The adoption of cloud storage and services is ever-increasing. Companies upload sensitive information on cloud servers where it can be accessed by multiple users from multiple locations using multiple devices. Enterprise Cloud security involves several technologies and practices designed to ensure only authorized users have access to specific data on the cloud. Here are eight security tips for cloud security administrators to help secure their cloud infrastructure.
1. Employ Multi-factor Authentication
Traditionally user authentication has been done with a username and password. Unfortunately, the usernames are easy to discover. Since passwords can be difficult to remember, users choose simple ones or use the same password at different websites.
Bad actors are constantly developing new methods to compromise accounts and gain access to networks. Once an attacker gains access to users’ credentials, they can gain access to cloud-based applications and sensitive information.
MFA alleviates password concerns by requiring users to input a code sent to their phone or computer in addition to entering a password. Deploying MFA ensures that only authorized personnel can log in and access critical resources. Microsoft states MFA stops 99.9% of automated hacking attempts.
2. Set Stronger Passwords
If users were left to their own devices, they are likely to set simple passwords for multiple accounts. According to research by NordPass, the word “password” is still the most popular and misused password across most industries.
As per the latest NIST digital identity guidelines, the length of the password (rather than its complexity) is a crucial security measure. All user-generated passwords must be at least 8 characters in length. The guidelines also suggest locking users out of password-protected programs if they use an incorrect password multiple times.
As organizations adopt a hybrid working model, many employees work remotely and several assets are placed on the cloud, depending on the perimeter approach–VPNs and firewalls–is less effective and more susceptible to a data breach.
A zero-trust security model ensures data and resources remain inaccessible by default. It works by assuming that every connection and every endpoint is considered a threat.
To successfully implement a zero trust architecture, cloud security as well as other security teams across the organization must agree on priorities and align on access policies.
4. Deploy an Identity and Access Management Solution
Leading threat prevention tools are capable of recognizing applications that proceed through the networks and determining if they should be permitted. This type of security is still needed in cloud-native environments, but is no longer sufficient all by itself.
Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a cloud service that controls the permissions and access to users and cloud resources. IAM policies are a set of permission policies to authorize what users access and what they can do with it.
For instance, security admins can use IAM platforms to grant the least amount of permission needed for a user to carry out a particular task. In case a user or resource is compromised, the threat’s damage is limited.
5. Create Backup
Data is always at risk. Companies need to ensure no data is lost in case of a security incident. Security admins should regularly create backups of sensitive data on common backup solutions such as removable media, external hard drives, or backup services.
If something happens to the cloud data, the organization has a replacement copy on standby.
6. Conduct Audits and Penetration Testing
Organizations should conduct regular audits to analyze the capabilities of all partner vendors. This should help cloud security teams confirm that vendors are delivering the agreed upon security terms.
Cloud penetration testing is designed to assess the vulnerabilities of a cloud system to improve its overall security level. Penetration testing can be classified into two categories: external and internal.
External penetration testing highlights potential threats from outside the network, such as attacks on exposed web applications. Internal penetration testing mimics an attack from inside the organization’s network and applications.
Users with ‘insider’ access as well as application updates carry a potential risk of a security breach.
7. Train Users
Users are the first line of defense in cloud computing security. Cloud security teams should conduct training programs on security threats, such as phishing. According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2022, phishing was the second most common attack vector, costing companies $4.65 million.
As a best practice, train all users on how to spot phishing emails, malware, and the risk of insecure practices. For advanced users, such as administrators, consider industry-specific training or certification.
8. Secure Workstations and Laptops
Another crucial element for enterprise cloud security is to secure workstations. Cloud computing is growing rapidly among users but introduces new security threats too.
The rising popularity of macOS–often assumed to be less vulnerable to the effects of malware and cyberattacks than Windows–has led to macOS becoming a target of Mac-focused attacks in recent years.
Admins need to equally focus on Macs and Windows operating systems with the same response speed for security.
Cloud security is under threat when remote workers access data from their laptops or desktops. The best defense is to apply security policies on all devices. Leverage MDM technology for isolating corporate information, securing email messages, and monitoring enterprise applications and data.
Enterprise cloud security is a shared responsibility between cloud security teams and the entire organization. Implementing best practices and cloud security tools ensures organizations are protected from reputational, financial, and legal ramifications of data breaches and data loss.
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