The Hidden Risks of Cloud Data Storage

Cloud storage provides numerous benefits that make it an attractive option for organizations. Before the advent of cloud storage around 2006 and the subsequent mass migration in the late 2010s, it was hard to imagine accessing your data from anywhere with an internet connection—perfect for remote work and global collaboration. Nowadays, cloud storage grows with your business, effortlessly meeting your expanding data needs without the hassle of additional hardware. Whether or not it’s budget-friendly is up for debate, but the thought is that it cuts down on the costs of maintaining and upgrading on-premises storage. And let's not forget about the backup and disaster recovery options, ensuring your data stays safe even when hardware issues arise.

However, this convenience comes with risks that can compromise your sensitive data. Surprisingly, many are still unaware of these hidden dangers, leading to breaches and data loss. Data breaches, data loss due to technical issues, and misconfigured settings are common risks associated with companies storing data in their cloud environments. Recognizing and addressing these risks is crucial for protecting your “crown jewels.” By understanding the balance between the benefits and risks of cloud storage, organizations can implement the necessary security measures to safeguard their data.

Common Risks Associated with Cloud Storage

  1. Data Breaches: Cloud environments are attractive targets for cybercriminals. Unauthorized access can occur through vulnerabilities in cloud storage systems, weak passwords, or social engineering attacks.
  2. Data Loss: Reliance on cloud providers means that server failures, software bugs, or provider outages can result in data loss. Proper backups are mandatory.
  3. Misconfigured Settings: Incorrect configuration of cloud storage settings can leave data exposed. For example, improperly set permissions can allow unauthorized access to sensitive data.
  4. Compliance and Legal Risks: Storing data in the cloud can create compliance challenges, especially when data crosses international borders. Ensuring compliance with regulations like GDPR, CCPA, or HIPAA is critical to avoid legal repercussions.
  5. Insider Threats: Employees or contractors with access to sensitive data can intentionally or unintentionally cause data breaches.
  6. Shared Technology Vulnerabilities: Cloud storage often relies on shared infrastructure, which can be exploited if vulnerabilities are present in the underlying technology.
  7. Third-Party Risks: Using third-party vendors for cloud services can introduce risks if they do not adhere to strong security practices.
  8. Data Residency and Sovereignty: Different countries have varying laws about data storage, which can complicate compliance and increase legal risks.
  9. API and Interface Vulnerabilities: Weaknesses in cloud service APIs and interfaces can be exploited to gain unauthorized access to data.
  10. Lack of Visibility and Control: Organizations may lack visibility into who is accessing data and how it is being used, making it difficult to detect and respond to threats.

Essential Security Practices for Cloud Data Protection

  1. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Adds a second layer of security beyond passwords.
  2. Data Encryption: Encrypt data in transit and at rest to protect it from unauthorized access.
  3. Regular Software Updates: Keep software up-to-date to fix vulnerabilities.
  4. Regular Backups: Ensure data recovery in case of loss by storing backups separately from primary storage.
  5. Access Controls: Implement role-based access controls (RBAC) to ensure only authorized users can access sensitive data.
  6. Security Training: Educate employees on security best practices, including recognizing phishing attempts and other social engineering attacks.
  7. Monitoring and Logging: Continuously monitor and log access and activity to detect suspicious behavior and respond quickly to potential threats.
  8. Network Security: Use firewalls, VPNs, and secure network architecture to protect data from unauthorized access during transit.
  9. Incident Response Plan: Develop and regularly update an incident response plan to quickly address and mitigate the effects of data breaches or security incidents.
  10. Data Minimization: To reduce the risk surface, only store the data you need and ensure unnecessary data is securely deleted.
  11. Third-Party Risk Management: Assess and monitor the security practices of third-party vendors to ensure they meet your security standards.

How Dasera Helps Secure Your Cloud Data

Dasera automates data security and governance controls, ensuring continuous protection and compliance. Key features include:

  1. Continuous Monitoring: Dasera’s platform continuously monitors data access and usage, detecting unusual activities and potential threats in real-time. This helps organizations respond promptly to suspicious behavior and mitigate risks before they escalate.
  2. Automated Policy Enforcement: Dasera automates policy enforcement to ensure compliance with industry standards and regulatory requirements. This reduces the risk of human error and ensures that security policies are consistently applied across all data environments.
  3. Alert Systems: Dasera’s alert systems notify you immediately of any policy violations or potential security threats. This allows for swift action to address vulnerabilities and prevent data breaches.
  4. Data Discovery and Classification: Dasera’s tools automatically discover and classify sensitive data across your cloud environments. This ensures that all critical data is identified, categorized, and protected according to sensitivity level.
  5. User Activity Analysis: Dasera provides detailed insights into who is accessing your data and how it is used. This helps identify unusual patterns or unauthorized access, enhancing data security and compliance.
  6. Comprehensive Reporting: Dasera offers comprehensive reporting features that provide data security and visibility on compliance status. These reports can be used for audits and to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements.
  7. Integration with Existing Security Tools: Dasera integrates seamlessly with your existing security infrastructure, enhancing your overall security posture without disrupting current workflows.
  8. Risk Assessment and Management: Dasera helps assess and manage risks associated with data storage and usage, providing actionable insights to improve data security strategies.

Tips for Continuous Cloud Storage Security

  1. Regularly Update Security Settings: As your data environment evolves, ensure your security settings keep pace. Review and update configurations regularly to protect against emerging threats and vulnerabilities.
  2. Conduct Regular Security Audits: Schedule periodic security audits to identify and address potential weaknesses in your cloud storage. This proactive approach helps maintain a robust security posture and ensures compliance with industry standards.
  3. Educate Your Team: Empower your team with knowledge about best security practices. Conduct training sessions on using strong passwords, recognizing phishing attempts, and adhering to security protocols. A well-informed team is a critical line of defense against security breaches.
  4. Use Automated Security Solutions: Leverage tools like Dasera to automate data security and governance. Automation enhances efficiency and ensures continuous monitoring and real-time response to potential threats, freeing up your team to focus on strategic security initiatives.

By implementing these tips, data and security leaders can create a dynamic and resilient security framework that adapts to risks and protects valuable data assets.

The convenience of companies storing data in the cloud comes with significant risks that can compromise sensitive data. From data breaches and loss to compliance challenges and insider threats, the potential dangers are numerous and often underestimated and underfunded.

Organizations must recognize these risks and balance leveraging the benefits of cloud and budget while implementing the appropriate security measures. It’s the job of data and security leaders to ensure that the “crown jewels” are protected against these hidden threats. Dasera provides automated data security and governance solutions that help you monitor, protect, and manage your cloud data.

Don't wait until a breach occurs. Contact Dasera today to learn how we can help you safeguard your cloud data and ensure continuous protection and compliance. Your data's security is too important to leave to chance.


David Mundy