How to keep your cloud data secure

In the past few years, ‘how to keep your cloud data secure’ has been a dominant topic in IT. Every year, more and more organizations make the decision to move their critical IT infrastructure and data to the cloud, and statistics prove that it’s not about to slow down. If you’re not already in the cloud- you will be.

A recent study conducted by Logic Monitor suggests:

  • By the year 2020, the cloud will drive 83% of enterprise workloads

The study also predicts that half of global enterprises will be using at least one cloud platform to achieve digital transformation and customer satisfaction.

This move is motivated by the cloud’s known capabilities and benefits which promise:

  • Productivity
  • Efficiently
  • Flexibility
  • Profitability
  • Agility

However, every technology has its benefits and drawbacks. In this case, the downfall lies with lack of security when organizations are not migrated to the cloud properly.

We hear countless horror stories about sensitive data being compromised in the cloud – including health records, election data, and more!

Regardless of the horror stories, collective trust in the cloud is increasing due to the considerable performance improvements post cloud migration.

The cloud is now a hotspot for storing important data.

So, the question that naturally arises is:

How secure is my data when it’s stored in the cloud?

By following the below four tips, you will avoid falling into the security pitfalls that can come with a cloud migration.

  1. Be careful when storing sensitive information in the virtual world

You’re not paranoid, identity theft is on the rise. That being said, it’s important to be aware of storing any personal identifiable information (PII) that can be easily retrieved without security protocols in place, such as:

  • Credit card numbers
  • Passwords for various online accounts
  • Social security numbers
  • Home addresses
  • Mortgage information

At most, a good portion of your highly sensitive data (like listed above) won’t have to be frequently accessed when using virtual solutions, like the cloud.

However, if you wish to store information virtually, the first step is to choose a cloud provider that fits your needs.

Some questions to ask while on your search for a cloud provider to ensure your data will be secure are:

  • What are their security standards appropriate?
  • How is access shared with my cloud folders?
  • What are my options if my cloud provider loses my data or should be hacked?

By asking these above questions, you will mitigate the added risk that your information may be vulnerable to potentially other people who you do not wish to have access.

Now that we have that settled, let’s move to the next three tips to ensure security over your cloud data. Specifically, encryption before you upload personal information to the cloud.

  1. Encrypt your data

Encryption is one of the best, easiest, and most important ways to secure your data when using cloud storage services.

What does encryption do, exactly?

An encrypted service provides an additional layer of security because it requires decryption before a user is granted access to data.

For example, if you have a data sensitive file you want to move to the cloud, you will use an encrypted software that enables you to create a password to access the file. After a password is created, you will move the password-protected file to the cloud. Then, no one will have access to see the contents within that file without knowing the password. Easy enough, right?

When searching for a cloud service, it’s important to know that the connection to the cloud is encrypted, NOT the actual data. Most of the time, data remains unencrypted on the cloud but can be encrypted by utilizing a third-party tool.

Here are a few third-party software tools that will do the job, including:

  • BitLocker
  • Symantec Endpoint Encryption
  • Cypherix Cryptainer

These various software tools will accomplish the encryption and will permit you to create passwords to your files before you upload them to the cloud.

You may come to realize that syncing your files to the cloud may take a little longer due to the supplementary step of encrypting and decrypting your data. But, if your business has mostly sensitive data and its data needs to be stored in the cloud, then going through that additional step for extra reassurance will be worth it in the long run.

  1. Use public Wi-Fi with caution!

The security of your cloud data depends on your online behavior. When you’re in the comfort of your home, accessing the internet isn’t something we normally have to worry about. It’s secure, easy to connect to, and uncongested. It becomes a different story when we venture out into the public and want to stay connected.

Public Wi-Fi is innately less secure than our personal networks.

We don’t know who else is connected to it or who set it up. Additionally, public Wi-Fi connections are mostly unencrypted. You’re better off not connecting to it at all. If you must connect, you can limit your exposure to the risk of hackers accessing your data by following these simple tips:

  1. Do not save any passwords while on public connections or computers
  2. Make sure you are logged out of your accounts after you are done
  3. Limit AirDrop and file sharing
  4. Use a VPN, which encrypts your data that’s traveling to and from your device
  5. Stick to sites with HTTPS, as this confirms that a site you’re visiting is secure

Be aware of your behavior when you’re online in a public, there are many ways that hackers or those with bad intentions can access your personal information.

  1. Use strong passwords

This is a common tip that you’ve most likely heard over a hundred times- yet, people don’t follow it.

According to a statistic reported by ISACA:

  • 90% of all passwords can be cracked within seconds.

If it didn’t happen to you directly, then you probably know someone who got their account hacked because of an easy to create and easy-to-remember password.

Additionally, duplicating your email password for other accounts is a dangerous trap because your login information is all linked to one email account, this is true for things such as:

  • Social media accounts
  • Cloud storage accounts
  • Virtual wallets

Here’s an effective way to create a strong password (and remember it):

  1. Make it long – at least 10-15 characters, more if possible. There’s no general consensus for a minimum password length. However, the longer the better.
  2. Use a mix of characters – including various symbols, numbers, capital and lower-case letters
  3. Avoid obvious substitutions – password hackers are notorious when it comes to working around typical substitutions. For example, the words like “house” or “window” is weak and easy to crack.
  4. Refrain from using memorable keyword paths – These password sequences are among the first type of passwords to be cracked. For example, paths such as “123456” or “zxcvbn” are serious no-noes.

Conclusion

As cloud storage becomes more mainstream, so will the need for knowledge. It’s critical to keep our most precious data secure, and that we stay informed and aware.

Making sure your data is as secure as possible must be a top priority, as cloud technology and overall reliance on them becomes the norm, and the associated risks continue to evolve.

Remember to invest in trusted and proved solutions, as well as providers when putting your personal and corporate data in an outside company’s hands.

If you want to keep your data safe, follow the above tips or give us a call today!

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can help you prepare your environment for the cloud, make sure to check out our eBook: Essential guide to preparing your network for the cloud

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