One of the biggest myths concerning the modern-day state of the Internet is that the cloud is some impenetrable fortress where all your private data can be stored forever without risk of theft or exposure.
What the cloud actually is? Well that’s a far cry from the truth. The cloud is simply a lot of servers with a whole lot of room built remotely from your location. The most cloud-like attribute they possess is that you can’t actually touch them from where you are, except for your own data of course.
While companies that provide cloud environments for hosting, storage, and every other device under the sun often have extremely robust security systems in place, they are far from impregnable. In fact, the most important features of cloud security come at the user end, in how they prepare their data and the steps they take in safeguarding it.
If you’re looking to ensure your data stays as safe as possible once it’s making its home in the cloud, here are eight tips that you should take to heart.
- Have local redundancies of the data you’re putting in the cloud:
This might seem like you’re defeating the purpose of having the cloud environment in the first place, but any business is no better than its backup and disaster plan. What happens when a winter storm knocks out power at your cloud company’s base? Backing up your data is just like having insurance policies on your car or home. The day don’t have it is the day you’ll need it.
- Use a cloud service that encrypts data: This should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately there are still cloud-hosting services that don’t offer encryption. This means one lost password or open port and hackers are looking at your real company data without having to even try to decrypt it. Check the Terms of Service of your cloud provider to make sure its a part of the deal; never assume.
- Encrypt your data before you send it to the cloud: Yes, that’s two sets of encryption, assuming both you and the cloud-hosting provider do your jobs right. Why the extra layer? For starters, it guarantees you’ve got at least one in case your provider forgets or simply doesn’t offer it. Secondly, you’re are giving yourself a layer of protection against internal leaks at the company you’re using it. If an employee decides to make some extra change by selling decryption codes on the dark web or there’s an existing flaw in the cloud environment, your data will remain air tight.
- Antivirus software: Having quality antivirus software should be your first step in any endeavor, but particularly when you have a portal to your cloud environment. All manner of malware are designed specifically to record your credentials and send them on to their point of origin to be sold to the highest bidder.
- Stay away from storing sensitive information: Again this may seem a bit counterproductive, but your main goal in using cloud storage should be to house data that is frequently used but grand in size. Big data is the perfect fit for this. From a sheer business standpoint, you’re putting the most valuable customer data you have into an environment that you cannot 100% control when you use the cloud. Use it sparingly on the important stuff.
- Always read the ToS: As mentioned in point #2 above, check out the fine print before you whisk your data off onto the cloud. You’ll usually find some really curious wording there, such as that your data might be store at an alternate site to the really high-security one or that an alarmingly large number of people will have access to your data.
- Use Two-Factor Authorization: 2FA is the easiest security upgrade you’ll ever make. Instead of just a password, you add in another way to identify who you are – as simple as an SMS message or a predetermined code.
- Pay attention to what you do and say online: Are you broadcasting your choice of cloud provider via social media or sending yourself login credentials via email? Stop at once. Remember how unsecure the Internet is and guard against dangerous situations.