Data security is a constant concern for today's businesses, and the challenge seems to become greater every day. That's because hackers are always developing new strategies for capturing information, compromising system integrity, and even extorting businesses. This includes advancements in ransomware attacks, high-profile data breaches, and other hacks that can leave your business's clients vulnerable and compromise your reputation. So, what can you do to secure your organization's data?

While there's no such thing as a completely secure system, there are several steps your company can take to protect its data, especially if you're using a cloud-based storage system. Though it demands constant vigilance, there are many steps you can take to build up your data defenses.

Understanding Cloud Conditions

In recent years, a huge amount of data has moved from private servers to cloud platforms, and in many ways, this has been a net positive for businesses. After all, cloud platforms often allow staff to work remotely, are easily scalable, and are typically more affordable to maintain. Additionally, and of particular value for smaller companies without full-scale IT departments, cloud-based data storage comes with its own security infrastructure. The problem is that, depending on the service provider, the quality of that security varies.

Essentially, the problem facing cloud service providers and their clients is as follows; physically, the cloud is more secure than older server technology. However, cloud technology has also allowed for a proliferation of devices and applications and these are not always secure. As such, organizations need to carefully vet any service before adoption and remain alert for problems, especially during system upgrades.

Steps Toward Security

As the above examination of cloud storage and software suggests, not all cloud-based services are created equal. While some systems are highly vulnerable or poorly maintained - as evidenced by the case in which hackers took over accounts and lurked inside an aviation firm's software system for years before being discovered - other organizations take their security very seriously. These organizations are mindful of best practices across a variety of industries and they use those norms to optimize their systems' security.

In addition to their embrace of specific security norms, such as HIPAA or FINRA compliance, customers can evaluate a cloud-based service provider's security practices by looking for some of the following features:

  • Data encryption practices: Cloud security providers should encrypt data both while it's in storage and when it's being transferred. Too often, we only consider encryption during the transfer process, but it should actually be a constant.

  • Multi-factor authentication: MFA can be an annoyance, but it's become a standard part of accessing any service for a reason. By requiring multiple inputs sourced through different points of contact, such as the combination of a password and unique text message code, service providers can better ensure only authorized parties are accessing data.

  • Lifecycle compliance: As mentioned above, providers whose services are in compliance with major industry standards are typically more trustworthy than those offering a less specific approach to data protection. That being said, it's important that these providers stay up to date with changing regulations, since standards for these programs are frequently updated based on new security threats.

Evaluating Data Safety

Reviewing your cloud service provider's security norms and history can offer significant insight into whether they can offer the necessary protections your data deserves. You may also consider doing an internal security audit, asking questions about whether staff are using sufficiently secure passwords, for example, and ensuring that you are creating a culture of security within your organization. In some cases, organizations also employ ethical hackers to determine whether or not they are vulnerable to a data breach due to their choice of cloud services. 

Hackers will always be seeking new ways to infiltrate organizations' data, but cloud providers are doing their best to fight back. It's hard work and an imperfect process, but if your business is serving as an active partner in securing your data, then you're already on the right path.