The Complete Guide to Cloud Data Security and Protection

cloud data security

When we talk about cloud security, we are not referring only to a computer security technology, but also to an entire cybersecurity discipline. It is not only about implementing hardware and software to protect the digital assets of a given company, but cloud security also involves a whole series of practices necessary to maintain a secure and functional cloud-based environment.

Securing systems and digital assets requires the effort of both service providers and the people who use it, regardless of whether it is an individual or an organization. In this way, for this cybersecurity environment to work in the correct way, it is necessary to understand well the concepts at stake for both sides of the same coin, and how they interact with each other, especially when it comes to protecting what is considered the new oil, data.

What is cloud security?

In its broadest definition, cloud security is the entire set of technologies, protocols, and good practices that are used to protect computing environments in the cloud, that is, the applications and data that run and are stored in it, respectively.

Now, based on the ideas set forth in the introductory paragraph, the development of support against the vulnerabilities that this environment may present, remains on the one hand, in which cloud security providers provide a quality service that responds to any eventuality in a fast and efficient way.

On the other hand, customers should choose a responsible security provider, but should also focus on proper service setup and maintaining safe usage habits. This also includes securing both hardware and user networks.

In other words, cloud security also means shared responsibility.

What is cloud data security and protection?

If we are now more specific in the definition, cloud data security and protection is the set of technologies and methods that are applied to the data of any given organization, regardless of the conditions of this — static or dynamic — or of whom manages it — its owner or an external company.

This is a discipline that has been gaining more and more followers every year, due to the significant benefits it brings to the company. In fact, around 70% of companies that manage data assets, are already using security infrastructures in the cloud.

This aspect of cloud security is aimed at preventing the theft or loss of important information as efficiently as possible. For this, it uses a variety of tools and technologies that allow both suppliers and customers, to establish protection barriers between access and visibility of the most sensitive and critical data.

In this sense, one of the most powerful tools for data security and protection available today is with no doubt, data encryption. This technique allows the data to be encrypted so that only the users who have authorized access can read it, that is, the encryption key. In this way, if data is lost or stolen, it will not be possible to read or interpret it.

Additional protections for data traffic, such as virtual private networks (VPNs), have also been gaining more and more importance in cloud data security.

Companies are in need of cloud data protection

As companies handle larger volumes of data, whether administrative, financial or customer data, the need for more efficient measures to secure this data has also been increasing. The fact that companies need to manage these large volumes of data through various storage media has made managers realize the complexity of performing this task, if they do not have an efficient mechanism for it.

In many cases, significant amounts of data assets have been lost due to mismanagement and lack of transparency in security procedures. If we combine this factor with the other security risks that a company must face, such as:

  • Data security breaches
  • Theft of sensitive data
  • Application vulnerabilities
  • Malware infections

You can easily see the importance of increasing and improving security levels for data protection.

In addition to this, companies have realized for quite some time that implementing and maintaining a whole series of internal computing platforms for a more personalized security control is expensive and inflexible.

For their part, cloud-based platforms have made it possible to reduce the costs of implementing and maintaining security systems, in exchange for reducing a certain degree of user control.

Companies must also manage well in the legal environment related to data protection and privacy, an issue that every year becomes more and more sensitive in society, which is reflected in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU., and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPA) in the US.

For these and other reasons, there is a growing number — as well as a market that will reach more that $190 billion in 2026 — of professionals focused on making cloud security more robust, especially in the aspects of:

  • Data loss and leakage
  • Threats to data privacy
  • Breaches of confidentiality

The benefits of cloud data security and protection

Cloud-based technology has made it possible to establish a new paradigm in cybersecurity, since applications and data no longer need to be subject only to local storage systems; these can be kept floating between local and remote systems, always accessible via the Internet. This feature makes the cloud able to provide some additional benefits compared to other more traditional IT security systems.

1.- Costs reduction

As mentioned above, cloud-based security helps lower the costs of developing and maintaining internal and custom platforms for security control. Additionally, it provides a superior level of flexibility for storing data on a variety of storage media.

2.- Scalability speed

Cloud-based infrastructures and applications are highly modular and can be mobilized quickly. This ability helps in keeping systems in tune with business changes, which is especially useful in dynamic markets that change very quickly.

3.- Interoperability

Whether it’s business or individual users, cloud-based systems make it easier to connect to many other IT systems and services in a quick and efficient way. This implies that the user interface must be intuitive and accessible, and guarantee the same level of access between devices in a uniform way.

