6 technologies to secure your cloud environment

securing your cloud environment

Cloud technology is a force to be reckoned with. According to Gartner; the public cloud market is expected to reach $246 billion this year. This growth is mainly because more companies are seeing huge returns on their cloud investment. But wherever the money goes, hackers are sure to follow.

With more businesses housing their data in the cloud; more cybercriminals have focused their efforts on attacking it. To fend off cloud hacks, powerful security systems like the ones below; should be implemented immediately.

1. Identity management

As companies take advantage of more cloud computing services, managing user accounts becomes exponentially more complex. Each cloud application or platform comes with its own set of login requirements. And on top of that, each of these services comes with a unique set of user access and permissions settings. If you use more than one cloud service, hiring one new employee can mean hours of account setup and onboarding.

Integrated identity and access management (IAM) is essential if you want to avoid this. At its core, identity management systems allow you to set access privileges for cloud applications based on; an employee’s location, job title, and business ID. For example, you can create a policy that permits; front-end marketing staff to view and update customer information in Microsoft Dynamics CRM; but prevents them from tampering with sales reports in Salesforce. This helps simplify account management and limit the flow of sensitive information across your company; significantly reducing the chances of data leaks and attacks.

Another benefit of IAM is single-sign-on; a tool that allows users to access applications from multiple sources with one set of login credentials. By implementing this feature; employees will need to focus only on creating (and remembering) one strong password. You can also establish password complexity rules and expiration dates to encourage users to develop good login management habits; thereby minimising account hijacking.

2. Multi-factor techniques

In addition to single sign-on, your cloud provider’s identity management solutions should come with multi-factor authentication. When this feature is enabled; users must provide login credentials as well as a second authentication factor like a code sent to their smartphone or a fingerprint scan. Therefore, if a hacker ever manages to steal your password using phishing scams or brute-force methods; they still won’t be able to infiltrate cloud accounts until they acquire the secondary set of credentials.

3. Encryption

No matter how advanced security technologies are; encryption will always be a critical requirement for securing cloud data. When looking for a cloud provider; make sure their cloud encryption capabilities match the level of data protection required by The Privacy Act. For instance, 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standards should be applied to data when it is stored in the cloud and when it is in transit across the network.

Additionally, your cloud provider must have policies and procedures in place for storing, managing, and generating encryption keys. Ultimately, anyone who possesses private keys can read sensitive information, so be sure no one can easily access them.

4. Secure APIs

An application program interface (API) is a set of codes; that allow two separate programs to interact with each other. In cloud computing; APIs are used to integrate cloud applications with on-premise systems or third-party web-based services; allowing you to customise your cloud platform around your unique business needs. For instance, you can use APIs to pull financial information from your customised accounting software to your Microsoft Dynamics CRM database.

However, APIs are publicly available; which means hackers have access to API code and can go hunting for vulnerabilities to exploit. Cybercriminals can then use flawed APIs to manipulate applications into granting unauthorised access or leaking sensitive data.

To safeguard against possible attacks; the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) recommends implementing proper data encryption systems. But more importantly, the CSA suggests that companies should sign up for regular API reviews and penetration testing. This helps you detect bugs early so that cloud providers can secure the code quickly.

5. Intrusion prevention systems

An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is another vital component to your cloud security. This system inspects network traffic for traces of malicious attacks and blocks them immediately. Modern IPSs are able to detect the latest cyberattacks; because they regularly sync with threat databases and use behaviour-based detection to shield you from malware strains that have yet to be discovered.

If you opt for an Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering; make sure your cloud provider offers hosted IPS. This allows you to monitor the activity in your virtual machines and the network traffic between web-based applications; alerting your staff if suspicious behaviour is detected.

6. Endpoint security

Even though you may be using the most stringent cloud security measures; sometimes the weakest link can be the flaws in your computer system. Without properly securing your local machines, you expose yourself to bugs and malware that can let hackers into your cloud accounts.

For example, your computer could run into a Keylogger Trojan; a type of malware that tracks each keystroke a victim types. If this malware reached your computer; cybercriminals could read your typing logs and get a hold of your cloud password once you’ve typed in your login credentials.

To prevent these threats, look for a cloud provider that offers easy-to-use patch management and advanced antivirus software to detect and block known threats. This service should also include regular vulnerability assessments in which; security specialists point out any weaknesses in your computers and operating systems; that need to be patched.

Choose your CSP wisely

Achieving impenetrable security in the cloud is possible; but not guaranteed. Just like any IT project, you have to do your homework when evaluating the cybersecurity capabilities of your cloud services provider. When you’re positive they can provide the aforementioned security controls; you’ll be well on your way to achieving the true benefits of cloud computing.

There may be plenty of security requirements in the cloud; but with the Empower IT team, your life is a lot easier. We take care of all details, from managing user identities to providing endpoint protection so that you can focus on growing your business. For more information on how we can guarantee your cloud’s safety, call us today.