Cloud Security: Top 8 Best Practices to Follow in 2022
Security has been a major concern among enterprises right from the time cloud computing came into action. Though business owners wish to empower their infrastructure with cloud-enabled tools, malicious activities affecting the environment act as a hindrance. The idea of storing data or running applications on infrastructure that cannot be managed directly casts security doubts for most enterprises.
According to IDC’s 2021 State of Cloud Security Report, 79% of surveyed companies reported a cloud data breach in the last 18 months.1 As businesses are driving more toward digital transformation journey, they need the right path to transition to the cloud. This accentuates the need for the best security practices to help modern enterprises benefit from cloud technologies.
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In this article, iLink brings you a deeper understanding of cloud security, its importance, and the best practices for your organization to create a secure cloud environment. Let’s begin:
What is Cloud Security?
Cloud security refers to technologies, protocols, and services that are dedicated to securing cloud computing systems including cloud data, applications, and infrastructure from threats. It is a discipline of cybersecurity, focused on keeping cloud components safe and private. Though it seems similar to protecting your IT legacy systems, cloud framework requires a whole new approach.
Knowing where to begin your cloud security journey makes all the difference. But, what’s more, important is understanding why your business needs cloud security in the first place.
Why Cloud Security is essential for your business?
Let’s take a look at the core of your business strategy – it’s your customers. They trust you with their private data and how you plan to use it. Since your business relies on their trust, cloud security methods are important to keep your customer data protected and safely stored. Another reason is the increase in the number of high-profile hacking cases.
If we look at the statistics, 92% of organizations are currently hosting at least some of their IT environment in the cloud. This means that the majority of all businesses today have experienced a breach. Top reasons being, misconfiguration of cloud platforms (71 percent), exfiltration of sensitive data (59 percent), and insecure APIs (54 percent) as per CloudPassage’s 2021 AWS Cloud Security Report.2 Gartner identifies misconfiguration as the main reason behind data breaches.3
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Part of the problem is that companies have rushed themselves to adopt cloud technology due to the covid-19 pandemic. The desperation to facilitate remote working setup for employees has resulted in security scrambles for most organizations. Lack of proper guidance led them to use tools and applications that weren’t purpose-built for the cloud.
These applications were less capable of scaling securely to meet the demands of the cloud environment. In fact, only 46% of organizations use cloud-based applications purpose-built for the cloud.4 Thus to thrive in the highly volatile digital world, businesses must follow these 8 best practices for cloud security.
Top 8 best practices for Cloud Security in 2022
- Partner with a trusted Cloud Provider
When they said, “Trust is the foundation for any relationship”, they also meant the relationship with your cloud provider. No matter how dramatic this sounds, choosing a trusted cloud provider who delivers the best-in-class security service with the highest levels of industry practice is an arduous task.
You can start by evaluating the range of security compliance they offer and the certifications they hold. Look at how they support your unique business characteristics and demonstrate adherence to industry best practices. Other criteria are service roadmaps, reliability, performance, migration support, vendor lock, and exit planning.
At the very least, the vendor should guarantee 24/7 data and network availability. A mark of trusted provider is who extends a marketplace of partners and solutions to provide you enhanced security.
- Share the responsibility model
Did you know that the overwhelming majority of cloud data breaches are due to customer error rather than vendor error? Gartner predicts that through 2025, 99% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.5 Hence all partitioners must understand and share the responsibility of security implementation before moving data to the cloud.
A critical part of this practice is knowing where the cloud provider’s security tasks end and yours begin. This division of responsibilities depends upon the type of service model you opt i.e. Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), or in an on-premises datacenter.
Some of the leading cloud service providers like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Alibaba Cloud publish a shared responsibility model for security to ensure transparency and clarity. Organizations looking to enter a partnership with a cloud provider must review their policies about the shared responsibility.
They should understand the various security aspects involved and if it’s equally shared between the partitioners. This not only prevents miscommunications but also avoids security incidents that might occur as a result of security need falling through the cracks.
- Educate and train your staff
Well-trained staff members are the best tools and your first line of defense in fighting against security breaches. Their knowledge of security practices can be a huge asset in protecting your systems and applications. Besides, when security is a top concern, it’s the responsibility of the entire staff including non-experts to protect the enterprise and its data.
This way, the technical and business users alike can easily identify suspicious behavior, spot malware, detect phishing emails and save the organization from cyberattack risks. Comprehensive education with a combination of onsite and online training helps them understand the inherent risk of shadow IT and prevent hackers from getting access to cloud computing tools.
