Today’s business landscape is very different from what it was several years ago. Modern businesses are agile, technology-driven, and reliant on the ability to operate efficiently in remote work environments. Digital transformations and cloud deployments have helped to expedite this movement and continue to be a catalyst for growth.
But while cloud services and supporting technology have unlocked a number of business benefits, they also have opened up a new set of business security challenges. Thankfully, there are several practical tips that businesses can take to protect themselves when operating on the cloud.
Create stronger passwords using passphrases
Cloud services and business solutions are designed with user authentication in mind. That being said, ensuring your user credentials are highly secure is critical to minimizing the likelihood of unauthorized persons accessing your personal data or company information.
One way to help manage passwords securely is to use a password manager or privileged access management solution. Password managers are tools that store, generate, and track passwords for you automatically. They can also help you create strong passwords and protect them with high-level encryption secured within a vault.
With a password manager, you only need to remember one master password and the rest of your accounts are stored in an encrypted vault. As an added precaution, many password managers offer multi-factor authentication (MFA) to further protect your accounts by requiring an additional verification step, such as a code sent to your mobile phone before accessing your credentials. For businesses it is better to go further beyond a password manager and use a privileged access management solution that includes password management features but provides stronger integrations and automation.
Instead of passwords, start using long passphrases — basically a random combination of words with some complexity. The key to a strong passphrase is length.
Keep software updated
Outdated software, whether managed on-premises or in the cloud, can be a dangerous problem to have for a business. Most cyberattacks occur due to exploits found in outdated software or firmware that were never properly patched in a timely manner.
One way businesses can minimize the risk associated with this is by adopting a strong patch management strategy. A well-defined and documented patch management strategy includes building a dedicated team or assigning specific individuals the responsibility of using industry-approved patching tools to identify vulnerable software and apply the necessary updates.
Another way to ensure the software is kept up to date is through automation. Automation tools are designed to scan the environment for any outdated applications and will automatically install the required updates without the need for manual intervention. This can be a great way to simplify the patch management process and minimize any potential vulnerabilities.
Encrypt your data
Business data is a hot commodity in cloud environments, and it’s important that companies protect it at all times. One effective way to do this is by encrypting all of your data. This way, even if a malicious attacker is able to gain access to the information, it will essentially be useless without the proper encryption key.
Third-party encryption solutions as well as cloud provider encryption services offered by popular cloud platforms, can be used to keep your data secure. When encrypting data, it is also important to ensure that the encryption keys are securely stored so that they cannot be compromised or stolen.
Implement proper access controls
With the rise of remote working in modern business environments as well as a strong dependence on cloud-based services, implementing proper access controls is essential. Applying the principle of “least privileged access,” or granting only the minimum required level of access to any given resource, can help protect your data from malicious actors.
If an employee needs access to certain data or applications, they should first be authenticated and verified before being granted access only to the resource they need, and only for as long as it takes to complete the task.
As part of this security defense, organizations should also monitor access logs and user activities and a regular basis to search for any anomalies that could point to potential security threats.
Partner with reputable cloud service providers
As businesses move to the cloud, there are a number of cloud providers to choose from. It’s vital that your business takes the time to research and select partners with a solid reputation for reliable service and security protocols. A reputable cloud provider will ensure that your data is backed up on a regular basis and can be quickly recovered should disaster strike.
When selecting a cloud service provider, look for one with a proven track record of successful implementations and positive reviews from other customers. Taking the time to find the right partner now could save you time and costly security issues down the road.
Make sure your cloud deployments are secure and compliant
In order to keep your business safe and secure in the cloud, it is essential that you take the necessary steps to protect your data. By implementing multi-factor authentication, creating strong passphrases, using a privileged access management solution, regularly updating software, encrypting data, applying proper access controls and partnering with reputable cloud service providers, businesses can ensure their deployments remain secure and meet all necessary compliance regulations.
Joseph Carson is a cybersecurity professional with more than 25 years’ experience in enterprise security and infrastructure. Currently, Carson is the Chief Security Scientist & Advisory CISO at Delinea. He is an active member of the cybersecurity community and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Carson is also a cybersecurity adviser to several governments, critical infrastructure organizations, and financial and transportation industries, and speaks at conferences globally.