Data Security in the Cloud – What You Need to Know
Best practices to ensure you are properly protecting your data
Read time: 4.5 min.
With the proliferation of cloud-based technology and data storage, commonly referred to as “the cloud,” companies have an off-premise option to house their systems and business data without big investments in hardware and in-house maintenance.
You might accept by now that your data is secure when stored in a cloud server. A majority of business leaders today believe storing their data in cloud servers is safer than on-premise. In fact, eight out of 10 IT professionals and executives trust cloud data security over on-premise servers to protect their data from hardware malfunctions and environmental disasters, according to Forbes. Six out of 10 believe data is safer from malicious attacks when its stored in the cloud.
However, how you implement cloud data security to protect your information is important to understand. But before we explore some best practices, let’s define exactly what we mean by cloud security.
Cloud security is the protection of data stored online from theft, hacking or deletion. The cloud refers to a network of remote servers, hosted on the internet, that store and maintain data. Cloud security is protecting that internet-stored data.
Types of Cloud Data Storage
In terms of data storage in the cloud, you’ll have to decide between public, private or a hybrid. Public clouds are owned and maintained by a third party that stores the information of multiple organizations in a single database. In a public cloud, data is segregated by company using database management system, or DBMS, software. Like its name implies, private clouds are an autonomous storage environment, singularly controlled by your organization. Maintenance can be done internally or through a third-party provider. A hybrid is a mix of a private cloud server that uses public services.
Cloud data security comes into play regarding the type of cloud server you might want to utilize for your organization by considering a few factors. Large technology companies (i.e. Oracle, Amazon) typically maintain public cloud servers. They keep current on multiple layers of security to safeguard and provide a variety of services. These include easy subscription changes and simple access to your data.
However, individual companies with private servers have historically had a difficult time maintaining security controls at all levels in their system architecture. Whether due to missing skill sets, or IT personnel constraints, it is typical that even available security patches are not always deployed on private servers. It is worth noting that private servers for most entities are less likely to be a large target for a hacker. In turn, they afford the company a high level of management and visibility into stored assets.
What to Do to Keep Your Data Secure
How do you ensure that your data isn’t accessible to those who shouldn’t have permission?
Four best practices for keeping your data secure in the cloud are:
- Segment responsibilities
- Secure your system
- Have a plan
When you segment responsibilities, not all members of your organization have access to all of your data. This minimizes several potential risks, including human error and fewer access points. People make mistakes – it’s what makes us human. However, opportunities for error are fewer by adjusting permissions and security levels of users.
Before anyone has access to your system, it should be secured. This is where a multilayer system comes into play. Antivirus protection, firewalls, data isolation and intrusion detection are some of the functions you can implement to protect your data before your cloud system is rolled out to end users. Create your security system, then let your users in.
Maintain Your Cloud Data Security
Now that you have a security system that keeps unwanted access out, have a plan to kick out those who shouldn’t be there and patch the hole they exploited. As with implementing any system controls, a plan is crucial. Once you discover a security breach, a detailed process of how to remove them from your system and keep them out can stop others from exploiting the same access point. Additional top security threats include data loss from deletion by malicious attacks or physical catastrophe, risks that result from a lack of due diligence during adoption and system downtime.
A cloud solution should have security protections built into its foundation to safeguard your data from the start. However, some problems can arise when the solution isn’t implemented properly, which leave your data vulnerable. Consider what your company requires of its system and choose a reputable product that will be secure with guaranteed uptime. Make sure whoever deploys your security solutions is qualified on the product and understands your business requirements.
Once your system is in place and your organization is running in the cloud smoothly, be diligent with maintaining your security controls. If a new update to your security system is made available, be sure to expedite the deployment of the update. Industry surveys show that more than 60 percent of all security breaches could have been avoided if updates had been put in place. These updates are many times the result of a bug or weakness that was discovered and can patch a hole you never knew existed. Use others’ mistakes to your advantage.
Is Cloud ERP Right For Your Company?
Now that you better understand how to secure your data in the cloud, is it time to move to a cloud-based ERP solution? One of the biggest decisions to make is when the right time to move to the cloud is, and what to host rather than housed on-premise. There’s a variety of factors to consider, including price, uptime, functionality and more.
Cloud-based ERP systems are more useful to certain industries than others, which makes moving to the cloud a no-brainer. However, the solution is one that needs to be considered carefully – costs can differ greatly, end-user training can vary and there is no one-size-fits-all in terms of structure.
As you consider your options regarding cloud-based ERP, create a new data strategy or audit your company’s current one. Download our e-book on best practices for creating a business data strategy.