How secure is your cloud storage, really?

Do you use the cloud for email, storage and collaboration? Now that so much of our working lives have moved online, the answer is probably a resounding “yes.” Many companies rely on cloud services to run their businesses smoothly and connect with employees and clients wherever they are. They’re a great innovation, but like anything, they do come with some risks.

Here’s the lowdown on cloud storage for business, and how to make sure yours is as secure as possible.

What is the cloud, and is cloud storage secure?

Let’s rewind. The cloud is a type of service or software that stores data on third-party servers, rather than your device. To access that data, all you need is an internet connection and a login. Google Drive and Dropbox are examples of cloud platforms.

While cloud storage security can vary, premium platforms use tools like built-in firewalls and encryption to keep your data safe and private. This means cybercriminals need an “encryption key” to hack into the cloud, which makes their job much, much harder.

3 cloud storage security risks

That being said, cloud storage security isn’t perfect. Many platforms don’t offer secure encryption or authentication, and some can’t distinguish between authorised and unauthorised users.

These are the cybersecurity risks attached to cloud-based applications, and the precautions you can take to protect your data.

Risk: Poor passwords. It’s essential to create complex passwords for your cloud services, and to change them frequently — every 90 days is a good guide. The strongest passwords are long, obscure and hard to guess, and don’t reveal anything about your personal life (such as your pet’s name or the street you live on). Aim to use a mix of letters, numbers and symbols, and avoid using that password for any other accounts.

Solution: Activate two-factor authentication. This requires you to provide two forms of verification before you can successfully log into the cloud. For instance, you might type in your username and password, and then a code is sent to your email address or phone. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to the cloud, and another obstacle for would-be hackers to jump through.

Risk: Cloud misconfiguration. Most cloud leaks can be traced back to misconfiguration. In other words, the humans behind the cloud didn’t put proper controls in place. They could have failed to limit permissions to the cloud to select users or accounts or made the servers accessible via SSH port 22, which means hackers can launch cyberattacks from afar.

Solution: Cloud service providers (CSPs) are in charge of the security of the cloud, including hardware and software. But everything else is up to the users. It’s important to configure your cloud security so hackers can’t bypass your internal policies and access your company’s and clients’ sensitive information. Firstly, double-check you’re using an encrypted cloud storage platform and audit it on a regular basis to make sure you’re monitoring vulnerabilities and addressing them ASAP. Then, to reconfigure your cloud-based server for your small business, restrict access to the employees who need the cloud (or certain files) to do their job. This goes a long way in minimising your company’s risk exposure.

Risk: Not backing up your data. Sophisticated cloud services feature “redundancy,” which means they copy your data onto different data centres in case of a server crash. That way, if your cloud service provider suffers an outage, you’ll be able to access your data from another server.

Solution: You can also practice redundancy on your own. In simple terms, this involves backing up all the data on your cloud to another source. This could be a different cloud platform or even a hard drive.

Tighten your cloud security

Along with putting these tips into practice, you can tighten your cloud security with ESET. The cybersecurity company offers the best secure cloud storage with ESET Cloud Office Security. This software protects your cloud from malware and misconfiguration, and can help flag and address cyber attacks before they happen thanks to its predictive security function. Meanwhile, ESET Protect Complete provides a multi-layered defense against a range of cyber threats. It also safeguards your cloud, offers endpoint protection and sets up two-factor authentication for you.

Got any questions about cloud security? ESET’s Digital Transformation can help you manage your workforce and boost your cybersecurity today.