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How to Increase the Security of Your Cloud Server in 5 Steps

May 25, 2020 No Comments

Featured article by Arya Koch , Independent Technology Author

If you are having a bit of hesitation about whether or not to add cloud computing services to your IT infrastructure, then you need to know that it’s normal for you to be cautious. When it comes to cloud services, data security is a big source of concern for IT professionals.

With an increasing number of companies moving their data and applications to the cloud, company executives are left with the job of striking a balance between the benefits of an increase in productivity and worries about IT security and compliance.

Security in the cloud is quite different from what obtains in a corporate data center. There are different rules in play when it comes to securing an infrastructure that one does not have physical control over.

When organizations are migrating to a new environment like the Cloud, then serious consideration needs to be given to securing that environment. But how do you achieve this when you hardly have any idea where your data is sitting in the cloud and whether it is secure or not.

For people who are fairly new to the cloud, the first thing to note is that securing a network and data in the cloud may involve the use of methods and tools that are different from what is applicable in other environments. However, the basic principles remain the same.

When thinking about moving to cloud services, organizations need to assess some important factors, such as;

- Data security, especially in a shared environment where it is unclear who can have access to your data and whether it is vulnerable to access from other systems.

- Data encryption, to be sure that data at rest and data in transit can both be encrypted.

- Privacy, establishing controls on who can have access to your data, how long for, and how data can be stored.

- Management and maintenance controls as well as other processes employed by the service provider to ensure system protection and regular updates using the latest security patches.

- Procuring the best cloud hosting services. This is as important as all the other factors. To learn more about some of the best cloud hosting services feel free to check out this comparison between Bluehost vs. GoDaddy on Mamboserver.

Right now, there is a lot of skepticism around the security of cloud-based systems and services. This post seeks to look at some guidelines and best practices for cloud server security. We’ll be looking at five ways through which you can secure your cloud server.

1. Adopt End-to-End Data Encryption

You should ensure that during your interactions with your cloud server, you’re using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol TLS 1.2. This ensures that your messages are being transferred with the highest levels of security. The cloud provider should be the termination point of your SSL certificate.

You also need to think about the security of at-rest data, i.e. data that is resident in one place. Enable the encryption of sensitive data at rest. This way, you can be sure of complying with regulatory requirements, privacy policies, and contractual responsibilities for working with sensitive data.

For cloud storage, if you’re storing your data in disks, encrypt them with AES-256, while also encrypting the encryption keys win an often-rotated range of master keys.

Normally, you should get field-level encryption from your cloud services provider and specify the fields you want encrypted.

2. Carry Out Regular Vulnerability Assessments

Your cloud service provider should put in place a solid and carefully thought-through incidence response as well as vulnerability practices and systems. This is the least you can expect from a company you’re entrusting your data to.

With incidence response, one feature you need to look out for is the ability to automate the scans for risks and vulnerabilities. You should be able to carry out security audits on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, rather than quarterly or yearly.

Vulnerability testing should be done every day, but you can always come up with a plan that works best for your environment. You can set up the testing and run it anytime.

3. Pay More Attention to User-level Security

This provides you with improved security. Layers of security are important and the only way you can get this to work is through the user. A customer should have the ability to modify and edit access privileges controlling their information at the user-level.

The capability can be easily provided using RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) which allows you to divide your tasks along granular lines with different levels of access controls. How careful you are with setting up your RBAC system is a determinant of how easy it will be to meet internal data security standards, in combination with compliance to external standards like the GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI.

4. Use Virtual Private Cloud and Network

Rather than settling for a multi-tenant solution, your software as a service (SaaS) or cloud storage provider could create your own dedicated cloud environment that can be used by just you. You’ll also have total control and access to your data. This is referred to as a Virtual Private Cloud on the Amazon Web Service (AWS). Customers have the option of connecting securely to a corporate datacenter with all traffic in and out of their VPC being routed to a corporate data center over an IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) hardware VPN connection which is industry standard and encrypted.

5. Leverage on Solid Compliance Audits and Certifications

There are two critical certifications that your cloud services provider should have. These are PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) and SOC2.

PCI DSS compliance is critical to e-commerce services. It requires a thorough audit that is focused on safeguarding data during the transmission, processing, and storage phases. You should be aware that PCI DSS actually has a deep focus on payment data, particularly cardholder data due to the fact that the standards are designed and endorsed by all the big credit card brands such as MasterCard, Discover, JCB, and American Express through the Security Standards Council of the PCI. However, the standard features strong and comprehensive guidelines for security techniques that are highly important including network design, application development, vulnerability management, as well as policies and procedures.

SOC2 refers to a set of compliance standards focused on the controls that service providers have put in place to ensure data security. These audits are aimed at helping companies to discover faults and fix them in the compliance management systems, vendor management environments, and risk assessment programs. These standards validate via third-party auditing that a cloud service provider possesses an infrastructure along with a set of policies that adhere to strong stipulations, as proven by an accounting professional organization.

These two certifications can provide valuable comparative information on the cloud service providers you’re trying to select.

Final Thoughts

Achieving the right amount of security assurances from a cloud service is possible but there are no guarantees. Just like with any other IT project, you have to be prepared. And when it comes to security, better safe than sorry. A private cloud hosting model will definitely offer more security and a better framework than public clouds.

It is important that all cloud service providers integrate the key security provisions discussed above into their cloud services. In-depth defense is usually a case of strict design principles as well as security policies strewn across different areas of expertise.




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