A Guide to Cloud Data Security Best Practices

By Kasey Hewitt

Posted on Sep 27, 2021

Cloud computing has revolutionized the business and technological landscape of the last decade. More organizations are turning to cloud services to better manage massive volumes of both structured and unstructured data on a daily basis. As organizations move more and more information and applications to the cloud, there are growing concerns for data security and regulatory compliance.

70% of organizations that are hosting workloads in the public cloud experienced a security incident in the last year. For that reason, cloud security is more important than ever before. Cloud data security refers to the culmination of technologies, controls, processes, and policies that secure the cloud computing environment against cyber threats. Let’s take a look at the core set of best practices for cloud data security that can guide your organization toward a secure cloud infrastructure and mitigate any security risks.

Why is cloud data security important?

The rapid mass adoption of cloud computing is what drives the need for cloud security. As organizations move more data and workloads to the cloud, there is a growing concern about security, governance, and compliance issues. Many IT professionals are concerned that their sensitive data will be at risk for exposure through accidental leaks or sophisticated cyber threats. Here are the top reasons why cloud data security is a critical component of cloud computing.

Gain visibility

Most organizations access a range of cloud services through multiple locations, departments, and devices. Therefore, this kind of complexity in the cloud computing setup can cause you to lose visibility within your infrastructure. Without the appropriate tools and processes in place, you can't see who is using your cloud services and the kind of data they are accessing. Ultimately, this lack of visibility can increase the risk of a data breach. However, with cloud data security measures in place, organizations gain visibility into the inner workings of the cloud and can better identify risk.

Avoid compliance violations

You can introduce the risk of compliance violations when moving your workloads and applications into the cloud if you are not careful. Many regulations require your organization to know exactly where your data is stored, who has access to it, how it is processed, and how it is protected. Some regulations also require that your cloud provider holds specific compliance credentials. Your organization can be at risk of compliance violations if the proper steps are not taken to transfer data to the cloud or when deciding on a cloud services provider.

Maintain business continuity

A comprehensive cloud data security plan helps maintain your business continuity by protecting against threats such as denial-of-service attacks (DDoS attacks). These attacks are conducted through various cloud services and target availability, service level agreements, and performance. Unexpected outages and system downtime can interrupt your business operations and impact your bottom line.

6 best practices for cloud data security

Let’s take a look at the six best practices for cloud data security that are essential for any organization operating in the cloud.

1. Secure your user endpoints

Since endpoints serve as access points to all cloud processes, organizations must protect endpoints to their networks and devices used to access the cloud. Endpoint protection means securing end-user devices, such as laptops, mobile phones, and desktops. By enhancing endpoint security, organizations can effectively prevent risky activities that provide entry points that can be compromised by cybercriminals.

2. Implement encryption

Every time you use cloud services, you expose your data to increased risk by sending it back and forth between your network and the cloud. To ensure that your data remains secure when using cloud services, implement the highest levels of encryption for data both in transit and at rest.

3. Require to control user access

Tightly controlling user access through policies and guidelines will help manage the users operating on your network and within the cloud. It is recommended that organizations start from zero trust, only granting users access to the systems and data they need, and nothing more. Organizations should create well-defined groups with assigned roles to grant access to specific resources. This will help to avoid complexity when implementing policies.

4. Choose a trusted provider

It’s critical for organizations to partner with a trusted cloud provider who consistently delivers the best in-built security protocols and conforms to industry standards. The mark of a trusted cloud provider is evident in the range of security compliance and certifications they hold – something that they will make publicly available, no questions asked.

5. Define cloud usage policies

Despite organizations implementing a corporate strategy for securely using cloud accounts, employees tend to utilize the clouds without adhering to the established guidelines. For that reason, it’s important to monitor employees’ usage activities and patterns. In doing so, organizations can deny access to any suspicious cloud activities, ensuring data and applications in the cloud remain secured.

6. Practice good password hygiene

Practicing good password hygiene and implementing the strongest password security policy are essential in preventing unauthorized access. A strong password security policy typically requires one upper-case letter, one lower-case letter, one symbol, and a minimum of 14 characters. Additionally, organizations should enforce employees to update their passwords every 90 days to maintain the utmost protection.

How SecurityScorecard can help

It’s important to continuously monitor your cloud to identify potential security gaps that pose as opportunities for cybercriminals. However, implementing a robust cloud data security plan can be a daunting task for any organization to manage.

With SecurityScorecard’s Security Ratings, organizations can continuously monitor and manage the security of their cloud solutions. SecurityRatings provides easy-to-read A-F ratings of your network security, enabling your organization to confidently and seamlessly manage its cloud data security efforts. As organizations continue to jump on the cloud bandwagon, proactive cybersecurity measures will be necessary to ensure a successful and secured move to dynamic cloud environments. See how SecurityScorecard can help your business and request a demo.

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