Top 10 Best Practices For Cloud Security In 2021

19 Jan 2021 by Bryan Smalley

In the post-COVID-19 era, the digital transformation has accelerated the speed of cloud adoption significantly as more individuals and organizations are migrating to the cloud for better storage and connectivity. This rapid acceleration has turned cybersecurity on its head, as business networks become vulnerable to new threats and security challenges. Threat actors are attracted to the availability of enterprise data and dedicate their resources to studying systems and finding vulnerabilities in an attempt to use poor design to their benefit. In this article, I’ll be reviewing some of the main threats facing enterprise cloud customers as well as some of the 10 best practices you can employ to reduce the chances of your organization being the victim of the next big hack. 

Top Cloud Security Threats To Monitor In 2021

Here are some of the ways in which cloud security is threatened by malicious actors on the internet:

Access Management

Cybersecurity in the cloud revolves around Identity and Access Management or IAM. This framework of technologies ensures that only the right people in an enterprise have access to that company's information. In addition to identifying and authenticating users these technologies also do the same for the hardware and applications used by an individual. Insufficient access management, crisis management, information campaigns, and complacency on behalf of organizations are the prime reasons for massive data breaches. One such example is the 2020 Facebook’s data breach that compromised nearly 267 million records.

Data Leakage

Data Leakage is also known as low and slow data theft. Data leaks or thefts happen when an entity accesses or extracts information without authorization. Some data leaks are accidental. For example, an employee may send an email with sensitive date to the wrong recipient. Another common form of data leakage are emails sent with malicious intent. These are more commonly referred to as phishing attacks. By clicking a link or visiting a web address, an employee who’s not properly vetting their emails can unwittingly give a hacker access to their computer or network. 

Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) 

As the name suggests, APT’s utilize sophisticated, continuous, clandestine hacking techniques to gain access to an organization's network and remain there for a long period of time. The ultimate goal is to steal information over a long period of time as opposed to the typical “in and out” fashion of a less sophisticated attack. Due to the amount of expertise and effort needed to carry out this type of attack, ATP’s usually target high value entities such as nations and global enterprises. However, ATP’s have begun targeting smaller companies that make up the supply chain of larger corporations in an attempt to gain a “foothold” in the larger companies network. 

Top Ten Cloud Security Best Practices to Adopt in 2021

Security concerns like the ones discussed above will continue to be threats for businesses as cloud adoption accelerates in the future. Ensuring cloud security should remain a top priority and consulting with an expert is always a good first step. But there’s no need to stop there. In addition to expert advice, here are the top ten cloud security best practices that businesses can adopt right now to get the edge over malicious actors.

 

1. Rigorous And Ongoing VAPT

It’s important that you’re aware of what’s in your Cloud Service Provider’s contractual agreement and that you hold them to those standards. They should be providing continuous and stringent Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) using the latest industry-level vulnerability and incident response tools customized to your cloud environment. This knowledge helps strengthen your security posture while minimizing vulnerability simultaneously.  This will enhance your preparedness levels and ensure that you’re ready for anything. 

2. Classify Data

Data breaches and data loss are some of the top cloud security threats plaguing the industry today. Securing cloud data should be the prime objective of business organizations globally. It is essential to identify which data in your organizations requires the maximum amount of protection. Highly-sensitive data requires the most robust security so classifying data depending on it’s significance to your organization is a good way to allocate resources to core information. It might not be possible to assign equal security standards to all of your data due to limiting factors such as data size and format. Therefore, businesses should invest in data classification software to determine which data requires the highest security levels. This will increase security measures around information most valuable to your organization all while reducing costs. 

3. Deploy An Identity & Access Management (IAM) Solution

Inadequate access management solutions also count among the top cloud security threats. Hence, the need to deploy a robust identity and access management solution to prevent unauthorized access is essential. Unauthorized access and account hijacking have been some of the top cloud security threats requiring immediate attention. Organizations can mitigate this security risk by implementing high-quality IAM solutions. It includes role-based permission capabilities and multi-factor authentication. Businesses can add multiple protective layers with user-level data security to ensure that they comply with external and internal security standards.

4. Use Of Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)

Using public cloud services has its advantages, but one has to contend with severe cybersecurity issues when there is a multi-tenant approach to the public cloud. The ideal cloud security best practices include the use of the services of a virtual private cloud. The advantage of leveraging cloud infrastructure that offers restricted use is that users have complete control. It enables organizations to capture any unauthorized and suspicious activity.

