Top 7 Cloud Data Protection Best Practices
Did you know that about 21% of files in the cloud contain sensitive information?
Nov 22, 2023
Did you know that about 21% of files in the cloud contain sensitive information?
That’s why it’s crucial to take a close look at your cloud services and understand what kind of data they’re handling. Cloud data protection is all about keeping your data safe and secure in the cloud. It’s important for businesses to do this to follow regulations, prevent data breaches, and keep things running smoothly.
This ISMS Connect guide is here to give you the knowledge and tools you need to protect your organization’s cloud data effectively. By following these best practices, you can make sure that your sensitive information stays safe from breaches and unauthorized access.
Let’s get started.
What Is Cloud Data Protection?
When people talk about the cloud, they’re referring to a virtual space where data is stored and accessed via the internet. Cloud data protection is then the systems, tools, and processes you use to ensure that your data is secure when stored in the cloud.
This includes everything from encrypting data, setting access rights, and logging user actions, to regularly backing up your data and scanning for potential threats.
Cloud vendors (e.g., Google, Dropbox, etc.) usually operate with a “shared responsibility” model— they handle some aspects of data protection like backup and recovery, while customers handle others like securing their data and traffic.
Types of Cloud Data Protection
Cloud security relies heavily on encryption to ensure data protection. It involves encoding data in such a way that only authorized users can access it. Implementing encryption for data in transit and data at rest can help protect sensitive data from unauthorized access and data breaches.
Cloud cryptography uses encryption methods to protect data in the cloud. It enables users to securely access shared cloud services, as any data hosted by cloud providers is encrypted.
2. Authentication and Authorization
To confirm the identity of a user, a technique called authentication is used. However, authentication alone does not guarantee the security of data. Another layer, called authorization, is also needed. Authorization checks whether a user has the permission to access the data or perform the action they want.
Without authentication and authorization, there is no data security. To establish a reliable and secure online environment, it is essential to verify the identity of the person and the validity of the information they provide. This identity check ensures that the person is real and not a fraudster or a bot.
3. Safe Deletion Procedures
Data sometimes needs to be deleted for various reasons. To ensure complete and secure deletion of data, appropriate procedures should be followed.
Data should not simply be wiped away, but instead securely erased by using a process called “shredding” or overwriting the data multiple times with random information until it is no longer recoverable. Automatic deletion can also be enabled for data that is no longer required or is outdated.
4. Access Control
An adequate access control system can protect your company’s data by ensuring that only authorized individuals have access to it. Access control is a means of ensuring the authenticity of users and verifying that they possess the requisite permissions to access corporate data.
A robust access control system has the capability to:
Easily adapt to virtual environments (e.g., private clouds).
Effortlessly integrate with an organization's cloud resources and applications.
Protecting your organization’s cloud-based data requires a combination of these techniques. It’s not just about having one or two measures in place— it’s about creating a comprehensive strategy that covers all aspects of cloud data protection.
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Why is Cloud Data Protection Important?
Maintains Data Visibility
Cloud data visibility refers to the ability to see all the data in your cloud and how it is secured. This helps you to detect and prevent data security issues and data risks in your cloud environment.
To create and maintain a data security program with the right controls and technology, organizations need to have full data visibility. For example, they need to know what data they have, where it is located, who can access it and what is the appropriate protection method that will reduce risk.
Ensures Data Integrity
Data integrity is the process of ensuring that data is accurate, consistent, and reliable throughout its life cycle. It is a key aspect of data management, as it can help businesses gain a competitive edge, especially in the era of Big Data. By maintaining data integrity, organizations can improve their data quality, make better data-driven decisions, and reduce the risk of data loss or corruption.
Cloud compliance refers to the process of ensuring that an organization’s use of cloud-based services, resources, and technologies adheres to relevant laws and regulations governing data privacy, security, and management. Achieving cloud compliance helps organizations mitigate risks and protect sensitive information.
Many cloud services must comply with specific regulations and standards to protect sensitive data. Take the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) as an illustration. This standard is implemented to guarantee the security of debit and credit card transactions. It includes specific provisions for cloud-based deployments.