Enterprises need to hammer on the potential consequences of losing top-to-bottom visibility of all systems interacting with the company’s data. Business leaders can also organize periodical webinars and conferences to keep their staff abreast of ever-changing security threats. Overlooking this critical step can fail the entire cloud adoption strategy.
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- Deploy User Access Control
Unauthorized access is one of the biggest threats to cloud security. A new Cloud Security Spotlight Report found that 53% of organizations surveyed see unauthorized access through misuse of employee credentials and improper access controls as the single biggest threat to cloud security. And, 96% of organizations surveyed have some or all of their applications in the cloud.6
While hacking methods become more sophisticated, implementing a high-quality identity and access management (IAM) solution is another security practice to mitigate these threats. It captures, records, and manages user identity and permissions before granting them access to the systems and data. All users must be authenticated, authorized, and evaluated as per the access policies set by your organization.
To avoid the complexity, these policies must be based on role-based permission capabilities to allow access only to chosen resources. Furthermore, you can implement multi-factor authentication to reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
- Implement strong password security policies
Another best practice to prevent unauthorized access is enforcing strong password policies. Employees often use the same passwords over different platforms that are easy to remember which ironically is the most efficient way for hackers to attack. Hence, creating and maintaining strong passwords is one of the most effective ways to prevent data thefts.
A few of the aspects that need to be considered are password length, complexity, expiration, and strength. A minimum requirement is that all passwords should have one upper-case letter, one lower-case letter, one number, one symbol, and a minimum of 14 characters.
Users must update their passwords after every 90 days and set them in such a way that the system keeps track of the last 24 passwords updated. A stringent password policy restricts your employees from creating simple, easy to crack passwords across multiple devices. This way you can defend your organization from brute force attacks.
- Secure your endpoints
In the quest of securing the cloud, one key practice often left out is the need for strong endpoint security. A majority of users will access your cloud services from unmanaged systems in untrusted locations using arbitrary web browsers. Trends such as remote working, bring-your-own-device (BYOD), and the rapid explosion of mobile devices lead the user to increasingly access cloud service through devices not owned and approved by the company.
It’s therefore critical to implement endpoint security to protect your end-user devices from exploits. You can start by revisiting the existing strategies, ensuring centralized control, visibility, and monitoring across the cloud. Complex cloud security requires Endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools and/or endpoint protection platforms (EPP).
These tools combine the traditional endpoint security capabilities with continuous monitoring and automated response, addressing several security requirements including patch management, endpoint encryption, and other insider threats. This allows organizations to control attacks and prevent unauthorized data access.
- Implement Cloud Encryption
Another key element of cloud security best practice is encryption. It is one of the primary defenses organizations can take to secure their data, intellectual property (IP), and other sensitive information, regardless of location. Organisation uses encryption to protect data as it moves within the cloud applications and while it is stored on the cloud network.
Encryption leverages algorithms to encode them, making it meaningful for the authorized users only. The key to decoding the data and transforming the concealed information back to a readable format is shared among the trusted parties whose identity is verified through multi-factor authentication.
You can either consider using your own encryption solutions to maintain full control or use encryption products that work seamlessly with the existing processes. Though cloud provider offers build-in encryption services it affords you allow them access to your encryption keys.
- Consider CASB vendor
Organizations are increasingly turning to Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) to address their cloud services risks. CASB can be defined as purpose-built tools that provide visibility into your cloud ecosystem, enforce data security policies, implement threat identification, protection, and maintain compliance.
CASB solutions are best recommended for organizations using multiple cloud computing services from several different vendors, as it monitors unauthorized apps and access. It ensures that the network traffic between on-premises devices and the cloud provider complies with your organization’s security policies. It acts like a sheriff that enforces the laws to extend security controls into the cloud.
CASBs allow you to govern usage, prevent loss of sensitive data and guard against cloud-based threats. Though these threats will continue to innovate, CASB vendors will do too to provide you the services that best fit your requirements, now and in the future.
iLink is committed to Cloud Security
iLink has almost 20 years of experience in providing comprehensive threat protection. We help our clients build, shape, and operate their businesses in the cloud while protecting their assets from day one. Though security is often seen as the biggest stagnation to the cloud-first strategy, with the right security guidance it can be the greatest accelerator. Get in touch with experts for more details.