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Data Security in Cloud Computing: Who Is Responsible?

Cloud data security refers to the strategies, policies, and tools employed to protect sensitive information stored in cloud computing environments. To safeguard sensitive data and infrastructure, organizations must establish measures, policies, and technologies that secure their cloud computing environment. This includes protecting not only the stored data but also the infrastructure supporting it.

Discover who is responsible for data security in cloud computing, what are the primary risks, and what you as a cloud customer can do to mitigate those risks.

In this article:

Who Is Responsible for Cloud Data Security?

To ensure sensitive information remains secure, it is crucial to understand the shared responsibility of cloud data security between Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and customers.

Cloud Service Provider (CSP) Responsibilities

CSPs play a vital role in maintaining the overall infrastructure supporting their services. Their primary responsibilities include:

Customer Responsibilities

The user or organization using cloud services also has several key responsibilities related to ensuring proper protection of their sensitive information within these environments. These include:

Common Cloud Data Security Risks

As organizations increasingly adopt cloud computing, it is crucial to understand the potential security risks associated with this technology.

Data Breaches

Data breaches are one of the most significant threats in cloud computing. Unauthorized access to confidential data can result in substantial financial losses, harm to reputation, and potential legal repercussions. To prevent data breaches, organizations should implement strong encryption methods and access controls while also monitoring their environment for any suspicious activities.

Insecure APIs

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) play a critical role in enabling communication between different software components within a cloud environment. However, insecure APIs can expose an organization’s data and infrastructure to attackers who exploit vulnerabilities or misconfigurations. It is essential for IT teams to secure their APIs by following best practices such as input validation, authentication mechanisms, and regular vulnerability assessments.

Lack of Visibility and Control Over Data Storage

In a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud setup where multiple service providers are involved in storing your organization’s data across various locations worldwide, there may be limited visibility into where exactly your sensitive information resides at any given time. This lack of control increases the risk of unauthorized access or non-compliance with regulatory requirements like GDPR or HIPAA. Organizations must work closely with their cloud service providers (CSPs) to ensure they properly manage storage locations and adhere to compliance requirements.

Insider Threats

Insider threats, both malicious and unintentional, pose a significant risk to cloud data security. Employees or contractors with privileged access can intentionally or accidentally compromise sensitive information. To mitigate insider threats, organizations should implement strict identity and access management (IAM) policies, conduct regular audits of user activities, and provide ongoing security awareness training.

Account Hijacking and Misuse of Credentials

Cybercriminals often target weak or stolen credentials to gain unauthorized access to an organization’s cloud environment. Once inside the system, they can exfiltrate sensitive data or launch attacks on other systems within the network. Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA), monitoring for suspicious account activity, and educating employees about phishing scams are some measures that can help prevent account hijacking.

Inadequate Security Configurations & Management

Poorly configured cloud environments create vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit easily. It is essential to modify the default configurations provided by CSPs according to industry standards such as those specified in the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) for greater security. Regular audits of your cloud infrastructure will also help identify any misconfigurations promptly.

Cloud Data Security Best Practices

Leverage Advanced Encryption Capabilities

Ensure the use of strong encryption algorithms such as AES-256 to protect sensitive data both at rest and during transit, along with tokenization for added security. Make sure that all sensitive information stored in the cloud is encrypted both at rest and during transit using robust algorithms like AES-256. Additionally, consider employing techniques such as tokenization for an added layer of protection.

Implement Data Loss Prevention Measures

Data loss can occur due to accidental deletion or malicious activities. Implementing effective data loss prevention (DLP) solutions can help you monitor user activity within the cloud environment and prevent unauthorized sharing or leakage of sensitive information. DLP tools also allow organizations to enforce policies that restrict certain actions related to sensitive data based on predefined rules.

Enable Unified Visibility Across Private, Hybrid, and Multi-Cloud Environments

To effectively manage risks associated with multiple clouds deployments, it is crucial to have a comprehensive view of your entire infrastructure through a single pane of glass. Utilize tools like Cloud Management Platforms (CMPs) to gain visibility into your cloud resources, monitor performance, and optimize costs across private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments.

Ensure Security Posture and Governance

Continuous surveillance of conformance with sector regulations and norms is necessary to preserve a sound security posture. Implement cloud security posture management (CSPM) tools to identify misconfigurations in real-time and enforce policies that align with best practices such as the CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark.

Strengthen Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Identity and access management (IAM) is essential for controlling who has access to your cloud resources. Strengthen IAM through the utilization of MFA, SSO, RBAC, and least privilege principles to reduce potential unauthorized access or data breaches.

Leverage Cloud Workload Protection

To safeguard against threats targeting cloud workloads, deploy cloud workload protection platforms (CWPPs). These solutions provide runtime protection for virtual machines, containers, serverless functions, and other workloads by continuously monitoring activity patterns using advanced analytics techniques such as machine learning.

Learn more in our detailed guide to data security best practices and data security solutions

Data Protection with Cloudian

Data protection requires powerful storage technology. Cloudian’s storage appliances are easy to deploy and use, let you store Petabyte-scale data and access it instantly. Cloudian supports high-speed backup and restore with parallel data transfer (18TB per hour writes with 16 nodes).

Cloudian provides durability and availability for your data. HyperStore can backup and archive your data, providing you with highly available versions to restore in times of need.

In HyperStore, storage occurs behind the firewall, you can configure geo boundaries for data access, and define policies for data sync between user devices. HyperStore gives you the power of cloud-based file sharing in an on-premise device, and the control to protect your data in any cloud environment.

Learn more about data protection with Cloudian.

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