It’s no secret – managing cloud security risks is a complex job. Even if your business starts off on the right foot, security tends to degrade over time as multiple new cloud services are added, privileges change, users and admins move in and out of the business, devices are added and removed, and assets stored on the cloud change. These changes are natural, but they do increase the cloud attack surface, creating vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to take advantage of. Here are some tips to help reduce this risk and keep your organisation secure on the cloud.
#1 – Apply the Rule of Least Privileged Access
This essentially means that your employees have the minimum access privileges needed in order to do their jobs, so they aren’t able to access data, projects or privileges that are above their role. This helps limit the extent of human errors as well as potentially malicious activities. If their access is compromised in any way, this will help limit the damage to their specific area of focus.
It’s just as important to regularly revise privileges as employee roles change. Employees who have left or been terminated should have their access removed on the same day. Where an employee has changed roles, their access should similarly change at the same time.
In addition to applying to all employees, these policies should be applied to external contractors, guests and other non-employees as well.
#2 – Implement Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication should be implemented on all operation-critical cloud services and SaaS. This can include biometric security, SMS authentication, time-based one-time passwords or confirmation email authentication. The reality is that no matter how effective your firewalls, encryption technology and antivirus software is, something as simple as a stolen password can allow cybercriminals full access to your company data. Multi-factor identification is one of the only – and most effective – ways to prevent that, creating a solid foundation for your cloud security by preventing stolen passwords from being used to access your data.
#3 – Separate Admin Accounts
Employees who act as administrators should have separate admin and work accounts both to prevent the abuse of admin privileges for non-admin tasks and to lower risks in the event that an account is breached or compromised. This also ensures that the admin account maintains a lower profile, reducing exposure to phishing attacks and malware.
#4 – Address Shadow IT
While not inherently a negative thing, shadow IT is on the rise – especially as employees continue to work from home. From unsanctioned software and unsecured devices to the risk of compliance issues and data loss, shadow IT is often invisible to your organisation until things start going wrong. It is essential to have a robust shadow IT and BYOD policy along with staff training and IT support to ensure shadow devices are registered and secured properly before they are allowed access to your network, SaaS or LaaS, allowing employees and businesses to benefit from the use of personal devices without increasing security risks.
#5 – Limit Public Resources
Often, employees share documentation and data to employees far beyond the scope of their team or project, making them available throughout the company rather than sharing with the specific team members it is relevant to. Clearly, this puts this data at risk, as anyone – regardless of their level of privileges – will be able to access, download and share this data, no matter how operation critical or sensitive it is.
Mitigating this risk involves a change of mindset as well as a clear IT security policy, helping employees to understand how they are exposing the organisation to risk and empowering them to play a vital role in keeping this data secure.
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