7 Best Practices for Cloud Data Security Governance

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As more business operations migrate to cloud-based systems, companies must manage cloud security risks. Protecting your data on a local network is easier since your data can only be accessed from within the network, which itself is in a physical structure. However, cloud data can be accessed from anywhere. You have to build virtual walls and ensure they remain firm to protect your data in the cloud. Consider these best practices to implement for a high level of cloud security.

7 Best Practices for Cloud Data Security Governance

1. Control Cloud Access

Just because you can access cloud files from anywhere doesn’t mean you should allow unlimited access to your data in the cloud. Although the cloud offers unparalleled convenience, you need to strike a healthy balance between ease of access and security. This starts with user access management. Not all users should have access to all data. Your most capable IT administrators, such as network admins or data experts, should have full access, including the ability to edit or delete files.

Senior management could have permission to view all data, but it may be best to limit their ability to modify certain files. As you move further down the chain, access should become more restricted. To further protect your data, you should also put safeguards in place to prevent unwanted access. For example, configuring two-factor authentication (2FA) is a great way to protect your cloud from intrusions. If a password is stolen, 2FA will require an additional confirmation, preventing unauthorized logins.

2. Know Your Data

A bank knows what’s inside its vault. Similarly, you need to know what data you have, where it’s kept, and how it should be handled. Certain files may be inconsequential if lost or stolen, but others could be damaging to your business. Even if your company is based in Arkansas, if you frequently deal with clients from California, for instance, you could be subject to fines or lawsuits from Californians if their personal information is stolen in a data breach.

Knowing your data also means knowing what to keep and what to delete. Redundant, outdated, and trivial files (ROT data) pose liabilities and can even interfere with your data analytics if they’re accidentally processed by your system. Removing unnecessary files also reduces your cloud storage expenses. Good data management benefits both cybersecurity and business operations. You should have clear protocols in place for how to handle different types of data to minimize the need for constant data cleaning.

3. Educate Your Associates

Human error is the primary cause of data breaches, and it’s not even close. While Hollywood likes to portray breaches in dramatic fashion with shady hackers in front of a dozen computer screens, reality is far more mundane. Most breaches happen when a company associate is innocently tricked into giving up their access credentials via a phishing attack or some other means. While 2FA can help protect against these attacks, criminals have strategies to circumvent that protection as well.  

One new technique that has emerged is to bombard the user with 2FA requests, hoping to simply fatigue them into accepting the request. In other cases, a criminal may even impersonate another team member to convince the user to accept the request; this is what happened to Uber. How can you prevent these attacks? The key is education. Prepare your team for these events by teaching them what to expect and how to respond. Perform regular drills to test readiness.

4. Monitor Your Cloud Data

Cybersecurity revolves around three key principles: prevention, detection, and response. Much like in medicine, prevention is preferable. That’s why the bulk of these best practices focus on preventative measures. Nevertheless, even with the best security policies possible, criminals will eventually try to attack. The sooner you can detect a cybersecurity incident, the more likely you are to nip it in the bud and prevent actual damage. Therefore, it’s essential to monitor your data and cloud network activity.

Fortunately, there is software that you can use to keep an eye on your systems. Cybersecurity software can run in the cloud and monitor your cloud storage in real time. These programs adapt to your company’s behavior, learning which files you regularly access and when. Furthermore, these tools can pay special attention to sensitive data that’s governed by data privacy laws, making it easier to become compliant. Any unusual activity can be flagged or halted immediately.

5. Have Clearly Defined Response Protocols

Do you know exactly what to do if a data breach has been detected? How should you respond if a device is infected with malware or ransomware? If you can’t immediately provide a detailed answer to those questions, you need to draft response plans as soon as possible. It’s imperative that everyone in your organization knows what to do in these situations.

Since most cybersecurity incidents are the result of human error, associates at every level need to be familiar with your response plan. This is not just a task for upper management or your IT staff. Be sure to clearly publish this information and distribute it to your team. Hold training sessions or periodic reviews. If even just a few people fail to follow your guidelines, you increase your exposure to risk.

6. Audit Your Cloud Security

All companies, regardless of their size, should consider having a third party review their cybersecurity practices and policies. In the same way a building inspector may be able to find problems that others cannot, a cybersecurity expert can identify gaps in your cyber defenses and help you plug them. There is always room for improvement.

A full audit will include a review of your cybersecurity documentation, associate readiness, data management, network policies, and more. Once complete, you’ll get a report that details strengths and weaknesses, along with recommendations to improve security going forward.

7. Hire Cybersecurity Experts

Cybersecurity is a specialized field. There are now undergraduate degree programs specifically for cybersecurity. You could consider hiring an expert for your company. Nevertheless, cybersecurity experts command high salaries. Another solution is to consider using a managed cybersecurity services provider. Companies like these allow you to outsource your cybersecurity needs and put them in the hands of experts in the field at a fraction of the cost.

Contact Edafio to learn more about how we can help you manage your cloud data and keep it secure.

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