How to Strengthen your Cloud-Based Cybersecurity

By Dan Evert, CCNP •  Updated: 11/01/22 •  6 min read

Cloud computing has become increasingly popular over the past few years. 

Many companies rely on this powerful technology to reduce costs, achieve greater flexibility, and optimize their resources, thus gaining a competitive edge. Still, despite all these advantages, some organizations are reluctant to switch to cloud computing mainly because of security concerns. 

And these fears aren’t entirely without foundation. 

In the past 12 months, 27% of organizations have experienced a security incident in the public cloud infrastructure. This stat calls for a discussion on the best ways to strengthen your cloud-based cybersecurity and protect your sensitive information from being compromised. 

Here are some tactics to consider. 

Implement Multi-Factor Authentication 

Regular username and password-based protection no longer cut it. Weak, stolen, and compromised credentials are among the most common methods used for breaking into user accounts and stealing critical data. 

You need to add an extra layer of protection to your cloud to prevent data breaches and cyber-attacks. With multi-factor authentication (MFA), you can ensure that only authorized personnel can access your critical cloud infrastructure and sensitive data. You can use different combinations, for example, a password and a code sent in an SMS message.  

Other, more advanced options include biometric identification such as a fingerprint, voice, or signature. 

Besides being highly effective in keeping hackers at bay, MFA is affordable, so it should be top of your priority list when securing your cloud infrastructure. 

Although MFA is a cloud-based cybersecurity staple, relying solely on it can be dangerous. 

Invest in a Cloud-to-Cloud Backup Solution  

Although most cloud providers do their best to protect their users’ infrastructure and data, mistakes happen. And in this case, they’re very costly. Also, SaaS apps typically use basic protection, so opting for a more advanced solution makes sense. 

Let’s not forget that sometimes employees can accidentally (or intentionally) delete their inboxes and folders stored in the cloud. 

Cloud providers have a certain timeframe during which deleted information is retained in their data centers, but once this period is over, you won’t be able to retrieve it.

That’s why investing in a cloud-to-cloud backup solution is a good idea. Backing up data stored on one cloud service and storing the copy on another allows you to rest assured your sensitive information can be quickly restored. 

If your organization is subject to strict privacy regulations and retention compliance, think about a cloud archiving platform that will safely store all your communication data and allow for ediscovery.  

Manage User Access 

Access control can eliminate a significant portion of cloud security vulnerabilities. 

Let’s say an employee has access to all your apps or data and falls victim to a phishing attempt during which their credentials have been stolen. This will put your entire organization at risk of getting hacked. 

It’s as simple as that. Sometimes hackers don’t need sophisticated tools – gullible people are their best allies without being aware of that. 

The truth is that most employees don’t need access to all your apps or databases. Create an identity and access management plan (IAM) to set up different roles and authorization levels. This way, each employee will be allowed to access or manipulate the data they need to perform their job. 

Don’t Neglect the Offboarding Process 

Beware of disgruntled employees! 

According to an analysis from 2021, there were 65 million attempts to exfiltrate corporate data made by staff. 

So, if you don’t want to worry whether employees who quit or were let go will try to take their revenge on your organization, it’s crucial to conduct the offboarding process. This means de-provisioning users who are no longer part of your company by deleting their accounts and restricting access to apps, tools, cloud storage, intellectual property, and all sensitive corporate data. 

Bear in mind that for the sake of security, you should revoke all departing employees’ access rights right away. 

Provide Cloud Security Training to Your Employees 

Not all employees who jeopardize your cloud-based cybersecurity do that out of spite or malice. Sometimes they do this unassumingly because they’re not aware of all the threats in the digital space. 

Therefore, to minimize these errors, you should offer cloud security training to your employees. 

This particularly refers to anti-phishing training because this malicious scam was responsible for 32% of all data breaches in 2018

Exercise Due Diligence When Migrating to the Cloud 

It’s important to be very careful when migrating your critical data to the cloud. 

Understand the Shared Responsibility Model

The first thing to understand is the so-called shared responsibility model. This framework regulates both providers’ and end users’ security obligations. According to it, providers are responsible for monitor and taking steps to prevent threats to the cloud itself and its infrastructure. At the same time, users are responsible for the data and assets stored in the cloud. 

The extent of responsibilities that fall on you depends on the type of cloud services you’re using, so, for example, in the case of SaaS, it’s up to you to secure your data and endpoints, while in the case of IaaS, it’s up to you to secure data, endpoints, apps, operating system, and middleware. 

Overlooking your share of security responsibilities can compromise your data during migration. 

Migrate Your Data in Phases 

Another factor to consider is a phased migration. Start with low-priority data to test the system and free up your storage capacities. 

Such an approach will allow you to identify potential bugs and security gaps before transferring sensitive data you can’t afford to risk. 

Use Encryption 

Data is particularly vulnerable during transit, so it’s essential to encrypt it before you start the migration process. In addition to that, use encrypted connections and safe transfer protocols such as HTTPS, FTPS, SSL, or TLS. 

This step is necessary even if you migrate your data using a dedicated transfer appliance. 

Wrapping Up 

While using the cloud is an excellent way to protect your data and make it accessible from anywhere, unload your storage capacities, and reduce the burden on your internal IT, it’s still necessary to understand how to fortify your cloud-based security. Besides selecting a reputable provider, follow these tips to ensure your data is safe in the cloud. 

Dan Evert, CCNP

Dan Evert is a self proclaimed Router Jockey. Dan got heavily involved in networking right out of high school and has never looked back! Dan is giving back by working with high school students to get them involved and interested in Networking and Security.