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Cloud Risk Management: 5 Best Practices for Keeping a Watchful Eye

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Cloud Risk Management: 5 Best Practices for Keeping a Watchful Eye
Author: DuploCloud | Wednesday, July 10 2024
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To keep your digital assets safe in the cloud, you should employ continuous monitoring, access control, and data encryption

From storing files to creating apps, cloud computing is an integral part of almost every tech company. That’s why a comprehensive cloud risk management strategy is more important than ever. Between social engineering, data breaches, and more traditional forms of hacking, threat actors can — and occasionally do — get their hands on sensitive corporate data. Implementing best practices for cloud data management at your company is your best defense against potential cybercrime.

We’ve outlined five tried-and-true strategies for protecting your digital assets from cloud-based threats. By monitoring your cloud resources, encrypting your data, controlling employee access, ensuring legal compliance, and developing an incident response plan, you can thwart many of the cyber threats that may come your way.

With the proper precautions, cloud computing can be an indispensable tool for your business, rather than a disproportionate security risk.

What Is Cloud Risk Management?

Cloud risk management is the process of evaluating threats in cloud services and then developing potential countermeasures for them. If you’re familiar with cybersecurity in general, then you’ll find that many of the same principles apply to cloud computing. Files, software, and systems in the cloud are prone to:

  • Data leakage: Employees can access, modify, and share data in improper ways, either on purpose or by accident. This means that sensitive files could wind up in unauthorized hands, or on public servers.
  • Social engineering: Instead of targeting your electronic systems, cybercriminals can target your employees directly via social engineering. These attacks fool employees into willingly giving up usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information, which can be devastating in a cloud environment. Phishing is the most common example.
  • Vulnerability exploitation: When hackers compromise systems, they often do so through finding and exploiting software or firmware vulnerabilities. If they access and share private files, then a company has suffered a data breach.
  • Malware distribution: While it’s difficult to deploy malware in a cloud environment, it’s trivial to hide malware as a legitimate file and convince people to run it on their own systems. A trusted cloud server can spread malware much faster than individualized attacks.
  • Man-in-the-middle attacks: When employees access cloud documents on unsecured networks, they can expose themselves to man-in-the-middle attacks. These attacks allow hackers to silently monitor, copy, or otherwise interfere with files in transit.
  • Legal noncompliance: Fields such as healthcare and finance are subject to legal regulations, and the records they keep must comply with industry standards. Improperly configured cloud servers risk noncompliance by exposing clients to potential privacy risks.

This is not an exhaustive list. Any one of these risks could lead to decreased revenue, negative publicity, employee dissatisfaction, loss of public trust, or even legal retribution. Furthermore, if threat actors discover a weakness in your company, they may feel emboldened to attack again in the future.
If you’re in the process of transferring your data, infrastructure, or services to the cloud, a reputable cloud migration solution can be invaluable. For more information on cloud risk management while moving your workflows online, read our free whitepaper on how automation can help ensure a smooth, efficient, and compliant migration.

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Cloud Risk Management Strategies

Since there are many ways to do business in the cloud, each company will have to develop its own set of best practices for cloud risk management. However, there are a few common features that any robust cybersecurity strategy should employ.

Continuous Monitoring

Continuous monitoring is one of the most powerful tools in modern cybersecurity systems. Rather than addressing security threats after they emerge, continuous monitoring takes a proactive approach. In this paradigm, IT systems keep a constant watch on a company’s applications, infrastructure, and networks. Through metrics, logs, and similar automated tools, administrators can spot vulnerabilities before cybercriminals can exploit them. Alternatively, if a cybercriminal does threaten a system, a continuous monitoring strategy can discover the attack in real time and escalate the issue to an administrator.

In cloud environments, there are multiple potential vectors of attack, and the signs of an attack may be subtle. Continuous monitoring ensures that administrators can discover anomalies before and as they happen, rather than after the fact.

Data Encryption

Data encryption is probably already part of your cybersecurity strategy, but it’s an especially important tool in cloud computing. Many cloud providers encrypt stored files, both in transit and at rest, as a matter of course. That’s a good start, but if a cybercriminal acquires a legitimate username and password, they’ll be able to decrypt the files.

If you need an extra layer of security, consider investing in third-party encryption software. This will let you encrypt files manually and share decryption keys with your staff via secure methods. The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which the United States government developed in 2001, is still one of the most powerful encryption methods available. Other popular standards, such as Triple DES (Data Encryption Standard) and RSA (Rivest–Shamir–Adleman), are now somewhat deprecated.

Access Control

Access control ensures that the right employees have access to the right data, and that there are limits on how they can modify and share it. There are two main components to access control: authentication and authorization.

Authentication means an employee must prove their identity before accessing sensitive files. This process could involve usernames, passwords, two-factor authentication (2FA), and similar challenges. Authorization means that an employee should have access to only the files they need. The rest of the system should be off-limits, particularly on personal devices or unsecured networks. The principle of least privilege, or the idea that users should have the minimum level of access necessary to complete their tasks, is a useful guide here.

Compliance

Compliance is one of the trickiest cybersecurity challenges, as no two industries have the same standards and regulations. Medical companies in the United States, for example, must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), while companies that gather data on European users must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Storing records in the cloud, in addition to local servers and physical documents, only complicates matters, as online data is inherently less private.

A cloud risk assessment may be a good place to start, as it should alert you to any potential gaps in your security — which could translate to areas of noncompliance.

Incident Response

If the high-profile data breaches of the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that even powerful companies with robust cybersecurity systems are not immune to online attacks. In spite of your best efforts, a threat actor may eventually breach one of your defenses. Developing an incident response plan could prevent a minor situation from spiraling out of control.

Confer with your IT and security teams to determine what actions you should take in the event of compromised accounts, ransomware attacks, exploited vulnerabilities, or other common threats. If you know who will take charge, how you can isolate threatened data from the rest of the system, and what to say to your employees and customers, you’ll be in good shape to recover and prevent future incidents.

Ensure Security and Compliance with DuploCloud

If you want to ensure security and compliance in your cloud risk management strategies, then DuploCloud can help. Our DevOps-as-a-Service platform streamlines and automates many common cybersecurity tasks. We also provide rich diagnostics so that you can address potential vulnerabilities in your system well before threat actors ever get a chance. Contact us to set up a demo today.

Author: DuploCloud | Wednesday, July 10 2024
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