05 Jan 2017

5 Ways to Protect your Data in the Cloud

Is your data protected in the cloud? Cloud computing is now the norm — 95 percent of businesses worldwide are using at least one cloud service, according to a 2016 study. While there are many services that fall under cloud computing, businesses often use the cloud to store data. Although security experts note that storing data in the cloud is a relatively safe practice, businesses should still take certain measures to protect their files.

Here are five things you can do to help keep your business’s data safe in the cloud:

1. Review Your Cloud Service Provider’s Security Policy

Most cloud service providers explain their data security systems and methods in detail in their security policies. Your IT team or service provider must review your provider’s policy (or the policy of any provider you are considering), looking for key items such as:

  • How frequently your data is being backed up
  • Where the backup files are stored
  • Whether your data is encrypted when it is being stored
  • Which cloud storage facility employees have access to your data

The best cloud service providers are audited, certified, or both, by independent agencies. These credentials ensure that their security policies are up to standard. If a provider lacks these credentials or you are uncomfortable with how your data is being handled, you might want to find another provider.

2. Protect Your Account with a Strong, Unique Password

An essential element in keeping your data secure in the cloud is to use a strong password for your account. At the minimum, your password should be eight characters long, with uppercase and lowercase letters. It also needs to contain numbers that are not in a predictable pattern, for example, 5678. If possible, include special characters, such as a question mark or ampersand.

Equally important, the password must be unique. Cyber criminals know that people reuse passwords, so once they obtain a password for one account, they will try it for other online accounts.

If your cloud service provider offers two-step verification (also known as two-factor authentication), consider taking advantage of it. Two-step verification provides an additional layer of security to prevent unauthorised access to your account.

3. Make Sure Your Cloud Service Provider Is Using an Encrypted Connection

All data that you upload to or download from the cloud passes over the Internet. Make sure your connection to the cloud service provider is encrypted. If you do this, your data will be better protected in case a cyber criminal intercepts it. Look for a small lock icon either to the left or right of the URL in your web browser’s address bar to see if a connection is encrypted. If you do not see this lock icon when you connect to your cloud service provider, it is time to find another provider.

4. Create Your Own Backup Files

As part of its security measures, your cloud service provider should be backing up your data. However, no backup system is foolproof. A backup file might become corrupted. Therefore, you should periodically back up your data as well. One way to do this is to download the data from the cloud to your server. Having your own backup files provides you with an extra layer of protection.

5. Train Your Employees

Employees who access your cloud service play an important role in protecting your data. To fully understand that role, they need to know what a cloud service is, how it operates, and their responsibilities in keeping the data secure. The importance of good security habits also needs to be discussed during employee training. For example, they need to know why reusing passwords is dangerous.