Home > Articles, Blogs, Techie Tips > Cloud-Based Application Security Tips for IT Professionals

Cloud-Based Application Security Tips for IT Professionals

Cloud-based applications are no longer the future of technology, because the future is here. Cloud adoption continues to soar as experts estimate the market will grow 17% this year to a total of $266.4 billion.

Cloud technology provides convenience and lower overhead costs that are attractive for many small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). It makes sharing documents, videoconferencing, and accessing shared storage with teams around the world easier and faster.

But it can also leave SMBs particularly vulnerable to a data breach if you're missing the right security measures. SMBs are often growing their business faster than their security can keep up, which makes them a target to thieves. Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach investigation found that 58% of companies that fell victim to malware attacks were classified as small.

Security threats continue to evolve and grow in sophistication, so a robust cloud security plan is critical for IT professionals. With the right security measures in place, you can keep your cloud-based applications safe from an attack.

Data Encryption

Encryption is one of the most basic and essential elements of any security set up. It involves scrambling text so that it is unreadable to any unauthorized users and is critical for securing files, folders, volumes, and disks within a computer. Disk encryption works to protect stored data on computers and network storage systems. Without it, a thief can steal the information even without a password.

Typically, desktops and servers have high levels of encryption. In a society where remote work is on the rise, encryption needs to extend to smartphones and tablets as well.

Cloud Endpoint Security and Antivirus

When it comes to protecting your data against viruses or malware attacks, cloud endpoint security and antivirus are both viable options for SMBs depending on their circumstances. Cloud security also requires less investment than dedicated hardware and doesn't need constant maintenance by IT professionals.

With the rise of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and working from home, an endpoint security system provides the flexibility to protect each individual potential entry point from malware. Traditional endpoint software is typically geared toward large corporations and too cumbersome for SMBs. Cloud endpoint security requires fewer resources and commitment because IT professionals can monitor devices from anywhere.

Cloud antivirus technology uses an agent which is a small program that runs on your computer. It requires much less processing power than a locally installed application, which means your computer isn’t slowed down by too much information. That agent then communicates with a server that holds the antivirus component to analyze data and scan for malware threats.

Not many cloud providers tell SMBs that they are solely responsible for securing their piece of cloud paradise, as they normally can profit over security failures. Lack of this knowledge is a major cause of cyberattacks on SMBs. Whether endpoint security or antivirus is best for your business, cloud security is vital to protect your data.

Since SMBs are particularly vulnerable to attacks and have fewer resources to dedicate to security, the cloud is a great option. It allows businesses to balance complexity and cost without compromising security.

Password Management

No matter how much technology improves, passwords continue to be an essential component of security. Biometrics data, like face scanning, have their weaknesses, so passwords are not going away anytime soon.

Unfortunately, much of the traditional advice regarding passwords is incomplete and obsolete. A secure password policy is paramount to protecting your business. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends long and complex passwords that are at least 64 characters long with a mixture of letters, numbers, symbols, and spaces. You can test your password using online testing tools, such as Microsoft’s Safety and Security Center. While a strong password can do a lot to protect your data, there are additional measures that can help keep your information as secure as possible.

A password manager creates long and random passwords that the user doesn't have to remember. Users create one password for their manager that then protects the rest of the passwords. Whenever they visit a website or app that requires one of their passwords, users can pull up the password manager and easily copy/paste the saved password into their login box. Some password managers will even auto-fill the password for them.

With growing popularity some password managers are supporting two-factor authentication (2FA) as it can help add another layer of security to passwords. It requires users to confirm their identity in addition to a username and password, such as a one-time code sent through a text message or email. The additional authentication makes it impossible for thieves to hack in because they do not have access to the code.

Experts recommend a different, random, and memorized password for every new program or application. This can be challenging for most users to implement perfectly, and most are afraid that forgetting critical passwords would leave them without access to certain information. Password managers are a practical way of keeping data safe without having to memorize each password.

Cloud Backup

A common misunderstanding is that cloud service providers will handle your cloud backup. This is a mistake that can have devastating consequences for businesses when they try to retrieve lost information. Cloud backup, also called online backup or remote backup, sends a copy of physical or virtual files and databases to a secondary location.

Cloud backup is an essential part of your business continuity and disaster recovery plan, should disaster strike and your business experience downtime. While large companies can afford to maintain an off-site data center for cloud backup, that option is not always viable for SMBs. Virtual machines (VMs) are a fast and secure way of achieving cloud backup. VMs, such as Veeam, provide a physical and virtual backup through a secure SSL so that smaller organizations can replicate their files to a cloud repository.

When you anticipate potential disasters and have a plan in place you are protecting your business from the worst case scenario. Two critical benchmarks for measuring disaster recovery efforts include recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO). These distinct measurements ensure that any disaster will result in minimal impact to your business. How often you backup your data will have a significant impact on your RPO. RPO refers to the maximum amount of data that can be lost from a failure. RTO is also called "maximum allowable outage" and defines how long it takes to restore your system to average usability after experiencing a disruption.

Maintaining Your Cloud Application Security

Many organizations turn to the cloud to remain agile and stay ahead of the competition. Cloud applications allow SMBs to better communicate and have more effective tools to run a better business, but there is also an increase in vulnerability. The right practices and tools can help protect your business from attacks and compromising sensitive information. By using the latest technology and right practices, you can harness the benefits of the cloud and minimize the risks to your company.

Related Reading: