5 Ways to Mitigate Cloud Security Risk
Technology has paved the way for businesses to function with higher levels of security and efficiency. One of the most notable innovations is the “Cloud” which represents a collection of digital technologies for remote collaboration, data storage, secure file sharing and so much more. The term itself refers to servers that are accessible over the internet along with their software and databases. And since the cloud stores your business’ most valuable information, it’s essential to assure that it’s properly secured. With the right policies, process and tools in place, you will have greater confidence in your cloud computing security.
What Is Cloud Security?
Cloud security refers to the collection of applications, practices, and policies created to protect your cloud infrastructure and all of your data. Today, your business’ cloud systems are more susceptible to hacking and threats than ever, putting the valuable data stored within them at risk.
Unfortunately, there is no full-proof way to eliminate all cloud security risks, but you can mitigate them. Common examples of these risks include:
- Poor visibility of your network
- Ineffective protection against malware
- Inadequate security policy compliance
- Failure to conduct diligence on 3rd parties
- Insecure business application interfaces
Failing to mitigate and address the risks you find in your system can lead to severe consequences for your business. This may include the loss of customer trust – especially considering the data you store and process will likely be their confidential and private information. Nothing will tank a customer relationship faster than a data security breach or loss of valuable data.
Here are 5 ways to mitigate the risks associated with cloud security and protect your most valuable data:
1. Assess The Risks In Your System
The first way to assure the security of your cloud’s infrastructure is to consider assessing the risks specific to your system. More specifically, this means performing a cybersecurity risk assessment on your system. Doing so enables you to pinpoint and address the possible threats in your organization and quantify the damage they might cause. The results of this assessment will reflect how prepared your business is and how vulnerable you are to potential cyberattacks, including ransomware and malware.
To perform a cybersecurity assessment, consider the following steps:
- Scope: You certainly have the option to assess your entire organization’s infrastructure to gain a comprehensive view of your level of cybersecurity risk. On the other hand, you can also opt to prioritize the indispensable components of your organization first instead of scanning your system in its entirety.
- Identify: The second step is to identify all of your assets, such as hardware and software systems, and note the possible threats to each of them. Not only will this give you an overview of what assets may be at risk, but it will also give you an idea of the problems that you can prepare for.
- Analyze: Third, you’ll need to determine how likely an incident or threat may occur. Furthermore, this means understanding how it may impact your organization. This will help you figure out which assets to prioritize for protection.
- Evaluate: Fourth, you evaluate alternative solutions to avoid or mitigate cybersecurity risks and select the best options that fit your needs.
- Document: Lastly, it is important to document all of the risks you identified in the previous steps and your approaches to mitigating them. You can also look into how others are dealing with potential risks and compare them to the preventive measures you have put in place. With a baseline established, you can then update it periodically based on the data and information that you now have to ensure an up-to-date and effective mitigation plan.
2. Monitor Third Parties
Another effective way to mitigate cloud security risks is to monitor third parties that have access to your infrastructure, regardless of whether they have full or limited access. You may also refer to these third parties as vendors, which your business may be using to help you streamline your processes. In fact, this may include your cloud service providers too.
It’s essential to assure that these third parties won’t jeopardize your cloud infrastructure and the data stored there. Note that there are several ways you can assure that service providers are secure and reliable such as:
- Shared responsibility model: This refers to a shared responsibility for risk mitigation between clients and cloud providers. In this arrangement, the service provider is responsible for the security of the cloud while the client is responsible for the one in the cloud. This, in return, can help businesses work with reputable cloud providers to ensure the security of the cloud being utilized in their organization. If you’re interested in this, consider learning more about how this works between companies and cloud service providers.
- Due diligence: Another way to ensure that third parties don’t endanger your business’ cloud infrastructure, consider conducting thorough due diligence on them before working with them. And part of this is also knowing what their previous clients have to say about their services and performance.
This allows you to know if they’re reliable. And more so, it can help you come up with a better assessment and make a well-informed decision on whether or not they’re the right fit for your organization.
- Validation or certification: Similar to the previous point, it’s also essential that you see to it that your vendors are always validated and have the necessary certification. This can help ensure they have the substantial knowledge, skills, and expertise to assist you in securing your cloud infrastructure. In addition, depending on your country or locality, there may also be legal regulations for cloud providers and businesses to operate. You may check those to make sure they’re compliant with these regulations.
3. Train Your Employees
The next way to mitigate cloud security risk in your organization is to train your employees, set up security risk mitigation policies, and enforce these. This approach helps ensure your staff is well informed and familiar with various attacks that may infiltrate your cloud infrastructure. And with that in mind, your internal personnel can act as a line of defense in keeping your system secure from being hijacked by external forces such as cybercriminals.
Aside from conducting necessary training or seminars to train your employees, you can also enforce strong guidelines when it comes to passwords, which include those used by both executives and employees. Note that it’s essential that your employees and your organization know how to protect their passwords. This is because these passwords are one of the main ways to keep data access available only to those inside your organization. And to do this, train all members of your company to use long, unique, and strong passwords.
Additionally, you may also set up policies and agreements that hold everyone responsible and accountable for any data breaches that they may cause. This can help motivate them to be more mindful of their online activities and be more diligent in observing security protocols. Furthermore, you can also include limiting access to sites that are not related to your business or installing apps or software that does not help your operations. This can help prevent any malware from being installed into your company devices that may grant access to your cloud systems.
4. Set Up A Strong Security System
Another surefire way to mitigate cloud security risk would be to set up a strong security system. But instead of only relying on a strong password system, consider having a solid network monitoring system and backing up and encrypting your data:
- Monitoring System: A network monitoring system means monitoring both the outbound and inbound traffic to your network systems. Doing so enables you to see if there are any intrusion attempts into your system. And from there, you can take immediate action before any more damage can be done. It will also help you identify any leaks made by any rogue employees. To better achieve this, consider having properly configured firewalls and threat intelligent systems, as these can help you protect your system from malware, botnets, and more.
- Encrypting Your Data: Consider always having a backup of your data and encrypting them. This can help you mitigate the aftermath of data loss caused by breaches. Then by encrypting them, if any data is stolen, cybercriminals may not be able to gain the actual information from what they stole or intercepted. However, note that the encryption must be strong as they may just decrypt this.
5. Prepare For Incidents And Breaches
Lastly, consider having an incident response plan to help you mitigate cloud security risks better and more efficiently. It can’t be denied that breaches aren’t impossible, no matter how advanced your systems are. Therefore, having an incident response plan or IRP is worth considering. An IRP refers to your organization’s protocols if any cyber incidents occur. It’s also a way for businesses to comply with requirements set by regulatory organizations. It may also include the notification requirements that your response team must give to the authorities. While you may customize your own IRP, you have to ensure that they’re in line with the requirements provided by the authorities. Having an IRP will not only help you comply with regulations but also help you immediately respond to any incidents, which can help minimize massive losses.
As more and more businesses implement new solutions into their business to boost productivity and collaboration, it’s also wise to understand the risks that come with these technologies. And suppose your business is hoping to use cloud computing or is already using one. It’s essential to understand the possible security risks that come with it, as it can put your business’ data, cloud infrastructure, and customers’ and clients’ data at risk of theft or loss. That said, the importance of cloud security must not be neglected. Hopefully, the list of ways to mitigate cloud security risks above has helped you learn ways to better protect your cloud infrastructure and the data you store.
If you want to keep up with how data security and privacy is transforming the business world as we know it, follow @TopRightPartner on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn, subscribe to my blog, and buy a copy of my latest book published by Harvard Business Review, Strategic Analytics.