Cloud Storage Security: How to Keep Data Safe in the Cloud?

Cloud-based storage is suitable for many businesses to adopt these days. After all, cloud storage vendors offer unparalleled operational agility, speed, efficiency, flexibility, and productivity in their services. However, as with any other technology on the market, it has its advantages and disadvantages.

See Also: PCI Compliance in the Cloud

One of the most important aspects of cloud security is ensuring that only approved personnel, such as you and your staff, have access to cloud-stored documents and data. Ultimately, the responsibility for securing your cloud lies between you and the cloud storage vendor.

Suppose you eventually plan to adopt cloud storage for your business. In that case, you must take measures to protect your data through secure passwords and two-factor authentication and limit and control the access of others who find your sensitive data.

See Also: What is Security as a Service (SECaaS)

One of the reasons to switch to the cloud, as you might know, is to benefit from sharing flexibility while keeping your data secure. Cloud storage providers back up, secure, and handle the information from afar.

However, you must take a few measures to ensure that the cloud provider you choose will ensure the protection of your data. Security and safety issues abound when it comes to the cloud, particularly given the public’s distrust of technology behemoths.

Security fundamentals are the same regardless of which cloud storage service you use. Data must also be secured, users must be approved and authenticated, and access and operation must be controlled. Security risks such as data breaches, theft of accounts, misuse of information, and unauthorized access can put your business at risk.

See Also: Cloud Security Checklist

Before we dive into the most important things you should know about cloud security, let’s first consider how it works.

What is Cloud Security?

The collection of policies, technologies, apps, and applications that protect your personal and professional data stored electronically is known as cloud protection. Cloud data protection secures your cloud infrastructure without hardware maintenance costs by enforcing the rigor of on-premises data centers.

See Also: Best Practices for Cloud Security

Cloud computing allows IT management simpler by allowing users to access and track data in the cloud using apps and applications. Also, the right cloud provider makes it easy for teams and organizations to store data and scale quickly securely.

How Does Secure Cloud Storage Work?

Cloud-based solutions are increasingly in demand worldwide and include everything from secure data storage to entire business processes.

Cloud-based security providers are responsible for keeping the data safe and secure. Vendors restrict unwanted access by providing encryption that secures data stored in the cloud and offers various access controls. They also provide data recovery and backup options in case of any data loss.

See Also: How do I Protect the Stored Payment Cardholder Data?

Cloud-based internet protection is a data storage solution that is outsourced. Users save data on Internet-connected servers rather than on local hard drives. Data Centers manage these servers to keep data and access secure.

Businesses are turning to cloud storage solutions to solve various problems. For example, small businesses use the cloud to reduce costs. Besides, IT professionals are referring to the cloud as the best way to store sensitive data.

In short, every time you access remotely stored files, you access a cloud. Email is the best example. Most email users do not bother to save emails on their devices because they are connected to the internet.

See Also: What are the Security Impacts of Public Cloud?

See Also: What are the Security Impacts of Private Cloud?

To store and process your online data, cloud providers and cloud storage services use a network of interconnected, secure data centers. Every cloud solution uses models customized according to user needs, whether SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS. The three common cloud types are:

  • Public clouds – Cloud resources such as hardware, storage, and network devices are owned and operated by a third-party cloud service provider and served on the web. The most popular cloud is the public cloud, which is used for email, office software, and online storage.
  • Private clouds – Resources for cloud computing are used only by one organization. Private clouds may be operated by a third-party cloud service provider or physically stored in an on-premises data center. Still, the cloud infrastructure is kept in a private network with dedicated hardware and software.
  • Hybrid clouds – As the name suggests, hybrid clouds combine a private cloud with a public cloud. In a hybrid cloud, data and applications can switch between private and public clouds for greater versatility and distribution options.

Encrypting Data in Transmission and Storage

Data traffic is routed to the security cloud to implement data protection, where it is filtered before it reaches the application system. During the transfer process, cloud storage vendors use the TLS protocol to protect your files from eavesdropping. It uses a password, authentication, and key exchange to secure a connection.

When data leaves this secure channel, it is decrypted. Therefore, when your data reaches the provider’s server, it can become accessible by a hacker or a rogue employee. The provider may re-encrypt your data before storing it on their drives; this is called standby encryption. However, since the cloud service provider has access to the encryption keys for your files, they or someone who gains access to the keys will be able to decrypt them.

