In these modern times, when we talk about data, we often mention cloud computing as well. The cloud has turned into a synonym for safe data storage, and it’s not a surprise that 50% of the world’s corporate data is stored in the cloud. For most people, storing data in the cloud simply makes sense.
If you’re not familiar with the concept, make sure to first read cloud storage 101 and learn everything you need to know about it. But if you are, you need to ask yourself whether storing data in the cloud is good enough, or if protecting data in the cloud requires some additional steps.
What Is Cloud Data Protection?
Cloud data protection is a protection model for data that puts its main focus on the data which is stored, managed, and manipulated in a cloud environment. This requires a number of policies, strategies, and solutions that work together towards the same goal, which is to protect cloud data.
There are three main areas of cloud data protection you need to be aware of:
- Data protection focuses on creating backup and recovery systems and processes that ensure you never lose your data.
- Data security safeguards the stored data from external threats.
- Data privacy controls and manages data access so only the right people have access to appropriate data and files.
A lot of people who use cloud services rely solely on their cloud providers to ensure cloud data protection, and while each cloud service does come with a certain level of protection, that’s often not enough. If you want to ensure your data is always safe, you need to protect it yourself.
How to Protect Cloud Data
If you want to protect cloud data, you need to take the appropriate steps that will take your security from acceptable to unbreakable.
- Don’t forget to read the user agreement
Before you even sign up for a cloud service, make sure to read their user agreement because it will contact all the information you need to understand in what ways they plan to protect your data. You will also see how they plan to use the information you give them.
- Make encryption a priority
Encryption is one of the best and safest ways to protect any sort of data and it’s usually the first step in cloud data protection. For most businesses, the best option to go with is file-level encryption because it mitigates the risks that are associated with data loss while keeping the data safe from unauthorized use.
The way encryption works is that it scrambles your data into an unreadable format, also known as cipher text. The only way someone can read that data is if they have an encryption key, which is something you can only have if you have authorized access to the cloud resources.
You can either encrypt the data yourself or find a cloud storage provider that offers encryption services, but either way, you need to make sure encryption is a part of your data protection strategy. It doesn’t matter if you’re using private or public clouds or even hybrid clouds, your data always needs to be encrypted.
- Make the login process secure
Regardless of what other security measures you put in, if it’s easy to log into your cloud service account, none of it will matter.
First things first, you need to use strong passwords. A lot of attacks happen due to weak passwords that are easy to guess.
When creating your password, keep the following things in mind:
- Never use something that would be easy to guess such as your birthday, the name of your spouse, or the street you live on.
- Make sure to combine both uppercase and lowercase letters as well as numbers in your password.
- Use at least 15 characters or more.
- Update your password regularly and don’t share it with anyone.
- If you need to share the password with someone, only give it to your most trustworthy employees so you can reduce the risk of human error.
- If you need to write your password down, make sure to do it in a secure place nobody but you has access to.
However, a secure login process doesn’t stop with a good and strong password, you also need to enable two-factor authentication. With it, whenever someone tries to log into your account, the cloud service provider will send a unique and one-time code to your email or cellphone.
And only if you have the right login details, password, and this code will you be able to access your account. You can see this as an extra layer of security, and since most cloud solutions offer two-factor authentication, you should definitely add it to your security policies.
- Be careful about what information you store
Storing sensitive information on the cloud can cause a lot of issues down the line. And we’re not just talking about the obvious such as credit card numbers, your social security number, financial information, or copies of your ID.
Sensitive information comes in many forms and storing it can sometimes even cause you to lose access to your account. The story of how Google permanently locked a parent’s account over their child’s medical photos shows just one of the reasons why you should be careful about what information you store on the cloud.
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi
While free public Wi-Fi can be tempting, it’s not a good idea to connect to it. You can never be sure whether that internet connection is secure, and if you can’t verify the source of the internet hotspot, don’t connect to it. Especially if you are connecting with a device you use for business.
Cybercriminals often use public Wi-Fi connections to steal information from the people who connect to them. If you want to protect yourself against ransomware, you need to be careful of all sorts of threats, including public Wi-Fi.
Data Protection Challenges in the Cloud
It’s important to understand that when you are looking to protect cloud data, you will also run into some challenges.
If you’re using a cloud storage service that doesn’t have proper security features or you simply haven’t configured your access control properly, data breaches have probably already occurred. This is a scary yet unavoidable reality, especially since 48% of businesses store their classified and most important data on the cloud.
Data breaches can happen to anyone, which is why you always need to make protecting data in the cloud a priority, not a second thought.
When data is being secured, that needs to happen according to its confidentiality level. And to do this, you need to restrict all of the permissions properly and restrict readability with encryption. Not only that, but you also need to protect your encryption keys and admin credentials.
Losing your data
The amount of data businesses collect and produce daily can seem overwhelming at times, but it’s important to stay on top of it if you don’t want to deal with data loss. And there are a lot of reasons why data loss can happen including inadequate data backups, risk assessments, and automated data loss controls.
Non-secure access control points
One of the benefits cloud services provide is that they make data accessible from any device anywhere in the world. However, unless access points are completely secured, the security of the cloud itself becomes compromised.
The Benefits of Cloud Data Protection
When you have a solid data protection program, you will enjoy the following benefits:
- Data security that is provided to you by design and stops unauthorized access.
- Redundancies that were built-in to ensure you have constant access to your resources and applications.
- Improved threat detection that helps assess all of the risks the organization’s vital data is facing.
- Archiving and maintaining compliance requirements to regulations such as HIPPA, GDPR, and CCPA.
- Protecting your data against DDoS attacks by continuously monitoring, identifying, analyzing, and migrating them with strict security policies.
The Bottom Line
Whether you run a business or you’re an individual who just wants to keep their data safe, storing it in the cloud is one of the best things you can do. But before you get ahead of yourself, you first need to think about all the things you need to do to protect cloud data.
Even though cloud storage solutions come with security features, walking the extra mile to make sure your data is always protected is a smart move. And with the right cloud security efforts, you don’t need to worry about data breaches, malware, or malicious outsiders who want to harm your business.