5. Implement Endpoint Security

While businesses employ cloud security best practices to protect data on the cloud, one should not ignore the need for using endpoint security. It involves securing end-user devices like PCs, laptops, mobile devices, and applications that corporate networks use to access cloud accounts. Malicious actors can exploit the vulnerabilities in these devices and gain access to the cloud network. Implementing endpoint security extends to stringent policies concerning the BYOD practice where employees use personal devices to modify cloud data. It includes using VPNs when accessing cloud accounts using a public Wi-Fi network.

6. Educate, And Train Staff Members On Cloud Security Trends

While securing physical assets is of paramount importance, organizations should not forget their core assets, the human workforce. In today’s evolving technological setting, businesses depend on their staff members and other personnel to operate their information systems and networks. Therefore, educating and training staff members on current cloud security trends is essential if the organization plans to upgrade its cloud ecosystem’s safety quotient. The advantage of training employees is that they become competent to identify malicious and suspicious behavior. Many organizations cannot take full advantage of developing cloud technology because they ignore this fundamental aspect of educating staff members. By employing this cloud security best practice, organizations can empower themselves and employees to effectively manage malicious actors.

7.  Choose Cloud Vendors Carefully

With more businesses opting to move to the cloud, there is a surfeit of cloud vendors in the industry. Each of them endeavors to provide the best cloud security solutions to their clients. Hence, it becomes a challenge for CISOs to finalize the ideal cloud vendor for their organization. One of the factors for assessing their security capabilities is evaluating compliance levels with information compliance standards. They should adhere to different regulations like HIPAA and GDPR, to name two of them. Businesses can insist on cloud vendors to produce compliance certifications to satisfy compliance audit requirements. Cloud vendors should also ensure 24x7 data and network availability. It is better to choose cloud vendors who conduct regular risk assessments and install timely patches to prevent zero-day attacks. One of the best cloud security practices based on today’s cloud security trends is choosing cloud vendors carefully.

8. Encrypt All Data

If organizations want to upgrade their cloud infrastructure’s security quality, encryption of the information is essential. While doing so, one has to ensure that data in motion and rest are both encrypted. This strategy gives you a clear edge over online attackers. The advantage of data encryption is that the encrypted data in cloud storage and the transit path does not allow malicious actors to identify an organization’s vulnerabilities. Thus businesses can minimize their susceptibility to security breaches to a substantial degree. No organization should ever ignore this cloud security best practice.

9. Conduct Due Diligence

Organizations should endeavor to provide resiliency, security, and functionality for all systems and applications deployed in the cloud. To ensure it, they should understand the cloud service provider’s applications and networks. It calls for performing due diligence across all deployed systems and application’s lifecycles. It should extend to the cloud migration planning stage to enable the organization to select the ideal service provider. It is also advisable for cloud consumers to use the provider’s documented best security practices for using the applications. Reviewing and collaborating with the cloud vendor provides insightful information on how to use the systems and applications.

10. Protection Against Cloud Phishing And Malware Threat

As malicious actors invent innovative techniques and methods to infiltrate cloud networks, cloud phishing and malware threats have become the most commonly used attack methods. Therefore, organizations should gear up their cloud security best practices to protect against such threats. One way to minimize the business’s vulnerability is to have a protective layer on the cloud. It can restrict malicious actors and make it challenging for them to exploit the cloud platform’s vulnerability. Protecting emails is crucial because phishing attacks primarily happen through emails. When you have protection against cloud phishing and malware threats, you don’t have to fret over the security aspect while using emails for communication.

Final Words

Today, many business organizations find it inevitable to migrate to the cloud. With more establishments doing so, cloud security threats are increasing as well. Organizations must implement cloud security best practices to thwart malicious actors’ attempts to access the cloud enterprise network and compromise critical data. Organizations must implement the ten best cloud security practices discussed above to enhance their overall cybersecurity levels. CISOs should include these practices in their cybersecurity policies and educate every employee on cloud security trends to follow them strictly – it is especially crucial to secure data integrity and build trust among clients.

Author

Bryan Smalley

Bryan is a technology consultant with decades of experience advising clients in technology construction, IT infrastructure, data centers, audiovisual, security, unified communications, networks, and more. He is adept at isolating real issues in complex projects.

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