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How to Ensure Data Privacy When Using Cloud Services

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in SecurityDecember 25, 2020

More businesses are taking advantage of cloud infrastructures because of the many benefits. However, ensuring data privacy and security is a critical component that many fail to realize until it is too late. Threat experts recommend a “zero trust” model to keep corporate, customer, vendor, and employee data safe.

What are the Benefits of Storing Data in the Cloud?

Cloud services have been around for a long time, and switching to cloud-based solutions offers companies a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Access: Instead of having to download, install, and configure software, users can access company resources easily from their own devices. 
  • Collaboration: Sharing files, making notations, and automatically saving every version is a huge benefit to teams working together. Being able to communicate using cloud-based sharing apps like Slack makes it easy for team members across the globe to collaborate as though they were in the same location.
  • Security: The cloud vendor is in charge of security, and as long as you trust them, you don’t have to worry about it.
  • Backups: Off site backs are a huge benefit, especially if something happens to your paper copies. Cloud-based file storage is part of a disaster recovery plan for many businesses.
  • Sustainability: When you use less paper; you help to save our natural resources and the planet.
  • Flexibility: Cloud-based apps and services allow companies to be more flexible in working and developing innovative solutions to problems. 
  • Savings: Most companies notice a considerable drop in costs when they implement cloud-based solutions. They also see an uptick in productivity. Making it easier for employees to do their job is a win-win.

What are the Dangers of Cloud Computing?

When your corporate data and systems reside in the cloud, they are in a shared environment, whether it feels like it or not. You have no idea what other people are storing and how they are using cloud storage. 

Businesses do have the option of either properly vetting a cloud service to ensure security and privacy or opting for a private cloud that you don’t share with anyone else. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) uses one that they trust with the most sensitive data. 

Some of the other dangers that cloud computing present are:

  • Improper authorization/access.
  • Human error.
  • The threat of hackers.
  • Malicious insiders.
  • Server misconfiguration.
  • Infected hardware or software.

A couple of cloud security options you can use here are provable data possession (PDP) and high-availability and integrity layer (HAIL). Security experts highly recommend using the “least privilege” model for access control. 

The biggest threat to organizations who use cloud-computing is unauthorized access to sensitive or private data. Due to various privacy laws such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), securing private data isn’t just about your credibility but also compliance. 

What is a “Zero Trust” Model?

The Zero Trust model is a security concept where organizations are taught to never automatically trust anything that comes from inside or outside of their own networks. Before allowing access, the zero trust model implements strategies to verify the identity and validity of the accessor and the data. 

The old mentality was to trust anything inside your own network but defend against anything outside. That model no longer works as data breaches and fraud is prevalent.

When looking at cloud computing and how to implement a Zero Trust approach, Data Breach Today advises, “Try to identify the key risk which you would want to secure, the immediate technology which you will require to secure it and then select a vendor who supports your other technologies as well to achieve zero trust.”

Preserving Data Integrity

To preserve your data and keep it “clean,” implement the least privilege model where only those who absolutely need to access it have the authorization to do so. Set up data monitoring and integrity testing to ensure nothing has poisoned your data. Use cloud services that offer a service level agreement (SLA) that works for you. 

Ensuring Data Confidentiality 

Cybersecurity experts recommend the following steps for ensuring data confidentiality when using cloud services.

Discover and Categorize Your Data- First, you need to take a full inventory of what information you have, where it is located, and how it is accessed, and by whom. Once you identify sensitive data, you can map out a plan to reduce access and store it in the most secure location.

Encryption - Mask and encrypt all sensitive or private data so that even if it were to fall into unfriendly hands, they could not read it. Never store sensitive information in plain text format. Using asymmetric encryption (private and public keys) is best. 

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