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Cloud Security

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What is Cloud Security?

Cloud computing is the provision of computing resources like networking, server, data storage, databases and software over the internet. Cloud computing services allow businesses to bypass the upfront costs and complexity of purchasing and maintaining their own IT infrastructure in favour of paying only for the services they use. These benefits can accelerate innovation and digital transformation, causing cloud computing to be ubiquitous for many companies; however, this also presents various security challenges.

Cloud security is the technology, policies, procedures, and services that shield cloud data, applications, and infrastructure against various threats, such as cybercrime.

You might also be interested in: Cloud Security Audit

The following categories make up some of the foundations of cloud security:

7 Reasons why Cloud Security is Important

Addressing Cloud security is critical for many reasons, from complying with legislation to preventing the kind of existential threats that impact your business’s very survival. Here are some of the main reasons you need to implement cloud security measures:

1. Protects against security breaches

A recent study found that businesses store about two-thirds of their sensitive data in the cloud. Any organisation's data and information are its most valuable asset and must be protected. However, cloud-based data breaches happen in 40% of businesses. With increasing compliance demands from standards like GDPR and NDB, this illustrates the absolute necessity of maintaining cloud security especially with some penalties in Australia now up to $50m for preventable data breaches.

2. Cloud security helps meet compliance and legislative requirements

Adherence to data privacy and protection requirements is essential to complying with current and emerging legal requirements for data security. Two important data protection standards are NDP and GDRP, these and other Australian Data Privacy requirements must be followed, especially by businesses that keep consumer, and increasingly employee data and information in the cloud. A comprehensive approach to cloud security makes it easier to do so.

3. Cloud security enables disaster recovery (DR)

By their very nature, disasters can be unpredictable, occurring anywhere, anytime and with the power to destroy your company. Comprehensive cloud security enables an effective disaster recovery strategy that can preserve your data and your business.

4. Cloud security is much more cost-effective

According to IBM's recent 2022 Cost of Data Breach Report, data breaches in the cloud can cost around $3.8 million. Integrated Cloud Security solutions and partnerships with cybersecurity consultancies require little or no maintenance from the customer's perspective and provide cost-effective protection from cyber threats.

5. Mitigating the risk of remote working

One of the best benefits of cloud computing is that it enables remote working as a company's digital resources can be accessed anytime from any place. However, remote working or work-from-home is a significant security risk as employees may not follow established security procedures using unsecured networks like public wifi. Effective cloud security helps minimise these risks through secure password protocols, multifactor authentication, next generation Anti-Virus suites and other protective measures.

6. Scalability and Flexibility

Scalability is one of the most beneficial characteristics of cloud computing. You can flexibly and quickly scale up and down per your technology needs. Scalability does have drawbacks, such as vulnerabilities & misconfigurations. To ensure that scalability is not a problem, ensure proper cloud security and compliance and testing measures are in place.

7. Improves reliability and trust

Preventing data breaches or a privacy leak is the fastest way to destroy hard-earned customer trust, as we have seen recently in Australia with Medibank, Optus, Woolworths, Telstra and many others. Increasing resilience to this kind of threat can occur through good cloud security practices and partnerships with capable cybersecurity professionals.

What are the risks in Cloud Security?

Companies face many challenges and risks as they consider cloud-native security solutions to protect their data. Five of the most significant risks include:

Best practices for security in the cloud

Although the majority of cloud service providers have their own ways of safeguarding the infrastructure of their clients, you are still in charge of protecting the cloud user accounts and access to critical data for your organisation. Take into account the following best practices to lower the risk of account compromise and credential theft:

Manage user access privileges

Hackers like to exploit the desire of companies to provide flexible open access to employees. Consider providing data access only for and when it is needed:

Provide visibility with employee monitoring

To increase transparency in your cloud infrastructure, you can use dedicated solutions to monitor your personnel’s activity and that of third parties like suppliers, vendors etc. By watching what they are doing, you’ll be able to detect early signs of cloud account compromise or external threats. 

Employee awareness and training

The majority of cybersecurity breaches result from hackers taking advantage of user psychology and behaviour. Increase employee cybersecurity awareness, with a focus on phishing tests and simulations, to further safeguard your cloud infrastructure

Training without real-world simulations is the most significant error in phishing education programmes. Employees should not be aware of the upcoming test, and the simulation should feel realistic. The results of the simulation can then be monitored to identify which staff require additional training.

Ensure you meet IT compliance requirements

While most cloud service providers are aligned with most of the common compliance standards, organisations using these cloud services still have to ensure their data processes and security are compliant. 

Firstly you must define which standards pertain to your industry and which your organisation must meet. To make this process easier, consider hiring a cybersecurity consultant who will provide you with expert knowledge in cybersecurity and IT compliance. Gridware can help your organisation comply with these and other compliance standards:

Incident Response

Losses from a data breach can increase if you can’t quickly detect, contain, and eradicate cybersecurity threats. The longer a threat remains in your cloud environment, the more data an attacker can steal, corrupt, or delete. Consider developing an incident response plan to ensure your cybersecurity team can act efficiently in an emergency. Gridware can assist you in creating a comprehensive incident response strategy and even provide you with forensic evidence to help your recovery and prosecution of cybercriminals. 

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Cloud security is the technology, policies, procedures, and services that shield cloud data, applications, and infrastructure against various threats, such as cybercrime. 

Companies face many challenges and risks as they consider cloud-native security solutions to protect their data. The most significant risks include increased attack surface created by unsecured cloud ports that leave companies vulnerable to malware, zero-day vulnerabilities and other threats. Other risks include a lack of governance and compliance to new security standards, lack of monitoring visibility, rapidly changing workloads in the cloud and poor privilege and access management.

The following best practices help to lower the risk of account compromise and credential theft – managing user access on request for a limited time, monitor and record employee and user session to identify threats, provide user training and awareness with realistic simulations to lower behavioural risk, Ensure you meet security compliance standards like ACSC Essential Eight, NIST, ASO27001 and other Australian Privacy Standards.

Overall, while cloud security and on-premises IT security have many similarities, the shared responsibility model and the complexity and scale of the security challenges in the cloud usually require a more comprehensive, joint-responsibility approach and adherence to greater compliance standards.

About Author
Ahmed Khanji

Ahmed Khanji

Ahmed Khanji is the CEO of Gridware, a leading cybersecurity consultancy based in Sydney, Australia...

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Published December 15, 2022


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