8 Cloud Data Protection Best Practices
1. Understand Shared Responsibility
In a cloud environment, ensuring security is a joint effort involving both the cloud service provider and the customer. The provider takes on the responsibility of safeguarding the cloud infrastructure, while the customer is accountable for protecting their data and controlling access within the cloud.
To summarize, your responsibilities are usually:
Data security and privacy (encryption, data masking)
Access control (authentication, authorization)
For instance, if you're using a cloud service like Amazon Web Services (AWS), understand that AWS is responsible for the security of the underlying infrastructure (physical servers, data centers), while you're responsible for securing your data and managing access. To implement this, you should use access controls, encryption, and security groups to protect your data within AWS.
2. Identify Security Gaps Between Systems
Different cloud providers offer different capabilities, which can lead to inconsistencies in cloud data protection and security. For example, you may be using AWS for one part of your infrastructure and Azure for another. It’s important to identify the gaps and address them to ensure a consistent level of security across all systems.
To identify security gaps, compare the security features and services provided by both providers. For instance, AWS might have a specific feature for DDoS protection that Azure lacks. In this case, you should fill the gap by using a third-party DDoS protection service, like:
3. Ensure Built-in Security at All Stages
Cloud data protection should be integrated at all stages—from design to deployment.
This includes implementing robust authentication and authorization rules, using built-in security policies from the cloud provider, enabling encryption of all data before transfer, and regularly auditing access.
For example, when designing a cloud application, incorporate security practices from the start.
In AWS, you can use Identity and Access Management (IAM) to enforce authentication and authorization, and Amazon S3 bucket policies to control access to your data. This built-in security approach ensures that security is an integral part of your system.
4. Seek Data Protection Consultancy
Data protection consultancy involves seeking professional guidance to ensure the security and compliance of your data. It includes assessing current practices, identifying risks, implementing measures, and maintaining data protection policies. The goal is to meet legal requirements, enhance data security, and reduce the risk of breaches.
This is something the ISMS Connect team can help you with, too.
We can perform vulnerability assessments on your current ISMS to help you identify any weak areas and suggest measures for improvement. We can also help you develop a plan to ensure your data remains secure, compliant with industry standards, and protected from unauthorized access.
5. Create Centralized Control
Implementing centralized control allows you to have better visibility and management of your cloud resources. It enables you to establish policies for access control, data protection, and threat detection, ensuring consistent security across different cloud services.
Using a service like AWS Organizations, for example, can centralize access control and security policies across multiple AWS accounts. This ensures that all accounts follow the same security standards and simplifies management and monitoring.
6. Automate Where Possible
Automating tasks within your cloud data protection strategy can greatly enhance efficiency and effectiveness. By automating processes like backup and recovery, threat detection and response, and policy enforcement, you can streamline operations and reduce the risk of human error. Automation enables you to maximize the benefits of your cloud environment while minimizing the effort required for routine tasks.
For threat detection and response, you can set up automated alerts in your cloud environment. For instance, you can configure AWS CloudWatch Alarms to automatically notify your security team when specific security-related events occur, reducing the response time.
7. Ascertain Backup and Recovery
Regular backup and recovery practices are essential for safeguarding your data in case of a disaster or data loss event. If you're using Google Cloud, you can set up automated backups of your Google Cloud Storage objects to Cloud Storage Nearline, providing an extra layer of data protection.
Plus, it is important to ensure that your chosen cloud provider offers robust backup and recovery options. Additionally, it is crucial to regularly test these systems to verify their effectiveness and reliability.
Safeguarding your data is crucial.
Cloud data protection best practices are essential for protecting your valuable data. It’s important to understand shared responsibility, address security gaps, and integrate security into every stage of cloud deployment. Seeking data protection consultancy is highly recommended, especially in a changing regulatory landscape.
At ISMS Connect, our goal is to make cloud security certification easier and more accessible, so you can be sure your data is safe and secure. Benefit from accessible guides, prefilled templates, and comprehensive on-demand help from our expert consultants.
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