If you have read some of our previous work, you are already familiar with the unique benefits and challenges of cloud security. If not, let’s begin with a simple and important concept: Your cloud can only be as secure as the people in charge. This applies to both your cloud provider and yourself, as well as anyone else that has access to the network. At this point, the obvious next step is to talk about the ways in which your company can use the cloud without worry.
The Users Are The Biggest Risk
There are many people who will debate whether the cloud is more or less secure than the standard options. Rather than wade into this debate, we choose to give you a balanced and truthful answer: Your security will only be as good as the people who use and run the network.
Recent history has shown us that any computer system can be compromised. Even if the computer isn’t connected to the internet at all, someone could potentially gain physical access by using a malware program on a thumb drive. In like manner, any authorized user could compromise the network by failing to guard their password or other personal information. For this reason, the education of all network users needs to be a priority.
Encryption Is A Must
When choosing a cloud provider, you need to make sure that their network is encrypted with a strong VPN. A VPN (short for “Virtual Private Network”) jumbles all the data that flows within the network. If someone intercepts this data and steals it, it will just look like a bunch of mindless gibberish.
Here is why encryption works: Because the computer simply doesn’t have the information for which a hacker is looking. You see, in order to unscramble the data and read the data, the computer requires an encryption key. This key is used as a roadmap with which to reconstruct everything. Since the key is contained within the password, an attacker cannot get it without tricking you into revealing your password.
Some cloud providers do not provide encrypted services, and these should probably be avoided. A prosperous business will simply have too much to lose from a data breach. You should look for 256-bit AES encryption, as this is considered to be the best common option. Avoid WEP networks, as these are outdated and heavily compromised. The same is true of WPA networks, so look for one that relies on the WPA2 framework.
Be Especially Careful About Email
When you are trying to create an ironclad network security plan, you need to be aware that email is (probably) your biggest threat vector. Right now, you might be thinking that we have contradicted ourselves since we said earlier that the user is the biggest danger. However, these two factors are closely related. According to this study, those who are more aware of these threats will be far less vulnerable to them.
If the network users are not careful about opening strange emails, all your other security precautions will be for naught. Most of the time, hackers will gain access using a technique known as “spoofing” or “phishing.” Basically, they just create a fake email and disguise it as something legitimate. This email will prompt the user to enter personal information like passwords, login IDs, bank numbers, and all sorts of other info. By using a keylogger or screen capture program to record everything you type, a hacker can capture that information as it is entered.
To guard against this threat, you can start by making everyone get an encrypted email address. You can make use of an existing email service provider (like Protonmail) or get a tech to create a custom encrypted email server. Next, you need to make sure that all cloud-connected email accounts are restricted from communicating with anyone who isn’t on a list of approved users. It would also be a good idea to create a distinctive and detailed header for your official company emails. Things like that are harder to spoof, and any little difference should be a red flag.
Beware Of The Insider Threat
We have talked a lot about hackers and the things that they can do. However, we should tell you that these aren’t the only threats. In many cases, data is stolen not through hacking, but infiltration. Authorized users can do a lot more damage than a hacker, mostly because they don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary. When everything is stored in a cloud and easy to locate, the threat becomes a little bigger.
This kind of thing makes a lot of sense when analyzed. Hacking a network and stealing data outright can be a risky move, and the penalties for being caught might be very harsh indeed. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be that hard for a skilled hacker to get a job in your IT department. Once hired, they would be able to obtain the data with far less risk and trouble than a remote hacker.
Some data suggests that an insider breach is more likely to occur than a remote one. According to this study, about 60% of all data breaches that occurred in 2015 were insider threats. Admittedly, this data is a little outdated, but it still gives you a good idea of how common this threat might be.
We hope that these simple concepts will give you a better handle on your security situation and that you never have to deal with the effects of a data breach. One thing we cannot stress enough is this concept: The only way to have good security is to utilize good security habits. We have cited two scholarly articles on this matter, and they seem to show that a wary attitude makes all the difference in the world. If we have helped your cybersecurity efforts, you can show your appreciation by filling out the contact form.