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Cloud Data Protection

Learn all about cloud data protection solutions and best practices to enable cloud data security across your organization.

Cloud data protection refers to practices, policies, and security solutions that allow for the security of data in the cloud. This is typically enabled by enhancing an organization’s visibility into the data it stores within cloud environments, so that it can apply security workflows and policies that ensure data is not abused or misplaced. For example, companies might want to ensure that customer data is not accessible within public Google Drive folders, and instead relegated to folders with restricted permissions or only accessible to a specific employee group. To ensure this is the case, companies often build cloud data security programs that define the cloud security and cloud data protection policies which need to be in place. These are then enforced by deploying cloud data protection solutions.

What are the most common cloud data security challenges?

Migrating and storing data in the cloud comes with a number of security challenges, these can include:

  • Poor visibility of data & permissions

    Unlike traditional IT environments—like corporate networks and data centers—cloud environments are distributed and can include multiple distinct systems. This means that without thorough asset and data inventories, it’s very easy to lose track of what cloud systems are in use, who has access to these systems, what permissions these individuals have, and what data is ingressing and egressing through these environments. All of these factors can affect how easily data can be moved or exfiltrated from your organization.

  • Data sprawl

    Because cloud systems are distributed and perimeter-less, the issue of data sprawl is extremely prevalent in the cloud. Data sprawl refers to the excessive proliferation of sensitive data or systems that contain sensitive data. Data sprawl is caused when cloud adoption is unmanaged, and in turn it increases the unmanageability of cloud systems. When data sprawl occurs, getting a handle of who within your organization has access to sensitive data can become challenging.

  • Limited out-of-box access controls

    ost cloud systems rely on a shared responsibility model, where the end-users are responsible for securing the data they store in these environments based on their organization’s specific security requirements and compliance obligations. This doesn’t mean that cloud systems are inherently insecure, but means that deliberate thought must be put into identifying the policies, application settings, and even third-party security solutions that will enable an organization to monitor cloud environments and reduce access of business-critical data to a need-to-use/need-to-know basis.

  • Difficulty with cyber hygiene

    The absence of a perimeter means that cloud data security heavily centers on limiting the sensitive data you store in cloud environments, rather than keeping attackers out. This means the practice of cyber hygiene is critically important. Cyber hygiene reduces your data attack surface by pruning environments of unneeded data and ensuring the security of cloud environments. Doing this, however, can be difficult without investing in cloud data protection solutions and developing detailed cloud security policies.

Why does cloud data protection matter?

  1. Data breaches Misconfigured cloud systems are often low hanging fruit for hackers, often exposing business-critical data in plaintext over the open internet with The Cloud Security Alliance suggesting that over 60% of all SaaS security incidents stem from misconfigurations. However, even when security misconfigurations aren’t present, poor data hygiene can result in threat actors easily stumbling upon sensitive data with little effort.
  2. Data Loss and theft from authorized parties Without cloud data protection, your cloud environments are fully permeable, and users can intentionally or unintentionally move sensitive data that should not be replicated into personal cloud environments or other locations where you don’t have visibility or control.
  3. Compliance In order to demonstrate compliance with data security regulations like HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, and private sector standards like ISO 27001 and SOC 2, you must put in place controls like cloud data protection to monitor ingress and egress of data in cloud environments and prevent data flow into unsanctioned environments.
  4. Reputational risk Should it become known that your organization has experienced data security issues, customers as well as vendors, partners, and investors may lose confidence in your company’s brand.

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