How to secure your data in the cloud

Whether it’s your business phone or document drive, the cloud-based tools you depend on everyday are vital to the modern workplace. Yet even though global IT spend on these services is expected to reach $52 billion by 2019, data security is still a top concern.

A recent KPMG survey found that 53% of IT executives consider data loss and privacy to be reasons for hesitation when considering a cloud deployment. The last thing any organization needs is a data leak from a service brought on to make things more productive and efficient.

In spite of this, adoption continues to trend up, thanks to the scalability and mobility cloud services offer. As more and more companies migrate, it’s important to understand exactly what to look for in a cloud-based tool.

The next time you’re hunting, keep this checklist handy! You’ll be able to scrutinize services from top to bottom and ensure that your company’s data is well-protected in the cloud.

PrivacyTrust Certification

Check to see if the service is certified by PrivacyTrust. This means that its website meets strict privacy and data security guidelines. A PrivacyTrust seal lets you know that any sensitive data collected cannot be exchanged with third parties unless you give the okay.

Third Party Infrastructure & Platforms

Many cloud-based services leverage third party platforms to store and process critical infrastructure like data centers and web applications. Look for companies that use Tier 1 providers like Rackspace, with multiple safeguards in place. From redundant power grids to silent alarms and moisture barriers, these providers have years of experience protecting against all kinds of potential system failure.

Change Management

Ask about the change management process. In case of high-risk vulnerabilities, make sure internal protocols are in place to install patches outside of the normal patching cycle. This ensures that emergencies are planned for and addressed early on, minimizing any risk to your data.

Failover and Backups

System redundancy is an absolute essential. In the event of critical failure, there should always be an automatic backup ready to take over. Check to see if failover plans are regularly tested and reviewed.

The service should also carefully protect network security. Look for safety measures that keep networks airtight like firewalls, 24/7 event monitoring, and Denial-of-Service (DoS) prevention.

Identity & Authentication

When accessing a service, user authorization is typically sent over HTTPS and secured by a email and password combo. HTTPS simply means that requests sent to a website are encrypted during transport. For most cloud-based tools, this should be standard procedure.

Data Encryption

Check to make sure the service offers end-to-end encryption of customer data, including during transit and at rest. Your user data, financial information, and content should always be authenticated and coded to protect its integrity.

For example, let’s say your company’s considering a service that makes VoIP calls. Since conversations are traveling via the web, content must be guarded with layers of encryption, replay protection, and message authentication. This way, any sniffed voice packets with sensitive company information are nearly impossible to decipher.

Keep in mind that this is your biggest deal breaker. You shouldn’t consider a tool unless it protects your data 24/7 using robust layers of encryption.

Secure Administration

Most cloud tools offer both vertical and horizontal access control. Users can’t access the data of another user, and admin privileges are set. Having role-based control puts account administrators in the driver’s seat so they have the freedom to manage and scale their organization.

When we think of the cloud, it’s easy to imagine our digital activities flowing through a delicate hub. But in reality, the cloud is a concrete network of physical servers orchestrating countless channels of information transfer and storage.  

IT concerns regarding the cloud make sense. Without the right protective layers in place, your data could easily find itself in vulnerable situations.

Luckily, you don’t have to compromise to access the cloud’s benefits. By carefully evaluating a services’ security measures, you’ll be able to pick out tools that are secure, reliable, and designed to protect your data at every stage of its lifecycle.

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