5 effective ways enterprises can prevent data leaks in the cloud

In our contemporary digital world, data is the most valuable asset to any enterprise or the business. Data has now gathered all the momentum to act as a fuel that keeps companies running. Today, many companies have migrated to the cloud not only for storage but for computing needs. What are the reasons behind companies rapidly turning to the cloud? Well, cloud computing offers a long-list of advantages for both professional and personal usage. It offers a flexible means of data storage and is well-known for its availability and cost-effective nature. But there are also security-related issues and other concerns associated with the cloud. Since the data on the cloud is readily accessible, without proper security and monitoring, any intruder with the right set of skills can gain access to the confidential data stored in the cloud. According to a recent survey, 62 percent of organizations and enterprises store their sensitive customer-related data in public clouds. With the growing use of cloud computing, the risks and security-related issues in the cloud are also growing. As a result, the risk of data being exposed through data leaks in the cloud continues to increase.

It’s due to these security issues, that some companies and enterprises are refraining from migrating to the cloud. But do the companies really have to give up on all the advantages the cloud offers just because of these security issues and worries about data leaks in the cloud? In fact, there are certain measures and precautionary steps to be taken to avoid being a victim of data leaks in the cloud. Below are some of the best practices and tips that can help enterprises ensure that their data in the cloud remains secure.

Classify the data

The amount of data that is being stored in the cloud is increasing at an enormous pace. This data constitutes a large amount of personal and vital data, and also includes nonconfidential generic data. With the increasing amount of data being stored in the cloud, securing the data and maintaining its confidentiality is more vital — and more difficult — than ever before. Data has to be first classified based on its confidentiality and value. Such a data classification makes it easy and cost-effective to secure the enterprise’s confidential data and thus lowers the possibility of data leaks in the cloud.

Avoid misconfigurations and bugs

Often, minor misconfigurations or bugs in managing the cloud servers, network, or storage results in data leaks in the cloud. For instance, if two or more cloud-based applications store the data in a common location with the same file name, the data gets overwritten or conflicted based on the configuration. Either way, there is a data loss. Similarly, If multiple cloud-based applications accessed a common file, there is a possibility that they would read each other’s data, which leads to inter-tenant data leaks. Apart from that, isolation failure between containers, incomplete or corrupted data deletion, and faulty access control configuration are some common misconfigurations in a cloud-based environment which leads to data leaks.

Avoid incorrect web-request routing

In any cloud-based application, web-request routing plays a vital role. Most cloud services allow applications to be scaled automatically based on usage. This can be done by either allocating or deallocating resources based on the workload. While additional resources are being added to serve the request, the routing logic might lead to some unintended data leaks. This happens especially when the load balancer is introduced to split the request among the available resources. These routing algorithms must be carefully examined and monitored to avoid these unwanted data leakss.

Implementing granularity

Granularity means to split up a large task into smaller, more finely delegated tasks for better management and handling. The concept of granularity is essential in safeguarding the confidential data in the cloud. This will enable an organization to analyze and address the risks while still enabling cloud computing usage. This can be started by restricting the access of business-critical applications. Better policies can be enforced to restrict the usage of confidential data such as HR-related data, customer data, and any other business-sensitive data. Enterprises need to be very cautious and precise about these policies to avoid data breach or leaks from the cloud.

Monitoring user activities and logs can also serve as an efficient means of avoiding data leaks. Enterprises need to analyze and secure those apps that provide access to confidential data such as HR, banking, and more. Keeping an eye on the users, using these secure apps and tracking data transfers from these apps will enable an organization to understand what policies need to be implemented.

Strengthen security

All data involved in the cloud, be it at rest or in transit, must be encrypted. Encryption remains the most reliable means of data protection as it serves as an organization’s last hope against cyberattacks. All passwords and user credentials must be updated on a regular basis and all users’ access must be regularly monitored. Setting up permissions is yet another security essential.

All these seemingly simple measures are often overlooked by organizations, leading to sensitive data leaks in the cloud. Apart from these aspects, awareness must spread across each individual in an organization to understand the necessity of being cautious in a cloud environment. We believe that by understanding the consequences of data leaks and knowing these best practices, you can prevent the chances of leaking your confidential and sensitive data stored in the cloud.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Wikimedia

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