4 ways to prioritize data security in the cloud

We’ve seen a mass migration into the cloud over the past couple of years that few could have predicted. But are organizations taking the necessary measures to protect their data?

In many respects, cloud data security is significantly different from in-house security. Having the right strategies in place can prevent or drastically reduce the impact of a breach while helping preserve the value of the data business. (Also read: Data Breach Notice: Legal and Regulatory Environment.)

These four strategies can position organizations to do just that:

       1.Adopting DataSecOps approach to cloud security

Playing the offense is easier, more time efficient, and less expensive than playing the defense.

But preventing or minimizing the effects of a data breach requires ground-level planning that many organizations fail to implement. DataSecOps’ approach can help organizations build security safeguards by building cloud infrastructures.

The idea behind DataSecOps is that security teams collaborate early and often with data scientists to ensure that security is the first consideration in every decision. In this way, data security is woven into the DNA of the cloud environment, which greatly reduces the risks of hacking and protects the data. And in the event of a breach, it does no good to cybercriminals. In a security first cloud environment, organizations can confidently store, analyze, and share data instead of responding to a potential issue and adding security measures as soon as an issue arises.(Also read: How to prepare for the next generation of cloud security.)

However, the DataSecOps approach requires a great deal of deliberation and thought. As organizations rushed to the cloud in response to the remote working environment, many prioritized speed over security and suffered the consequences.

The benefits of taking the time to implement a DataSecOps approach will outweigh the short-term benefits of a rapid move to the cloud.

       2.Implementing a data safety net

Working in the cloud requires moving away from the traditional data security mindset.

Securing data in local environments was relatively easy: protecting the perimeter and preventing access. There was little need for the data to leave that environment; And most of the code was local. But the onset of cloud migration has shifted many industries towards a distributed environment without an ocean. Compounding data security is that every device that accesses the cloud is just as secure as the network on which it’s doing it whether from home or a nearby coffee shop.(Also read: A distrust model is better than a VPN. here why.)

In the past year, we’ve seen greater reliance on implementing a data security network, which focuses on the perimeter of each device in use through several methods of protection. According to Gartner, a data security network “allows the perimeter of security to be defined around the identity of a person or thing. It enables a more modular and responsive approach to security by centralizing policy coordination and distributing policy enforcement.”

An essential step toward implementing a data security network is to conduct a thorough audit of your organization’s existing technology to determine if it is suitable for cloud data security. For example, intra-company security methods focus heavily on data at rest.

However, as we know, cloud data is stored and processed in infrastructures that are not owned by the data owner. Thus, cloud data requires different processes to ensure its protection no matter how it is used. (Also read: Who owns the data in the Blockchain app and why it’s important.)

In my experience, many organizations are reluctant to move away from the security technology in which they have invested heavily. The cost concern is understandable but past investments pale in comparison to the financial cost of a cloud data breach and the reputational cost.

       3.Employing Data Analytics Pipeline Protection Techniques

One of the most important advantages of cloud is data analytics, offering unprecedented scale and using insights to differentiate the market.

It stands to reason that organizations must ensure that data is protected throughout its lifecycle through the pipeline and doing so requires a wide range of situational techniques.

While the data is being generated, it is unstructured and needs to be categorized to determine how to protect it.

The first step in data classification is to determine if the data in question includes sensitive information, such as a Social Security number (SSN), home address, or credit card number. If sensitive information is detected inside the data, but this data does not need to be analyzed, the data will be hidden. This process completely hides sensitive information with characters in a different format. (Also read: It’s Never Gone: How to Protect Your Deleted Data from Hackers.)

Now, let’s say the same data contains sensitive information Do You need to analyze. In this case, the data must be encoded for use midway through the pipeline. Using the SSN as an example, its nine digits will be replaced by another nine, which leaves the appearance of the SSN but will not be useful to an unauthorized person to access it. At the same time, applications can analyze the data set without putting sensitive data in an obvious place.

Downstream, encryption is applied to convert data into an unreadable ciphertext that only a few privileged people can decrypt with a key. This approach, known as “privacy analytics,” can process data while remaining unreadable and unusable for those without access.

By implementing the right protection methods at the right time, cloud data analytics can occur without compromising the value of that data.

        4.Understand the details of joint responsibility

One of the most overlooked aspects of cloud data security is the failure to fully understand the shared responsibility model.

Many organizations have had the inaccurate impression that their cloud provider is protecting data. However, most cloud service providers are only responsible for protecting the cloud not the data inside. In other words: a home security company is responsible for keeping criminals out of the home; But it is the responsibility of the homeowner to hide or lock up valuables.

Before moving forward with your cloud provider, be sure to have thoughtful discussions as to who is responsible for what and take the necessary steps to ensure that your organization has appropriate safeguards in place.

Furthermore, it is perfectly acceptable to ask a potential cloud service provider for their certification regarding the industry or government regulations that your organization must follow. (Also read: GDPR: Do You Know If Your Organization Needs Compliance?)