Implementing Cloud Data Security

By CIOReview | Thursday, August 24, 2017
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In order to strengthen cloud-based data security, cloud storage services offer options such as automated encryption, access control, and advanced security configurations. The primary reasons for failed data security implementation are improper testing of security configuration and complete dependence on cloud providers. Organizations must prioritize the need for cloud data security to reduce and avoid the probability of a data breach or compromise. Some of the best practices for securing a cloud system include data encryption, distributed access control, centralized management, and general employee-based actions.

Leveraging Existing Best Practices

As organizations move toward a cloud approach, it is essential to know the exact location of the stored confidential data. It is recommended for IT teams to ensure that the organization’s data is stored in U.S.-based data centers as they are well-regulated and subject to consequences in case of data exposure. If the data is stored in a foreign location, organization should know the data center’s physical location and the country’s law pertaining to access and security.

Data encryption must be done by all organizations. For a proper encryption plan, the data flows must be fully mapped out through all tools and data tables that store the data. Data encryption security plans can be sorted in terms of small, medium, and large plans. Small plans include basic encryption for the stored data. In such a case, data may get compromised but the encryption will ensure minimal damage. Medium plan encrypts data in both—flight and rest as it is important to deflect breaches. A large plan consists of advanced security like data encryption during transfer and storage, data usage tracking, and monitoring any changes to the current data. It is important to verify the cloud security configuration with 3rd party testing for ensuring an effective configuration.

Securing Organizational Cloud Architecture

IT personnel can choose out of several steps for adding data security to their current cloud architecture. At first, it is essential to use the distribution access control that is currently being used on the application and apply the same to the data that moves outside the organization’s secure environment. The next step is centralizing the data and application deployment and updates management so that same tool is being used for both from the same location. Adding federated identity management for verifying users at every point of interaction is also recommended, but not a compulsion. Within the application code, one of the best practices is supporting verification of access to both the application and the data for each request.

Another best practice is never specifying location of data within the application code. The access to this information should be given only to certain, defined users. Multiple customers’ data should be stored separately to stop access to data without proper authorization. It is highly recommended to consider adding this requirement to the vendor service-level agreement and confirm compliance over time.

Ensuring Secure Employee Access

All the documents containing data that are shared must be tracked by the organizations at all times. Sensitive data from any department such as finance or engineering are at a risk of being exposed through cloud-sharing applications. Data that contains confidential and sensitive data must be tightly secured, and organizations should make employees aware of the usage and security restrictions around such data. Users must only access the data that is required to perform a certain task only. To ensure such a security, tracking and monitoring must be done at all levels of the organization.

Cloud systems and services have proved to be extremely valuable and an asset to businesses. However, organizations should not hand over the control to their cloud providers. It is important to be aware of latest security issues and existing best practices to properly secure data in the cloud. Additionally, organizations must monitor internal data access and data sharing, and must enforce the rules with its employees.