9 tips for avoiding security hazards with cloud apps

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One of the reasons we love cloud apps is that they’re so easy to use. Just sign up and voila, you’re all set. But for B2B companies, the benefits often hide some serious dangers, such as intellectual property security, data sharing/breaches, SLAs, how it integrates with your current network, encryption of sensitive data while it’s in transit, and more.

We previously covered the security issues over bring-your-own-cloud-apps here.

For some B2B organizations, the hazards of the cloud outweigh the benefits, as many IT pros don’t trust their cloud service provider to protect their data, so they’re not willing to invest heavily in the technology. Yet the ease of use and overall IT management of cloud solutions make them appealing to use; that’s why more B2B enterprises are moving their mission-critical operations to cloud-based solutions.

Here are nine tips to avoid the hazards and how B2B companies can use the cloud to realize the full benefits it can offer.

Users just don’t realize the risks: This is the #1 hazard to using a cloud solution in an enterprise setting. Business users only see cloud applications as productivity enhancers, making their lives easier, faster, and more efficient. They’re not considering the organization’s IT and Security policies when they sign up for them, and IT doesn’t have a chance to assess the solution and vet it for data security and storage compliance.

Virtual exploits add another doorway to cybercrime: Cloud service providers use a lot of virtualization in their environments; it’s one of the reasons they’re able to offer their services at a much cheaper price. Yet those virtual servers are still housed on a physical machine somewhere (there are just more servers on each machine.) That means that each virtual server is vulnerable to the usual physical machine exploits, but also the virtual exploits too. Cloud users should be aware of what virtualization products the cloud provider is using, and what their security and mitigation protocols are.

Data residency restrictions apply to the cloud too: As online privacy and transparency issues continue to become more formalized, B2B companies need to know exactly where in the world their data is being stored. Certain types of customer information needs to be kept within a specific geographic jurisdiction, and there are legal implications if it’s not.

Industry data regulation affects cloud-based data: B2B organizations have access to data that can be highly regulated and restricted, and we’re not just talking about customer address information. Healthcare data, financial transaction information, data storage limits, and other regulations require that organizations follow defined standards to safeguard this data and comply with applicable laws. Storing data in the cloud could unknowingly break one of these regulations and leave organizations open to criminal proceedings.

B2B contractual clauses on data storage: Because of all these new guidelines and laws being put in place around the world, B2B customers are requiring additional provisions about data storage to be included in their service contracts. They want to be sure that their data is treated in a particular manner by you, the B2B service provider. If you use other cloud solutions as part of your service offering, be sure to understand the implications of it to your customers.

Understand where the data goes and how it goes there: IT teams should familiarize themselves with data-centric security tools that work both inside and outside their network, such as cloud data encryption and tokenization tools. They should be able to retain control of their data as it goes through the three phases of the cloud data lifecycle: in-transit, at rest, and in-use.

Insist on robust authentication, authorization, and access controls from your cloud provider: If they’re not able to tell you how often they look for and remove inactive accounts, what type of authentication is required by privileged users, or what type of single-sign-on (SSO) protocol they use, you may want to choose a different cloud provider.

Do your own data backups, even if your cloud provider says they do it too: Losing data today can impact more than just your overtime budget. It can leave you open to litigation from customers whose data was lost, cybercriminals who sell it to the highest bidder, and lead to severe reputation damage in the marketplace. Don’t just rely on the cloud provider to backup your data. Do your own backups regularly.

Bonus tip: use more than one cloud service to minimize the risk of widespread data loss or downtime. At the very least this will keep you online and working while you switch over to the secondary cloud service provider.

Educate all employees on security in the cloud: It’s not just about the technology when it comes to cloud security. People play an important role as well. By developing robust data governance policies and educating all employees on them, you’ll avoid costly mistakes in the future. Assign both business and IT representatives to draft and review these policies, so that every contingency can be considered and included.

Today’s digital economy leads us to harness new and exciting technologies because they’re easy to use and implement. Business employees love cloud solutions because they’re so easy to use and implement, however they’re an IT pro’s worst nightmare. Especially when it comes to data.

Yet by embracing the benefits of cloud solutions with a clear and open IT mind, B2B organizations can avoid the pitfalls and hazards that come with it.

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Julia Borgini

Julia Borgini

Julia Borgini is a technology writer, copywriter and consultant for B2B technology companies. She helps them connect with people and grow their business with helpful content and copy. Visit her website to see who she’s helping today: www.spacebarpress.com