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Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Cloud Data Safe

While the cloud is the go-to storage solution for many individuals and companies, the general assumption that “data is safe in the cloud” is a critical failing of many users. With both hacking and cybercrime on the rise - and the US expected to be the source of at least half of global data breaches as early as next year - it’s more important than ever to ensure your cloud computing security is stringent.

What Does A Secure Cloud Mean?

Just because the cloud lies outside of your office IT infrastructure doesn’t mean it’s not still a cornerstone of your online security efforts. The idea is to create a cloud storage that’s still simple to access by everyone who needs it, but which can ward off hacking attempts, trace unexpected activity to the source, and notify you immediately if anything you didn’t expect occurs with your data. While the nebulous term “in the cloud” might make this an intimidating proposition, it’s really just like any other tech-focused IT solution you’re already using.

The Power of Encrypted Data

One of the cornerstones of your security efforts in the cloud lie in encrypting data, but what does that mean in real terms? Remember, the very thing that makes the cloud so compelling as a solution - the ease of access - is also its biggest vulnerability.

Encrypted data means that you can see the document “as intended” on your side, and so can the intended recipient, but the data sent between those two points is rendered useless to intrusion through obfuscation techniques. It means only the intended users can “interpret” this stream of nonsense correctly, while hackers will be left with nothing of value. There are many different methods of data encryption, each with their own pros and cons, but that goes a little outside the scope of this guide. What matters is that you’re using it, and one sophisticated enough to stand up to cybercrime threats.

Securing “User Failure”

As always in the security industry, your data is only as safe as the users let it be. There’s no point in a password system if your users are choosing some of the most common passwords in the world, after all! While there’s always a balance to be struck between creating user-friendly systems and security, even something as simple as tightening password protocols and regularly rotating passwords can be an immense help in the fight against hackers. If you regularly upload sensitive data, make sure you have a cloud engineer who can enforce strong password protocols, and who includes security measures at all levels of your cloud access.

Two factor authentication has a strong role in this, too. By introducing a second verification point behind the password, it can exponentially increase how safe your data is, without much knock-on effect on users.

Stay Up to Date

You can’t react to a threat you don’t know exists. Simply staying up-to-date on what’s happening in the cybercrime field - think malware, advanced persistent threats, and more sophisticated threats - you can adapt your cloud security and protocols before the threat hits. Remember, cloud security will never be a “set it and forget it” part of your IT security, but rather something you adapt and evolve as needed. The cloud is great for evolving enterprises, as it has scalability built in, so take full advantage of that bonus. Always work with cloud partners you can trust to keep their own security up-to-date and on point.

Consider Hybridization

A hybrid cloud is a simple concept, but surprisingly effective as a security measure. Here you establish a private “cloud within a cloud” with higher security protocols, or even choose to not use a cloud storage solution at all for specific high-value or sensitive data. In the meantime, your broader employee base can leverage the convenience of cloud solutions for less business-critical matters. And remember - even if you’re using a private cloud for that sensitive data, it makes sense to have a physical copy secured somewhere too, or use a disaster recovery service to ensure you’re covered even if the worst happens.

Link and Access Expiration

Setting expiry dates on links shared from your cloud ensures that access to the data “times out” at set points. This means a disgruntled former employee can’t use their old link and credentials to access your sensitive information years after they left. Likewise, make sure you have overall permissions set so you can easily pull access to cloud data if you offboard staff or vendors. Enhance this another layer by applying the same principles to connected apps that use your cloud storage.

While less easy to institute, it also pays to have something monitoring the devices accessing your cloud, ready to pull access if the session is suspicious. Something as simple as an account left logged in on a stolen device can be a considerable security risk.

As you can see, many of these tips for securing cloud storage are the same as you’ll see in any tech field, and needn’t be cumbersome, expensive, or difficult to enact. So take steps to preserve your data today, and institute cloud security that delivers where it counts.

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