These days, businesses all around the world have come to depend on cloud platforms for a variety of mission-critical workflows. Their CRM data is stored in the cloud. The cloud is used to process payrolls. They even manage their HR processes through the cloud. And all of that means they’re trusting the bulk of their privileged business data to those cloud providers, too.
And while most major cloud providers do a decent job of keeping data secure, the majority of business users take an upload-it-and-forget-it approach to their data security needs. This is, of course, dangerous.
In reality, cloud providers can only protect a business’s data if the business does its part by adhering to some cloud security best practices. And fortunately, they’re not that complicated. Here are the four most important cloud security best practices businesses should build into their cloud operations right away.
Never Skip Selection Due Diligence
Businesses should always do their due diligence before deciding which cloud vendor to use. You should always verify the reputation of each cloud provider. But it’s also just as important to scrutinize their security practices and the specifics of their user agreement.
Businesses should at least find out where and how their data is stored by the provider. Also, the vendor’s security measures to prevent unauthorized access.
They should also verify that the vendor provides technical support or guarantees in case of data breaches. If any information provided is unclear or not satisfactory, you should look for a better provider.
Create a Bulletproof Access Management Strategy
The next cloud security best practice is to devise and implement a unified access management strategy. One of the big security issues that cloud-dependent businesses face is that they rely on fragmented authentication and access management systems. This can lead to insecure credential management, permissions creep and poor authorization management.
To prevent these issues from happening, you can unify access and authentication through one sign-on provider (SSO). All accounts, regardless of platform, should be required to use multifactor authentication. They also need frequent access rights review. And lastly, it’s important to take steps to prevent identity theft. This problem is on the risel, so be sure to take proactive steps in that regard, before anything bad even happens.
Elevate User Education and Deploy Malware Protection
At the end of the day, the ultimate responsibility for data security rests with those trusted to access that data. Without proper education, users could be unable to close a security breach. That’s why it’s an essential best practice of cloud security to insist on proper training for all users before they’re given access to any critical business systems or data.
A second line of defense is to use a cloud-based malware and threat protection tool. These solutions provide protection through proactive threat defense and upload data scanning to prevent unauthorized users accessing cloud-hosted information. They are not a substitute for security-aware users who have been trained and have the necessary skills, but they can be an insurance policy for human errors.
Practice Data Minimization
Last, but certainly not least: It’s important for companies to reduce the amount of data that they entrust to cloud service providers. After all, you don’t need to protect data that’s never uploaded in the first place. The idea is to refine business processes to collect only the data required to make them work.
For example, managing a deal pipeline in the cloud will require the storage of some personally identifiable client data. It doesn’t need any financial information or other details beyond your contact information for it to work. It’s best for all parties to agree on the terms and avoid any unnecessary additions.
This goes a long ways in building a policy for data minimization, which reduces your business’s vulnerability to the cloud. It may be required by law depending on what data is involved. Reducing the number of cloud-based data can simplify data security, from access control to management to curation. This should be a core part of all online activities.
The Bottom Line
Cloud platforms and apps play an important role in the business operations of organizations of any size. They’re here to stay. Businesses must use these platforms to minimize risk and take data security risks. Failure to do this has cost many businesses their lives and will continue. But by taking data security seriously, beginning with the four best practices laid out above, today’s businesses can avoid that fate.