Client-Side Data Encryption

There are many encryption algorithms on the market these days, from the old DES to the new AES. These encryption methods use sophisticated algorithms to protect and hide data. These approaches are used by cloud-based vendors to handle data identity and restrict access from unidentified applications attempting to access encrypted information.

As you probably guessed, AES is the newest and most secure encryption algorithm. It provides several security levels depending on the key length, which can be 128, 192, or 256 bits. 256 bit is the safest on the market, and as far as we know, no one has managed to crack it.

Although most cloud services only use encryption at rest, client-side encryption is the only way to ensure the protection of your files. Encryption and decryption take place on the user’s computer with client-side or end-to-end encryption. Files uploaded to the cloud are never decrypted on the provider’s servers since they do not have encryption keys. The client-side encryption method means that even if fraudulent workers or hackers manage to access the provider’s servers, they will not be able to decrypt your files.

Zero-Knowledge Authentication

Others can’t read or access your data if you use zero-knowledge authentication. You’ll get a key access password if you use this form of authentication. This ensures the provider does not keep encryption keys or user passwords in an unencrypted or unaltered state. Therefore, it ensures that even the developers of the provider cannot access your content.

The downside of this approach is that if you lose your password, your data will be permanently lost as the service provider cannot reset your password for you. It is recommended that you use a password manager to reduce the risk. Whatever you do, make sure you have a good password that you can recall.

Few cloud storage providers on the market are adopting zero-knowledge authentication methods as part of their security features.

Two-Factor Authentication

The two-factor authentication tool adds an additional layer of protection to your account, making it more difficult for hackers to steal your credentials. After signing in with your password and using two-factor authentication, you’ll need to enter a separate code from another channel.

There are several ways to get the code. You can get the second-factor code via email, phone call, or SMS. The two-factor authentication method complicates the hacking process as they need another verification method to access your account.

Content Control

Most cloud storage services let you share your data with others by creating links to directories or files or by inviting others to collaborate. One of the key advantages of cloud storage, however, is that you can share it with others while limiting and monitoring the content you share.

There are many ways to control your content correctly. You can apply folder permissions and expiration dates and much more by creating password-protected links.

Ransomware Protection

A ransomware attack can cause severe damage to your business. Ransomware is a type of malware attack created by hackers to search for and encrypt your sensitive data. If you want to get your data files back, you have to pay a ransom to the hackers to get a decryption key from them. Therefore, it is best to work with cloud storage vendors that offer ransomware protection services or perform well against them.

To battle ransomware, most cloud storage services have versioning solutions. However, each cloud storage vendor’s implementation of this solution is unique. Some, for example, provide unlimited versioning, while the majority of the rest only provide 15 or 30 days of version info.

How Safe Is Cloud Storage?

All files stored on protected cloud servers have a higher degree of security. The security credential that most users are familiar with is the password. However, cloud storage security vendors protect data in other ways as well. Some of the ways to protect data in the cloud include:

  • Advanced Firewalls: All Firewall types examine the data packets transmitted. Simple firewalls analyze the only source and target data. Advanced firewalls verify the package contents’ integrity and then map the package content to known security threats.
  • Intrusion Detection: Many users can use online encrypted storage at the same time. Identifying those attempting to hack into the system is necessary for effective cloud protection systems. Multiple levels of detection allow cloud vendors to stop even intruders from breaking the network’s initial defense.
  • Event Log: Event logs help security analysts understand threats by logging network actions. Analysts use this data to create a narrative about network events. Reports help them anticipate and prevent security breaches.
  • Built-in Firewalls: Not all accounts should have full access to data stored in the cloud. Limiting secure cloud access through built-in firewalls increases security. Built-in firewalls ensure that even a compromised account cannot gain full access.
  • Encryption: Encryption protects data from unauthorized users. Without a secret key, an intruder who steals an encrypted file would be denied access. Encrypted cloud data is worthless to those who don’t have the key.
  • Physical Security: Cloud data centers provide a high degree of security. For each of the physical security variables, various cloud providers take different approaches, and cloud data centers are typically more secure than any on-premises data center. Data centers that are accredited have 24-hour security, fingerprint locks, and armed guards. Some cloud storage services, for example, keep track of their users’ encryption keys. Others give their users the encryption keys.

The best cloud infrastructure is based on achieving the ideal balance between user access and security. If you trust users with their keys, users may inadvertently pass the keys to an unauthorized person.

Employee training helps organizations protect cloud data successfully. Working users often do not know how cloud computing works. There are many different ways to configure a cloud security framework.

