The Beginner’s Guide for Ensuring the Security of Cloud Hosted Data

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From HIPAAReady to CloudDesk, cloud solutions are here to stay. These solutions not only store your data online and provide you with the ease of accessing it at any place and time, but they also embed comprehensive features such as pooling of resources and easy maintenance.

The convenience that comes alongside the use of cloud solutions does seem enticing, however, submitting your personal data to a cloud provider raises a couple of security concerns without a doubt.

According to a 2019 Cloud Security report, data security (29%) and general security (28%) risks top the list of obstacles to faster cloud adoption.

With nearly every business utilizing some kind of a cloud database and network today, securing data on the cloud has never been more crucial when it comes to protecting your authenticity.

Source: Cybersecurity Insiders

In this piece, we will be looking at a few ways organizations can ensure the security of cloud-hosted data to be able to utilize these platforms to their maximum potential.

1. Choose Cloud Services that Provide Data Encryption

One of the simplest ways to protect your privacy when using cloud services is to look for one that comes with encryption for your data. This furnishes a supplementary layer of security since decryption will be required on the hacker’s part before access is granted to the data.

Commonly known as the zero-knowledge proof in cryptography, this technique will not only protect your data against cybercrimes but also the administrators and service providers themselves. While keeping data encrypted in the cloud may be adequate for starts, what would be even better is if the cloud service also warrants encryption during the downloading and uploading stages.

For instance, if you’re looking at securing the data for your healthcare app, ensuring proper HIPAA compliance is a must for you. So, you should opt for a HIPAA compliant hosting server instead of a regular one since the former will embed additional functions for data encryption while taking care of compliance rules simultaneously.

With the added step of decrypting and encrypting your data, you may discern that syncing your data with your cloud drive takes very little time. That being said, this is an imperative pain to go through if you want the files to be accessible to you and you alone.

2. Encrypt the Data from your end before Uploading it to Cloud

If you choose not to leverage a cloud provider that will aid you to encrypt your data, you can always opt for a third-party tool to carry out the encryption instead. All you need to do is download a cloud-protection application of your choice which will enable you to generate secret key sequences to your files right before you upload them to the cloud by means of a strong password.

Even if you’ve already invested in an encrypted cloud service, it wouldn’t hurt to go through an initial round of encryption for your files to get a little extra assurance.

3. Back-Up Data Locally at Frequent Intervals

The cloud harbors a number of potential threats to your data. Malicious codes or software like Trojans and viruses don’t just perform data thefts. In some instances, they completely erase it.

Therefore, it really isn’t a bad idea to create some kind of defense before the unthinkable can happen. Consider data backup to be one of those better-safe-than-sorry precautions you can implement right away. It doesn’t take up too much of your time and is relatively economical.

There are endless reasons to back up your personal data locally, and that too in more than one place. You can create multiple electronic copies for your data so that you can access them even when the original has been corrupted or gets misplaced entirely.

There are several cloud storage services available in the market today, which means you can set up as many cloud accounts as you might require to create backups and syncs at frequent intervals. For instance, a growing number of businesses and individuals, everyone from health care providers to IT professionals, are using Amazon Web Services (AWS) to protect their clients’ information in accordance with the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

One thing to remember here is that if you have data stored in the cloud, you should also manually back up your data in an external device or physical storage drive, it could be anything right from a thumb drive, a pen drive or a hard disk. This also enables you to retrieve the information when you have poor or no Internet connection.

4. Avoid Storing any form of Sensitive Information

The belief that there’s such a thing as real privacy on the internet is highly debatable, so one shouldn’t be storing any private files on the cloud, to begin with. Call it delusion, but identity theft is on the rise and it is always a safer bet to avoid risks altogether. In any case, you don’t have to look at your most sensitive data through the cloud on a 24/7 basis in all likelihood.

One general advice here would be to keep only those files on the cloud which you need to access on a frequent basis and avoid putting up documents containing passwords for your various online accounts or personally identifiable information (PII) such as your national identification number, credit card numbers, home address, bank account details, etc.

If you must incorporate this information into your files, make sure to encrypt them from your end before you upload them to the cloud.

5. Apply Biometric Authentication

As the very first line of defense against hackers and other cyber threats out there, you should go for the much more secure biometric verification; in case your cloud service provider offers the same. You can also connect to a biometric authentication API for your system that measures unique characteristics of a person, such as their facial pattern, the iris pattern of the eye, or fingerprint patterns. With biometrics, it can be extremely difficult for someone to break into a system or commit identity fraud.

On the other hand,

For instance, in the case of Google Products, users have to sign in to their Google account before they can use the cloud storage service. Once two-step authentication is turned on for a user’s Google account – a verification code is then sent to their smartphone which gives the much-needed added security on top of just their password to be able to access cloud data.

Lastly, data protection standards like GDPR and HIPAA are regulations that businesses must take seriously –- or else, they will have to pay hefty fines or even face stringent actions at times.

You can’t simply pass the blame on to a third-party vendor (your cloud computing provider) and expect little to no penalty.

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Matthew Bennett

The author leads the digital marketing team at M2SYS Technology and an occasional blogger. He is passionate about writing various government and enterprise biometric identity management technology adoption related topics and the changes it brings on the general people’s lives.

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