It’s a long held belief that data stored on-premises is a lot more secure than storing that data in the public cloud. However, that may not be the case. While cloud security concerns have been around as long as cloud computing has existed, cloud providers have gone to great lengths to address them, improving their own security features. That’s not to mention that many of the security breaches reported in the news the past few years have been from on-premise data storage. The public cloud has proven, in many cases, to be a safer option than on-premises solutions, one of the many reasons the cloud has gained in popularity within the business community. Such a declaration by no means indicates the cloud is guaranteed to keep your data safe. Before taking your most sensitive information to a cloud provider, the wisest course of action would be to consider the following tips and implement them as needed.
1. Encryption is a Must
No security plan for big data in the cloud is complete without first encrypting that data. There are two common ways to go about doing this. The first is to encrypt the data yourself before ever sending it to the cloud. By encrypting that data, you not only keep it safe from possible hackers and cyber attacks, you also keep it safe from cloud providers themselves in case they were to access your files. As long as you keep the encryption key safe, your data should be well protected. The other way to encrypt is through cloud vendors. Many vendors offer their own encryption services, which is particularly valuable for protecting data at rest. Using both methods is an excellent strategy if you’re not sure how much protection you need.
2. Don’t Overlook Passwords
One of the first line of defenses against a data breach is the password, but sadly it is too often overlooked by individuals and companies alike. Just look at the most common passwords used in 2015: “123456”, “password”, “12345678”, and “qwerty”. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for hackers to figure those passwords out within seconds. If your password is ridiculously easy to guess, it won’t matter what other types of security features you or your cloud provider use. Make sure your passwords are strong, containing multiple different characters, numbers, and symbols. And don’t use the same password for every account. This advice should also be used by employees, who are often lax about passwords themselves.
Organizations can take further steps to minimize bad passwords by always opting for Single Sign-On (SSO) when setting up new accounts. SAML and other SSO technologies can help simplify accessing tools for employees and makes it easy for administrators to quickly add and remove employee access to company data.
3. Know the Terms and Conditions
When choosing a cloud provider, due diligence and research is always needed. A cloud vendor may tout its security features, but talk is cheap. The real story always lies in the fine print. The terms and conditions you agree to when using a cloud provider dictates how data is handled, who has access to it, and what happens in case of emergency. With the proper amount of research done beforehand, you won’t get caught by any surprises regarding your data’s security.
4. Limit Data Access
Speaking of data access, having all of your information on the cloud open to everybody isn’t always the best choice. That’s why you should limit access to certain types of data depending on the people who actually need it. Research teams in your company don’t always need access to marketing data, and human resources employees don’t always need the latest revenue reports. Limiting access keeps data in the right hands at the right times. By controlling and managing that process, you also limit the potential of data leaks and breaches.
5. Always Create a Backup
Cloud computing data security isn’t just about preventing a cyber attack. Disasters, accidents, and emergencies happen all the time. Creating a backup of your most sensitive data means that any disruptions in cloud service won’t seriously affect your operations. It also helps prevent significant data loss which can happen from time to time. Always plan for the worst possible scenarios while making sure your business is operating efficiently in the cloud.
It’s clear that cloud computing isn’t going anywhere. Services of all kinds, from software to big data analytics, are now available to anyone willing to try them out. While the cloud has become much safer for storing and processing data, it’s important not to take anything for granted. Take these steps to protect your data, and your be able to use the cloud with confidence.
To learn more about how Qubole handles data security, download our security brief.