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Cloud Security Solutions

The Complete Guide to Cloud Storage Security

What is Cloud Storage Security?

Cloud computing enables users throughout the world to access computing resources, including storage facilities like data centers, via the Internet. Rather than storing data in-house, often on local servers and drives, cloud technology enables users to use remote resources.  

Cloud vendors offer flexible pricing models, like on-demand and pay per usage, which enable organizations to grow at scale. Cloud storage services are typically provided under a shared responsibility model, which specifies how responsibilities are divided between vendor and client.

Cloud storage typically comes with security features built-in, such as encryption and infrastructure security. However, there are many cases in which organizations need extended cloud storage security, like granular management of access, tokenization, and more.

In this article, you will learn:

Cloud Storage Security Risks You Need to Know About

Lack of Control

While some cloud storage services offer certain security capabilities that go beyond standard data encryption, many come only with basic infrastructure security.

When security is left “as-is” and organizations rely solely on one security mechanism, they might experience issues during outages and malware infections. To extend security and gain more control over how cloud-based data is handled, organizations can integrate with first-party or third-party tools.

Related content: read our guide to cloud security challenges.

Data Privacy

Each cloud vendor offers different privacy terms and security features—both of which are critical for securing trade secrets and maintaining regulatory compliance.

Regulation entities, like GDPR and HIPAA, establish certain criteria for handling private data of European citizens (the GDPR) and handling healthcare information (HIPAA). The data privacy policies of the cloud storage vendor of your choice are critical to ensure compliance. In some cases, organizations are required to extend privacy protections.

Data Leakage

Data leakage occurs when data is transferred outside of the organization’s storage. This can often happen if insider threats, of the intentional and unintentional kind, make use of their credentials to transfer corporate data without authorization.

Whether the leaked data contains trade secrets, private or sensitive data, or financial information—the consequences of a data leakage can impact organizations in the short and long term. For example, loss of brand authority, loss of customer trust, non-compliance fines, and even bankruptcy.

APIs and Storage Gateways

Application programming interfaces (APIs) and storage gateways mediate between users and storage vendors. Essentially, these two mechanisms communicate with each other and transmit data back and forth. APIs and storage gateways are essential for cloud storage usage, but when improperly configured or hacked, these communication mechanisms can be exploited and possibly breached.

How to Manage Cloud Storage Security Issues

Today’s digital ecosystems are complex in their design, attracting an onslaught of attacks of various kinds. Endpoints constantly connect and disconnect, users are created and then deleted, users access their accounts from one device and then another. Even what might seem like a simple network can contain many vulnerabilities.

To ensure the security of cloud storage repositories, organizations need more than one level of security. One firewall cannot fend off all types of attacks. Multiple types of security measures are required to establish security against different threats.

Related content: read our guide to cloud security threats

At minimum, organizations need to secure their cloud storage with an antivirus, a perimeter firewall, and encryption for data at rest. Extended security measures that could help improve security are single-use security tokens, multi factor authentication, security event logging, and intrusion detection systems (IDS).

Cloud Storage Security Best Practices

Data Encryption in the Cloud

Data encryption mechanisms scramble data until it becomes completely unrecognizable and meaningless to anyone without a decryption key. Today, encryption is considered a must for the majority of data repositories, whether located in the cloud or on-premises. Encryption is important for data at rest, but it is critical for data in-transit, and especially during cloud migration.

The majority of cloud vendors offer data encryption, but it is best to make sure the vendor indeed provides this service and how it works. Is it a manual feature you need to set up or is it built-in? The question is critical, and will impact the amount of work and responsibilities on your part.

Determine Which Data is the Most Sensitive

While data collection is important, not all data should be prioritized the same. To ensure the safety of data during transmissions, migrations, and during attacks—prioritization is a must.

If an attack occurs, which data sets are most critical? During data collection, which data should be placed in a cloud archive for infrequent use and which data is vital for business continuity? During regulatory audits for compliance, which data should be classified as sensitive and private, and which is considered trade secrets?

Classifying data and then prioritizing it can help you determine how to properly protect it, how to design your backup and recovery strategy, and how to respond during data loss events or attacks targeting cloud data.

Establishing Cloud Data Deletion Policies

Data often shifts between environments. Sometimes data moves from a data producer to a data client. In other cases, data is migrated from one location to another. Either way, if the original location does not require usage of this data or local access, there is no need to keep it as a storage repository.

To ensure this data does not stay there insecure and forgotten, you should delete the data. This can help promote security as well as reduce overhead. You can create a data deletion policy that will serve as a guideline for certain roles in the organizan. A policy can especially help when you need to maintain compliance.

Who Should Be Able to Share it, and How?

Sharing has become a normal part of work, especially in cloud environments. According to a cloud adoption report, more and more sensitive data is shared via cloud systems. These numbers continually increase from one year to another, as more workloads are migrated to the cloud.

To ensure cloud data sharing is performed securely, organizations can establish policies that define access control guidelines, as well as provide documentation that tells employees and parties with access to corporate data how to share data. Otherwise, users might end up with more privileges than they need and that can put your cloud data at risk.

Cloud Storage Security with NetApp Cloud Insights

NetApp Cloud Insights is an infrastructure monitoring tool that gives you visibility into your complete infrastructure. With Cloud Insights, you can monitor, troubleshoot and optimize all your resources including your public clouds and your private data centers.

Cloud Insights helps you find problems fast before they impact your business. Optimize usage so you can defer spend, do more with your limited budgets, detect ransomware attacks before it’s too late and easily report on data access for security compliance auditing.

In particular, NetApp Cloud Insights protects organizational data from being misused by malicious or compromised users, through advanced machine learning and anomaly detection.

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