Tech & AI

An Essential Security Checklist for Your Company’s Cloud Services

Posted 08 October 2018 | BY Sansan

Cloud services do away with the need for mass storage systems. They allow colleagues to collaborate with each other from remote locations. They reduce infrastructure expenses. They have so many benefits, but these also give rise to security issues.

However, concern about security shouldn’t be a fear that keeps your company in the pre-cloud dark ages. Take these simple precautions and your cloud services will meet modern safekeeping protocol requirements. They’ll also ensure that your data remains risk-free.

Authentication: The Starting Point

Authentication limits access to only those with proper accreditation. The most basic type of authentication is usually an ID number or username and password. Almost every company in the world uses this kind of verification.

Multifactor Authentication: A More Secure Approach

Multifactor authentication adds an extra level of security. Typically, a user is first required to fill in their username and password. After that, they receive a one-time password (OTP) via a telephone call or email. They enter this to prove they're authorized to access that particular document or program. The OTP is combined with their username and password as a second step in validation.

Multifactor authentication also notifies users if there is an attempt to access their account from an unusual location or simultaneously from multiple locations. In this way it alerts them to suspicious activity. The simplicity of this added step in authentication has made it a popular choice for companies around the world.

Access Control: Certified Devices Only

Access control applies security restrictions to devices. An appliance without the necessary clearance therefore can’t reach particular services or programs. This keeps out unauthorized third parties.

One way of implementing access control is with a "choose your own device” (CYOD) policy instead of "bring your own device" (BYOD). This way, employees can work only on equipment that is fully certified and follows the firm’s security protocols.

That’s what GoDaddy did when it employed CYOD. The registrar and hosting company included Apple Mac computers among its approved devices. That way, employees who were more used to working on a Mac could still access all the company’s cloud services conveniently. At the same time, the company’s data was risk-free.

Encryption: Making Data Theft Meaningless

Encryption is a trusted way to secure data. Even if intercepted, it will just appear as an unintelligible jumble of numbers and letters. This makes it useless for anyone without the decryption key.

Spain-based software engineering company AMG uses Spamina’s cloud-based email encryption service to protect its messages so that even if they do leak, they remain confidential.

Physical Protection: The Barrier Keeping Your Data Safe

Every cloud system should have a fail-safe back-up system. This keeps the data shielded, just in case the server is compromised, damaged or destroyed. While physical attacks and faults are less common than internet-routed violations, they can prove hugely damaging. Ask your provider how their servers are physically safeguarded against such an occurrence.

Amazon has explained in detail how its Amazon Web Services cloud servers are protected. They’re built in areas with a low risk of flooding or extreme weather, for example. In case of failure, there are processes in place to automatically divert traffic from the affected area.

Education: Empowering the User

All the above measures can only work if the user is aware of how to mitigate the risks. Avoiding untrustworthy wi-fi hotspots and not accessing confidential information on public devices are simple ways to reduce the threat.

Advice on setting passwords is also valuable. For instance, it’s unwise to use personal information like pets’ names for passwords. Similarly, using the same password for multiple accounts could also be dangerous.

Security is a major concern when using a cloud service. However, by taking the right steps, there’s no reason the cloud can’t be safeguarded. That way, you’ll reap the benefits of the cloud without any of the downsides.