Whereas Part 1 of How to Enforce Secure Access in the Cloud covered solutions, Part 2 of this series will go over the practices that complement the technology you need to ensure cloud-hosted data is protected against external and internal threats. While tools continue to emerge that will help many businesses scale internal cybersecurity controls to keep up with the pace of cloud-connectivity, policy is still the most cost-effective defense when it comes to your hosted environment. This second article will quickly break down some of the top procedures your business must implement from the earliest stages of prevention to limiting the scope of a cyber attack.
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Compliance & Risk Assessment
The chances of being breached are growing statistically every year, meaning that your cybersecurity strategy needs to start with where an attack is most likely to occur as well as where the most damage to your business can be caused. The latter part is especially important as even though nearly all hackers have historically been driven by money, they have also displayed a disregard for victims, and consequences are just as likely to be severe if data is exposed accidentally. A comprehensive risk assessment – with a heavy priority on auditing compliance – should be your first step to determining where cloud access must be secured first.
Update & Patch Systems
Technology bugs can undo a lot of hard manual work in building up your cyber defenses by giving attackers a loophole to exploit, which can often be unknown even to publishers and manufacturers until it is stumbled upon by an external actor. When security patches are released for your cloud software or middleware, be sure your team updates your systems immediately since remote connections may be susceptible to the error, leaving them exposed to hackers every second they remain unpatched.
Proper Cloud Configuration
Misconfigurations in cloud-hosted networks and servers continue to be responsible for a significant portion of breaches even as of this writing, and must be guarded against to avoid overlooked data exposures. Connectivity as well as access privileges represent the greatest potential threats here if a misstep occurs during configuration. If your team does not have the resources or experience on hand to ensure these are handled properly, consider engaging a cloud service provider (CSP) that includes this as part of their managed services, and that you can trust to be diligent about it.
Layered Secure Access Strategy
As the above points indicate, there are a lot of ways that unprotected access can be compromised, and many still that can break through individual defenses. That is why taking a layered approach to cybersecurity is one of the most effective methodologies for reducing the extent of a breach, especially in the cloud. While every layer is important in this strategy, web-based connections in particular require informed data governance and user security controls most of all.
Inventory & Monitor Devices
Shadow IT is a pervasive threat within cloud-hosted networks insofar as the lack of visibility – and security knowledge among users – increases the risk of negligent usage and eventually, exposure of sensitive data. However, even business-specific technology from personal computers to company-provided smartphones can still become dangerous if your employees are cross-proliferating connections with other networks. You must be able to take an inventory of the devices linked to your databases, and monitor activity from all endpoints accessing your organization’s internal assets.
Cyber Hygiene Enforcement
Cyber hygiene refers to tools and practices used to clean up potential security gaps that can appear when interacting with data, and ensure that systems are carefully protected against user error or outside compromise. As an IT governance best practice, it must be treated as a corporate standard and an expectation of company culture. Establish policy that clearly states the guidelines employees are expected to follow and create a clear framework for reporting as well as seeking network support.
Zero Trust Security
A zero trust security architecture removes the assumption that all login attempts and other network activity is benign, and enforces cybersecurity on an individualized basis. This allows you to more quickly and easily identify actions that are potentially malicious, giving you the chance to isolate them before they can do damage.
Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Awareness training is the lynchpin for enforcing cyber hygiene and creating a solid layered cybersecurity strategy, enabling you to both leverage employees to create a broader reporting net and ensuring that the first line of defense is the strongest. This will save you considerable time, money and potential pain when addressing cyber threats in the cloud by helping to harden the gaps that appear at the user level upwards.
Learn How Else to Enforce Secure Access in the Cloud
Enforcing secure access in the cloud requires the right combination of technology, practices, culture and support to successfully implement first and then to maintain consistently going forward. While it sounds like a daunting task, it is possible, but resource and time-intensive – let SWK Technologies help you shoulder the burden and give you peace of mind that your cloud cybersecurity is taken care of.
Contact SWK today to learn more about our managed cloud services and how we can help you enforce secure access in the cloud.
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