As of 2020, the cloud computing market reached 371.4 billion dollars worldwide, with 94% of enterprises using the cloud in at least some aspects of their business. More and more medium and small-sized businesses have migrated to the cloud with the Covid 19 pandemic accelerating the adoption of the cloud. As time moves on, some of these businesses that initially felt the need to quickly adjust are now asking themselves, “Did I make the right choice? Or do I want to continue to use the cloud?” We thought we would help out these decision-makers by sharing some of the risks, benefits and tips to securing the cloud.
Risks of Doing Business on the Cloud
One of the greatest concerns when evaluating the use of various cloud services is confidentiality. Specifically, unauthorized access of company data and client information. Since third-party providers have access to your data, the risk of insider threats is a consideration. Unauthorized access also includes external cyberthreats. These cyberthreats take advantage of any vulnerabilities and security defects in the cloud. Finally, when considering transitioning to the cloud, disaster recovery should be considered. Migration to the cloud results in loss of control over disaster recovery. The speed and ability to respond to a disaster are limited by your cloud service provider.
Why Use the Cloud?
Since using the cloud may increase risks, why would a business want to use it? Businesses need to use the cloud in many cases to compete and operate efficiently. The increase in work from home and project sharing makes the remote accessibility of the cloud appealing. The ability to quickly scale up or down allows for the flexibility many businesses require. Many cloud providers include automatic updates to the most up to date software and servers, which means one less item for the IT team to manage. Believe it or not, security may also be one benefit to consider when migrating to the cloud. Depending on your business, size and your security model, you may find your cloud service has greater security than what you currently have in place. For example, some cloud providers backup your data at different data centres, ensuring that if your original data is lost or corrupted then you have access to the backup data. Of course one of the greatest influencers when considering business decisions is managing costs. Some small and medium-sized businesses will find renting added server space may be more economical as they can adjust to peak times and lower revenue making times in their business.
Tips to Securing the Cloud
- Use multi-factor authentication for all usernames and passwords. Stolen credentials is one of the main ways that hackers are able to gain access to your company data.
- Ensure your cloud system uses encryption.
- Minimize user access. Users generally do not need access to every part of your cloud infrastructure. Only providing access to the relevant content for each user ensures that there are less chances of user credential theft affecting cloud security.
- Backup your cloud system. Backups may be done directly on the cloud, but you may also do it manually on your own server, a secondary cloud server or a portable device like a portable hard drive.
- Ensure your team is trained on cloud security. Cybersecurity training for cloud computing such as the Arcitura Cloud Certified Technology Professional and CompTIA Cloud+ include training that focus on understanding and comparing cloud platforms and cloud security from a vendor-neutral perspective.
- Test your system using a cloud penetration tester. Penetration testing, or pentesting, will help to identify risks, gaps and vulnerabilities in your cloud infrastructure.
- Consider using an MSP provider to help manage your cloud services if your resources are limited. Ensure that your MSP provider has staff that are trained and regularly take cybersecurity courses to keep up to date on the current threat landscape.
- Ensure your onboarding and off-boarding processes address cloud security. New employees should be granted only the access that is required. Off-boarding processes should include restricting access immediately to protect against disgruntled past employees.
- Read all privacy policies when signing up for cloud services. You should also immediately set up your privacy settings to reflect your company needs.
- Use strong passwords. Password management is something that cybersecurity professionals have been raising awareness about for years. Passwords need to be unique, have numbers and letters and are longer than 15 characters. To do this effectively, many use a passphrase or password manager to help them remember.
If you are a decision-maker and want to learn more about the cloud, but don’t feel you have the IT skills for some of the more advanced courses, you could take the CompTIA Cloud Essentials+ course. This course will help you to understand the basics of the cloud and provide insight into questions and considerations when considering your cloud or multi-cloud strategy.