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If you are running a startup, the cloud is the most convenient and cost-effective solution for data storage. The cloud allows your employees to easily access company data from any location, and share it with their coworkers whenever they need it. But, as great as it is, cloud computing comes with several challenges—cybersecurity being the biggest one. Today we are discussing some tips to keep your data secured in the cloud.

If you choose to partner up with a cloud service provider, you will need to take proactive steps to ensure your data is secure.

Check Out What Your Employees Are Doing

Check Out What Your Employees Are Doing

Your employees may be using other file-sharing services in addition to the enterprise-grade cloud providers your startup formally uses. Finding out which other cloud providers your employees are using is the first step to keeping your data secured in the cloud.

Needless to say, everyone in your company should only use the cloud providers your IT department has formally approved. To find out if your employees are using other cloud services to store and share your company’s data, you may need to use a shadow IT discovery process.

Assess Potential Cloud Providers

When choosing a cloud service provider, you need to take a close look at their terms of service. If they are unable or unwilling to give you information about their data center security policies, you should find another cloud provider.

You should know where your data will be physically located. This is important because many states and countries have their own data security laws. Even if you are using a cloud service provider, you are ultimately responsible for the protection of your clients’ or customers’ data.

You also need to make sure the cloud provider has no right to use your business data for any purpose. Your business should remain the sole owner of the data.

It’s also a good idea to evaluate third-party security audits of the potential cloud service providers. Your cloud service provided should be HIPPA, PCI, or ISO 27001 certified.

If you need help in assessing the security of a cloud provider, you can use the Cloud Controls Matrix by the Cloud Security Association as a guide. It considers several factors related to cloud security, including identity and access management, data center security, and key management.

Use Encryption And Tokenization To Secure Data

Privacy is important. You should use encryption

You should use tokenization or encryption to protect sensitive data that is on the cloud, such as medical information or social security numbers. Cloud providers that encrypt data per the customer’s request usually manage the keys as well. This means that they can access the data their customers store on the cloud.

So that you will be able to manage your own encryption keys, consider using a cloud access security broker (CASB). This is software that can act as an intermediary between your startup and your cloud service providers.

To help you monitor and manage access to data in the cloud, your CASB software can offer functionalities such as audit logging and granular file access controls. CASBs typically monitor cloud files for malware. They also come with data loss prevention (DLP) functionality.

Backup Data Locally

Even with the best data security practices in place, data corruption in cloud systems still happens. Make sure to have backups of your data. You can back it up in an external storage device, or you can store backups on another cloud server. Just to be on the safe side, you can go with both options.

As your business grows, so will your data storage needs. Naturally, the same goes for cloud data storage risks. At one point, you may want to build an in-house data center to store the most sensitive company data.

Data centers are a more complex and expensive solution than cloud computing, as they require predictive maintenance and regular thermal imaging checks. Still, using an in-house data center is a great way to minimize the security risks that come with cloud computing.

For instance, a data center makes it easier to ensure that only employees with company-approved credentials can access the stored data. Data centers don’t open a wide array of access points like cloud servers.

When your business reaches a certain point of growth, you may want to start preparing a data center strategy and gradually transition away from
cloud service providers.

Educate Employees And Create Cloud Usage Policies

Telling your employees to use only company-approved cloud providers is only the first step. You need to further educate employees on cloud technology (and accompanying risks). CASBs and encryption are great tools, but they won’t be of great use if you don’t have clear cloud usage policies in place.

Your cloud usage policy should clearly state which data may not be uploaded on the cloud. It should also detail the steps your employees need to take to ensure sensitive data is protected on the cloud.

Your employees should also undergo basic cybersecurity training. They need to know about the risk of using public Wi-Fi, downloading files from the internet, and falling for phishing scams.

And, even though you probably already know how important it is to use strong passwords, one cannot emphasize it enough. This means creating passwords that combine numbers, symbols, uppercase, and lowercase letters.

If you need some help with this, you can check out NIST’s digital identity guidelines. You should also turn on 2-step verification wherever it is possible.

Test The Security Measures You Have In Place

Testing cybersecurity measures.

Even after you take all the important steps to secure your data on the cloud, you can’t simply assume that they will work. It may be a good idea to hire certified ethical hackers to test the security measures you have in place.

This may sound like stuff from science fiction movies, but it is a common practice among many organizations.

If an ethical hacker figures out a way to access your cloud data without authorization, you can rest assured that an unethical one will be able to do the same. An ethical hacker can help you find and fix gaps in data security before it becomes too late.

Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.

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About the Author

James McMinn

Senior Digital Strategist

James is a savvy digital marketing specialist with a Masters of Science in Internet Marketing. For the past fourteen years, he has been specializing in SEO, PPC & Marketing Strategy. He has a super sharp analytical mind and a finely tuned creative eye for marketing initiatives that optimize brands.

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