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9 Tips for Securing the Cloud

9 Tips for Securing the Cloud
There’s no doubt that more and more companies are moving their infrastructure, applications, and data to the cloud. The cloud is a great way to use and deploy technology throughout your organization efficiently and effectively no matter how disparate the departments or locations. While the cloud offers a multitude of benefits, it also opens your company up to additional risks, including decreased visibility, control, and security.

To ensure that you’re able to balance your business needs and security risks, you need a comprehensive strategy for adopting and securing the cloud. The following nine tips cover everything from requirements to planning, threat modeling, authentication tools, and DDoS protection.

1. Define Requirements

Before your company places all its reliance on the cloud, make sure your IT department has instituted a standard set of requirements for cloud adoption. These requirements should be driven by the IT department, but should also involve all business owners and managers to ensure every base is covered.

You should clearly outline your wants and your must-haves. There are three specific categories of requirements to consider when choosing a cloud application:

  • Technologies used
  • Certifications obtained
  • Compliance with common standards such as CSA Cloud Control Matrix

2. Develop a Plan

Once you’ve chosen a cloud application, you have to develop a plan for securely migrating your data to the cloud and keeping it secure once there. First, you need to understand what your cloud provider does to mitigate risks, how they report incidents, and what their plan is to restore and secure your data. It’s also vital that you understand the specific threats your cloud could come under, as well as the breaches that have occurred in your industry. Then, you can start creating your plan.

An effective plan should be built around your specific business goals and should focus on enabling technologies, processes, and people.

  • Ensure management, monitoring, authentication, authorization, and reporting technologies are leveraged.
  • Define clear processes for all business operations.
  • Provide your staff with the skills and expertise necessary to complete essential objectives.

3. Perform Due Diligence

Every cloud application comes with a certain level of risk. It’s essential that you understand the cloud provider environment, the applications or services being held in the cloud, and your company’s operational responsibilities. Only once all levels of risk are known, should your business feel comfortable with what it has secured in the cloud.

The three most important due diligence practices are:

  • Document Security Controls: Your organization should control and monitor which members have access to your cloud and analyze your current procedures to identify vulnerability and validate compliance.
  • SLA Monitoring & Auditing: You need to completely understand the business arrangement and performance metrics outlined in your cloud service level agreements.
  • Third-Party Cloud Risk Assessments: Periodically, your business should have a plan in place to hire an independent auditor to review the security of your cloud data.

4. Build a Threat Model

For every cloud application your company is considering, or already uses, you should build a threat model. An effective threat model identifies all potential threats—technical and business. Don’t worry about whether the threats can be exploited; focus on scenarios where the risks could occur and the potential damage.

A simple threat model takes six steps to complete:

  • Build a user scenario
  • Create a network overview
  • Analyze the technical background
  • Identify the assets, threats, and vulnerabilities
  • Perform a risk assessment
  • Determine the result

5. Embrace Transparency

One of the biggest security risks of the cloud is a lack of visibility. To protect your business, you should choose a cloud provider that is upfront and open about new risks in the industry, specifically those risks directed at their technology. While cloud technology that doesn’t solve its security risks is useless, it’s not just about the solution; it’s about their communication as well.

Make sure your cloud application keeps you updated on emerging threats and how they plan to mitigate those threats. Regular security updates should be provided and you should have a clear understanding of the provider’s responsibility and your own so there is no confusion or openings for failure.

6. Prioritize Risk Management

No matter how safe you feel in securing your cloud, there is always a level of risk tolerance your organization has to accept. Nothing is perfect, and you have to be prepared for eventual failures in security. To ensure that your business is prepared for service interruptions, leaks, or other issues, there are a few key precautions you should take.

  • Don’t entrust the cloud with highly time-sensitive data
  • Assess your cloud provider’s commitment to uninterrupted service
  • Prepare for interruption with a backup or alternate service
  • Understand the “force majeure” clause in case of an outage

7. Use Powerful Authentication Tools for Securing the Cloud

All cloud applications are vulnerable to hacking. You can protect your cloud from credential hijack and authentication breaches by using appropriate authentication tools. A simple six-digit password isn’t enough. Put additional authentication measures in place to add another layer of security.

A few examples of powerful authentication tools include:

  • Two-factor authentication
  • Multifactor authentication
  • One-time passwords

8. Create an SSO Solution

There’s always room for error when it comes to your staff. Cloud users can easily make mistakes when they have to remember several sets of passwords for different cloud applications. To reduce your company’s risk of exposure, employ a Single Sign On (SSO) solution within your User Directory.

An SSO leverages your existing authentication mechanism and takes it a step further by ensuring that only authorized users can connect to the cloud provider. The SSO can limit user connection by department, organization, or even location. It places your cloud behind an additional firewall to protect your sensitive data.

9. DDoS Protection

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection can help you ward off attacks that may block your users from accessing your cloud. According to the 8th Annual Infrastructure Security Report, 43% of all enterprises reported a DDoS attack that caused partial or total cloud outage. DDoS protection uses a set of techniques to resist attacks on the cloud by protecting the target and relay networks.

Learn how SentinelOne’s products can help your business work securely in the cloud by contacting us today.