TMCnet Feature
March 09, 2021

4 Cloud Security Tips for 2021 and Beyond

Exploring Cloud Security Best Practices for 2021

Industry insiders have been ringing the bell on cloud security for years, but 2021 might be the year that the masses finally wake up to what’s happening. Thanks to a perfect storm of technology and circumstance, cybersecurity has become more important than ever. And it’s the organizations that embrace smart strategies rooted in sound principles that will succeed.

The Importance of Cloud Security in 2021 and Beyond

As remote working becomes more commonplace and organizations make bigger investments in cloud technology, the importance and significance of cloud security becomes more evident than ever. It’s no longer a theoretical idea – it’s something that must be addressed right away.

“As more and more people adhere to the work-from-home schedule imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, employees will take cybersecurity shortcuts for convenience,” researchers at Bitdefender say. “Insufficiently secured personal devices and home routers, transfer of sensitive information over unsecured or unsanctioned channels (such as instant messaging apps, personal e-mail addresses and cloud-based document processors) will play a key role in data breaches and leaks.”

The good news is that cloud security has better native security than the alternative. (An estimated 52 percent of organizations say they get better security in the cloud than they do with traditional on-premise options.) However, it’s no longer practical to rely on native security alone – especially when you consider some of the “up-and-coming” attacks that industry insiders expect to see more of in 2021:

  • Preemptive defense. Public cloud spending will likely double by 2023 or 2024, which means more companies will be adding cloud applications and installations to their tech stacks. And though this is ultimately a good thing, it will inevitably leave unprepared organizations exposed due to improper misconfigurations and a lack of oversight. (All it takes is a single weak link or bad application and a hacker can seize on it.)

  • Persistency attacks.  One of the benefits of cloud architecture is that it permits total flexibility with creating new instances and running virtual machines that are capable of matching any desired software or hardware environment. But this flexibility can quickly turn sour if not properly secured. This often fleshes itself with bad actors gaining control with an initial assault and having continual and persistent access to servers, which may be exploited over time.
  • Social engineering attacks. According to Microsoft, there are more than 30,000 social engineering attacks in the United States every day. These attacks, which require human interaction, are reliant on deceiving people through processes like phishing. And with these attacks becoming more clever than ever, we’re likely to see a dramatic rise this year. For businesses that are becoming increasingly reliant on BYOD and remote working, this trend is highly unsettling.

If you’re going to protect your business in 2021 and beyond, it’s not enough to rely on the basics. You must optimize and supplement your approach.

4 Cloud Security Tips

To fully protect your business and stay on the cutting edge of technology, you must adopt an advanced cloud security strategy. Here are some good ways to get started:

1. Train Your Team

As The Wall Street Journal reports, as much as 95 percent of cloud breaches are due to human error – a trend that will inch up even more this year.

“Complexity may not always be the root cause of incorrect server configurations. Errors can arise from subcontracting the work to third parties or just because of laziness on the part of those setting up a server,” WSJ reports.

In other words, the best cloud security strategies start with education and training. If you’re going to take security seriously, you must (a) make your team aware of the severity of cloud breaches, and (b) prepare them with the knowledge and tools to identify, thwart, and report threats as they emerge.

2. Understand Shared Responsibility

You must understand the shared responsibility model pertaining to your company’s partnership with a cloud service provider. Generally speaking, this framework means that cloud providers secure their software against attack, but you’re responsible for ensuring your compliance and security are up to par when running workloads on their infrastructure.

A failure to read your contract with your cloud service provider carefully could leave you with a false sense of security. It’s time to get educated so that you can execute with purpose.

3. Prioritize Authentication

We’re beating the proverbial dead horse at this point, but it’s worth stressing over and over again: Authentication must be a top priority for every organization – particularly in remote work setups.

More people have more access to more IT systems from more places than ever before. That’s good for productivity and employee satisfaction, but bad news for security. In order to keep risk minimal, you need to invest in robust authentication processes. This includes multi-factor authentication, foolproof VPN connections, and other advanced protocols.

4. Implement Encryption

It’s impossible to create an airtight cloud security strategy that’s incapable of being penetrated. Even if you’re 99.9 percent secure, there’s still a chance that a sophisticated attacker could find their way in. Thus, you need additional measures that prevent an attacker from gaining access to sensitive data once inside. Encryption is the answer.

Investing in encryption is a must at all levels. You obviously need high levels of encryption for data in transit, but you also need it for data at rest.

Your cloud provider may offer built-in encryption services as a base feature or add-on opinion, but this gives them access to your encryption keys. It’s a good idea to have your own encryption solutions to retain control. 

Don’t Fall Further Behind

If you’ve failed to emphasize cloud security thus far, you’re already behind on the adoption curve. Having said that, it’s not too late to get on board. If you don’t act swiftly, you’ll risk falling even further behind. Eventually, this lack of emphasis on cloud security could render you obsolete in a world where customers focus on doing business with companies that safeguard and protect their data.

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