The user must follow the directions specified in the cloud security policy while using the cloud. Users must undergo a safety awareness training program in order for a security device to be complete. Even the most robust protection device would not be able to compensate for irresponsible users.

What Are Cloud Data Security Risks?

Security breaches are rarely caused by inadequate cloud data protection. According to researches, more than 40% of data security violations are caused by employee error. To make cloud storage

safer, boost user protection.

User protection in cloud storage is influenced by a number of factors, the majority of which are related to employee training:

  • Authentication: Weak passwords are the most common corporate security vulnerability. Many employees write their passwords on paper. Multi-factor authentication can solve this problem.
  • Awareness: Every job in the modern office is a cybersecurity job. Employees should know why safety is so important and should be trained in safety awareness. Users must know how criminals get into corporate systems. Users should be aware of the most common attack vectors.
  • Anti-Phishing: Phishing scams remain the most common cyberattack vector. Phishing attacks try to compromise user emails and passwords. Attackers can then advance through business systems to gain access to more sensitive files.
  • Breach Exercises: Simulating data breaches can help employees identify and prevent phishing attacks. Users can also improve response times when actual violations occur. Breach exercises create protocols to address suspicious activity and provide feedback to users.
  • Measurement: The results of data breach exercises should inform future performance. Practice is perfect only if analysts measure the results and find ways to improve them. Measure the results of simulation exercises and employee training to maximize the security of cloud storage.

What are Cloud Storage Security Solutions and Best Practices?

Most companies worldwide are adopting cloud storage because of its scalability, availability, and less IT overhead, making cloud storage cheaper. Despite its simplicity, cloud storage security is now a concern in many organizations. Employees can access organization data from anywhere and because staff can also use any device to access data.

Compared to locally implemented hardware, cloud storage is much cheaper, thus affordable. However, storing confidential and sensitive files exposes your business to new risks because the cloud is outside of the protection limits you would impose on your premises for data protection. In other words, cloud storage is partially out of your control.

Cloud-connected office technologies have increased the dependence of industries on cloud technology, regardless of security risks. Simultaneously, the more devices connected to the internet, the higher the risk of unwanted leaks or compromises.

Cloud storage and exchanging files that do not follow security requirements or are not licensed by the IT department pose the greatest threat to cloud security. Employees may either deliberately or unintentionally compromise the protection of confidential company data.

Fortunately, even while using the cloud, there are ways to enhance the data security. Below you can find essential security solutions for cloud storage.

1. Keep sensitive data away from the cloud

Keep sensitive data away from the cloud or sandbox, as no cloud storage can guarantee 100 percent security. Organizations that choose cloud storage services have more threat risk than those who store their files locally. Remove any sensitive data you intend to store in the cloud. Limit sensitive data to storage within your control.

2. Establish Effective Password Management

Your IT department’s roles include managing multiple accounts of employees, and managing various accounts makes it difficult to develop a seamless security framework for your organization. However, strong passwords that are developed and managed with password management tools will help.

Strong passwords require a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols in no particular order. Change your passwords regularly and when an employee leaves, as your code of ethics no longer binds them.

End users should create passwords that are difficult to guess but easy to remember. If you want to keep track of many passwords, consider software services that create and store passwords. Do not store them on a computer, and remember the master passwords you create.

3. Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Using multi-factor authentication is more secure to prevent passwords from being stolen, misplaced, and compromised. Multi-factor authentication requires another factor besides your username and password to verify your identity. The third factor could be a separately created voice analysis, unique code, or fingerprint that is only accessible to the user. All of these are effective in strengthening data security as they keep intruders away.

4. Use Encryption

Consider fully encrypting your data while it is stored and transmitted. According to cybersecurity experts, encrypting data at the source is the most safe process. Make sure you manage the encryption keys yourself.

Use end-to-end encryption when transmitting data to strengthen security, but data in transit is secured with the advent of SDN by virtualizing the network. For security, store all your interactions with your CSP’s server over SSL / TLS transmission.

Encryption enables you to comply with contractual obligations, legal requirements for processing sensitive data, and privacy policies for unused data. Encrypt data when you store it on cloud storage drives.

Also, be sure to encrypt the encryption keys with regularly returned master keys. CSP must provide level domain encryption and specify the fields you want to encrypt (such as CFP, SSN, credit number, and others).