4.- Better governance and greater responsibility

Cloud systems are a constant connection between providers, systems, and users. This implies that to solve the different security problems in the cloud, both users and providers must be proactive in terms of their functions. This means a greater synergy of competencies that further strengthen the protection of data assets, as well as transparency and mandatory responsibility to ensure that both parties are secure.

5.- Constant security updates

Security updates in any computer system are essential for keeping its health, but many times users do not give them the importance that they should. In cloud-based data security systems, providers are concerned with deploying critical security updates consistently, but without requiring user intervention.

6.- Use of AI tools

Artificial Intelligence is increasingly present in cloud security to help in protecting data by analyzing security levels in computer systems. This, in addition to offering greater speed and simplicity in evaluating data security, also reduces the costs of hiring highly qualified professionals to perform these tasks.

Infographic created by DFIN

7.- Robust traffic control

Cloud security providers make use of powerful firewalls to ensure a higher level of file protection based on traffic control. Any kind of suspicious traffic will be blocked or redirected, making it more difficult for hackers or bots to distribute malware through a possible security breach in the system.

8.- Redundancy

The best cloud security providers are constantly backing up files in a lot in different data centers. This allows customers to access their stored files at any time and from anywhere, even in the event of eventualities such as power failures or natural disasters.

9.- Extra security testing

Cloud security providers must test their software and servers on a regular basis to make sure they are well protected against potential security threats. To do this, they hire third-party security companies who apply independent analysis and help further strengthen the security measures of cloud service providers.

The biggest challenge in cloud-based data protection: privacy

Recent data breaches on various reputable companies — yes, not only Facebook — have led to the enactment of new laws to protect users against unauthorized use of their confidential data. Due to this, new identity management methods, such as data masking, facial, eye and other recognition methods, are being implemented to separate identifiable characteristics from user data to comply with new, increasingly demanding regulations.

In the case of HIPAA, it requires some types of companies — such as medical centers — to ensure that their cloud security provider fulfills its responsibility for protecting access to data.

U.S. federal law already allows law enforcement to enforce data stored on the servers of cloud service providers, something that may violate some rights to the privacy of users that in many cases have nothing to do with online security issues.

These are some best practices for data security in the cloud

There are many technologies and tactics that companies can follow to significantly increase the level of data protection in the cloud, but the following two are of utmost importance, so let’s look at them in a little more detail.

1.- Encryption

One of the best ways to protect data in the cloud. The cloud security solutions provider can provide encryption, including the following types:

  • Total encryption of company communications
  • Encryption of highly confidential data
  • File transfer encryption

Since data in motion is most at risk of being intercepted, end-to-end encryption is the best option to protect the most sensitive and critical data. This ensures that unauthorized persons have blocked access to this data.

Of key importance when handling encrypted data is to ensure the appropriate handle of the encryption key. A good practice is to save a backup copy of the key somewhere disconnected from the Internet. It is also advisable to change the encryption keys from time to time to thwart the possibilities of unauthorized individuals using it.

2.- Configuration

In many cases, unauthorized access to data in the cloud is caused by misconfigurations that accidentally leave systems vulnerable. To prevent this problem, it is advisable to follow these best practices:

  • Avoid leaving the default configuration unchanged, as it is almost always a basic configuration that allows hackers to easily enter the system.
  • Never leave any storage sector open after use, otherwise anyone could see the content just by opening the URL.
  • It is convenient to activate any additional security services provided by the cloud provider, especially if it is to protect critical data.

Additionally, in order to have maximum security when moving and storing data on the Internet, it is convenient to follow these tips.

3.- Strong passwords

Strong passwords must combine letters, numbers, and special characters to make them more difficult to crack. The more random a password is, the better.

4.- All devices protected

This includes PCs, smartphones, and tablets. With data synced across multiple devices, any one with a vulnerability, could put all the others at risk.

5.- Additional backups

Although many cloud security providers do this automatically, it is also a good idea to do it on their own for faster access if necessary.

6.- Change of access permissions

Changing access permission frequently helps in preventing any device or person from accessing all data unless authorized. The key phrase here is, “one authorization at a time.”

7.- Antivirus software

Antivirus software is essential to reduce the chances that an attacker could be able to use malware to break into systems.

Conclusions

In the era of virtualization and cloud-based environments, data-driven organizations that base their decisions on information, need to have the security and confidence of knowing where their data is stored and that it is safe, and at the same time quickly accessible, when needed.

On the other hand, professional individuals also need to be able to count on robust security and data protection solutions that allow them to face the challenges of communication and remote work of today, keeping their documents and files safe at all times.

Today’s cloud-based data protection and security solutions offer new and advanced features every year that make this environment more and more secure, something imperative to be able to defend against the wide variety of modern cybersecurity threats.

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