public access unnecessarily.

In cloud environments, this needs to be avoided. Least-required access management is the principle you want to stick with when managing access to cloud resources. A regular audit of access given to users is a must too.

Tip #5: Add Encryption

Encrypting files and data stored in the cloud is not just an extra layer of protection; it is more a necessity rather than an option. Before data is uploaded to the cloud, make sure they are encrypted using a private encryption key.

The cloud storage buckets themselves can be encrypted; you have your files encrypted twice at this stage, making it virtually impossible for unauthorized parties to access them even if they can get to the files and download them. You will significantly reduce the risk of breaches and leaks.

Encryption is also a lot more convenient. In the old days, adding encryption to storage loops reduced performance of the cloud storage buckets. Now, encryption happens on the fly and you only need to set it up once to secure all of your data.

Tip #6: Use Multi-Factor Authentication

It is never okay to settle for one authentication method, especially when that authentication method is a password. We still rely on weak passwords – even if you don’t, your users might – and attackers are getting very good at guessing and cracking them.

Security questions? Those are no good either. Have you ever mentioned the name of your first pet on social media? Don’t you think attackers can get to them rather easily? A backup email address and an alternative recovery method are still needed.

As for authentication, 2FA is the bare minimum. Multi-factor authentication, just like encryption, is easier to integrate. You can confirm access using two or more methods for maximum security, plus it allows you to tie access to a particular device that you always have with you.

Tip #7: Not a One-Time Thing

Last, but certainly not least, always treat cloud security as an ongoing battle; it is certainly not a one-time thing. There are new attacks being launched and new security holes exploited. You don’t want to feel satisfied with just the security measures that you have implemented.

Fortunately, that brings us back to our first tip: you have detailed access logs to help you monitor everything. When combined, these tips will help you safeguard the information you store in the cloud, whether it is personal photos or business reports.