5. Perform Rigorous and Ongoing Vulnerability Tests

The CSP you accept should use disaster and vulnerability response tools. The solutions in the response tool must fully support automated security assessments to test the system’s weakness. It also decreases the amount of time between critical security checks. Scans are carried out according to the schedule or demand.

6. Manage Access Using User-Level Data Security

It would help if you took advantage of the correct role-based access control (RBAC) features that allow setup for user-specific data editing permissions and access. Ideally, the system should enable access to the precise, controlled, and mandatory separation of duties within an organization. Access management helps maintain compliance with internal and external data security standards such as COBIT and HITRUST frameworks and PCI DSS.

7. Insist on Strict Compliance Certificates

The two most important certifications in the industry are:

  • SOC 2 Type II or SOC 2: Regulatory enforcement supervision, internal risk management procedures, and vendor management systems are all governed by this program. SOC 3 or SOC 2 certifies that a software service, such as CSP has been carefully developed and maintained to ensure the highest degree of protection.
  • PCI DSS: A SaaS provider goes through a thorough audit to ensure sensitive data is processed, transmitted, and stored in a completely secure and protected manner to obtain the PCI DSS certification. Versatile security standards include software design, policies, network architecture, procedures, and security management, among other critical protective measures.

8. Use of Defined Data Deletion Policy

Define and implement a clear data deletion policy with your customers. At the end of the customer’s data retention period, the data is deleted as defined in the contract, resulting in more storage space. It also prevents unauthorized access to information.

9. Use Data Backups

Keep in mind that cloud storage will not always replace data backup. When data is deleted from the cloud edge, it is also deleted from the local machine. Most cloud services do not provide perfect revision histories for files synced at boot time.

Use an online backup to protect against data loss. Here, multiple data backups, including those off-site, are essential. Online backup services update your data, often complementing it with detailed revisions. Store your data in a third-party data center and make sure it’s encrypted.

10. Employee Training and Awareness

It is important to educate staff about the risks associated with cloud adoption. Your employees should be accustomed to implementing strict security solutions that protect your data from unauthorized access and enforcement of cloud security policies. They should also be aware of cloud security. It is also essential to teach your employees the need to protect their passwords with secure storage and endpoint services. Employees must override sharing or careless typing of passwords.

Your company could suffer significant consequences if your data in the cloud is not properly secured. If you want to move to the cloud or store your data, consider how you can secure your data by researching and comparing different cloud vendors’ security promises.

Finally, here are some handy tips to keep in mind when it comes to securing your data in the cloud:

  • See if the cloud storage provider has adequate security policies in place. It would help if you did your research by reading the cloud storage provider’s security policies.
  • Take a good look at the user agreement to learn how your cloud storage service works. Ultimately, you will be storing your important data, so it’s imperative that you read the small print and not skip the details. If you do not understand or have questions, do not hesitate to contact customer service.
  • Stay up to date with helpful security guidelines and best practices recommended by the Cloud Security Alliance. CSA is a non-profit organization that sets out to promote the use of best practices to provide security assurance within cloud computing.
  • Create a strong and secure password that you will remember. Often, security loopholes are created by the users themselves. A weak password can ruin your company.

You’ll be well on your way to protecting your data in cloud storage if you can integrate these tips into your cloud protection approach and strategy. After all, cloud protection isn’t anything to take lightly. It’s time to streamline your cloud security.

As more companies adopt the cloud, cloud storage security is becoming a priority in IT architecture and information security strategies. Companies are becoming more aware of the need to safeguard their data as they allow their employees to benefit from the cloud’s performance and versatility. Just as new threats to data security emerge, organizations must be vigilant to keep their files safe.

You will share the cloud storage responsibility with your CSP. CSP is responsible for implementing basic protections such as authentication, encryption, and data access control processed on the platforms. You will eventually complement encryption with strengthened security to tighten access to sensitive information and enhance cloud data protection.

Surkay Baykarahttp://www.pcidssguide.com
A passionate Senior Information Security Consultant working at Biznet. Over the past 15+ years my professional career has included several positions beginning as a developer and IT administrator, working my way up to a senior Technical Performance Consultant before joining Biznet back in 2015. I had several different roles at Biznet, including Penetration Tester and PCI DSS QSA. In my job as a QSA, I found my passion and worked closely with the Audit and Compliance team. I've been working inside InfoSec for over 15 years, coming from a highly technical background. I have earned several certifications during my professional career including; CEH, CISA, CISSP, and PCI QSA.

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