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Cloud Security Best Practices: Guide for SMBs to Ensure Data Protection

Last updated: 24 Mar 2024

Cloud technology has provided small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with opportunities to expand their operations and improve productivity. It allows access to business intelligence services at a minimum cost, thereby helping SMBs get a competitive edge. With that, SMBs are placing more workloads in the cloud to bolster IT capabilities without breaking the bank.

However, protecting business data in the cloud remains a critical concern as cybercriminals perceive SMBs to be easier targets with weaker security measures.

With the increasing use of cloud-based applications and platforms, cloud security is now essential in keeping data private and safe, and in ensuring uninterrupted business operations. In fact, 63% of SMB workloads are hosted using public cloud services, and 62% of SMB data are stored in the cloud. By 2025, Gartner predicts that 95% of all digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms.

Given the vast volumes of data that businesses handle every day, including sensitive customer data, financial records, and proprietary business data—robust security measures must be put in place. Securing these cloud systems is not a one-man job; it’s not only the responsibility of an IT person or department but will require a concerted effort from everyone in the organization.

 

7 Best Practices and Tips for Cloud Security

In this article, we share the best practices for implementing security measures to protect your business data and applications in the cloud. Proactively reducing risks not only saves you countless dollars from a potential security breach, but most importantly, it helps maintain the trust of your business partners and customers.

1. Uphold Shared Responsibility

When storing, accessing or sharing data using cloud services, both the provider and you, as the user, share the responsibility for data security. You need to understand your specific responsibilities to ensure data security.

The cloud service provider secures the underlying infrastructure, including servers, networks, and storage systems. They implement security methods such as firewalls, encryption, and access controls to protect their infrastructure from unauthorized access and cyberattacks.

On the other hand, you’re responsible for protecting your data and managing access controls. These data security measures can be implemented using strong passwords, encrypting sensitive data, monitoring access logs, and regularly backing up data. However, you can work with managed cloud providers for easier cloud security management.

2. Implement Data Governance Policies

To ensure appropriate access and protection, data governance policies should establish clear guidelines for classifying data based on its sensitivity and importance. For instance, sensitive data such as financial records, personal information, and healthcare records should be classified as confidential and have stricter access controls and encryption.

3. Set up Robust Access Controls

Another pro-tip for cloud data security is to implement robust access controls and adhere to the ‘least privilege’ principle. This principle dictates that users should only be granted access to the data required to perform their job duties. 

Access control can be implemented using two primary methods: Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) and Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC). In RBAC, permissions are assigned based on predefined roles and responsibilities of users. On the other hand, ABAC systems consider various attributes such as user roles, location, time of access, and device type to make dynamic access decisions based on predefined policies and contextual factors.

Regularly review and update access permissions to ensure they remain accurate and aligned with current business needs.

4. Use Strong Authentication Methods

While passwords have long been relied upon as the primary means of securing sensitive data, they are increasingly vulnerable to theft or compromise. As a result, businesses are urged to bolster their security measures with a more robust solution like multi-factor authentication (MFA) which requires multiple verification methods, like passwords and mobile app codes. With this added layer of security, unauthorized access will be unlikely.

Stepping up your cyber defense further, you can also embrace passwordless technologies like facial recognition or fingerprints. It eliminates the need for passwords and leverages biometric data or mobile applications to verify users’ identities. For instance, recent facial recognition technology has algorithms that can now achieve error rates of less than 1%, rendering unauthorized access virtually impossible.

5. Encrypt Data in Transit and at Rest

Encryption safeguards your data’s confidentiality and integrity by converting it into an unreadable format to prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing it without the appropriate decryption keys. Your data should be encrypted both when it is stored or at rest, and when it is being transferred to ensure its confidentiality and integrity.

However, securing your encryption keys is just as important as encryption itself. Without proper management, anyone with access to the keys could decrypt your data, potentially compromising its confidentiality and integrity. Strict key management policies should be in place, such as limiting access to your keys, storing them in secure locations, and changing them regularly. It is also important to regularly back up your encryption keys to avoid data loss in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

6. Practice Security Hygiene

Prioritize regular updates for all software and applications by applying patches to address known vulnerabilities.

To further enhance cloud data security, educate your team on cybersecurity best practices. You can conduct security awareness training to raise awareness and encourage responsible data handling. This training should help them identify and avoid common threats like phishing attacks.

Moreover, regularly review your security measures to ensure they are up-to-date and meet your business needs. Include in your review an assessment of your software and hardware systems, access controls, and data backups to identify and address vulnerabilities and stay ahead of emerging cybersecurity threats.

7. Develop a Disaster Risk and Recovery Plan

Prepare for potential data breaches or disasters by having a comprehensive plan in place that includes strategies for data recovery and continuity. Analyze potential risks and vulnerabilities, then develop strategies to prevent and mitigate their effects.

In addition, you should also create contingency plans for data recovery and continuity in case a risk does happen. This plan should outline steps for responding to a security incident, including identifying the source, isolating affected systems, and restoring data from backups promptly. Having a comprehensive disaster risk and recovery plan ensures that you are prepared to respond quickly and effectively to unexpected incidents.

 


BlackPoint IT offers affordable, tailored cloud solutions based on your needs and budget. We’ll be your trusted partner throughout your cloud journey, providing ongoing support, expert guidance, and proactive threat detection to ensure your data remains secure. Ready to build a secure and successful cloud presence? Contact BlackPoint IT today for a free consultation and discuss your cloud security strategy!

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