Cloud Security Best Practices Businesses Should Follow in 2023

Publication date: Feb 10, 2023

Last Published: Feb 10, 2023

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Read Time : 7 minutes

The world is becoming increasingly digital, and businesses of all sizes are exploring new technologies to gain a competitive edge. One such technology is cloud computing, whose global market is expected to reach $37 billion by 2026, up from $29.5 billion in 2020.

A lot has been said and written about the benefits of cloud computing. So much so, in fact, that it can be easy to forget about the risks that come with it. That’s a huge problem because cybercriminals never forget to target companies whose defenses are not strong enough, as the 2022 Thales Cloud Security Report, which found 45 percent of businesses have experienced a cloud-based data breach in the past 12 months, illustrates.

The good news is that cloud security isn’t an impossible mountain to climb. With proper planning, tools, and a support team, you’ll be able to confidently reach the summit.

So grab a cup of your favorite warm beverage and get ready to tackle the climb with our in-depth guide on the essential cloud security best practices all businesses should follow in 2023.

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Cloud Security for Businesses Is About Shared Responsibility

A key concept in cloud security is shared responsibility. Basically, businesses that rely on cloud services share the responsibility for various aspects of their security with their providers. In contrast, businesses with on-premises IT infrastructures have sole responsibility and accountability for all aspects of their security.

The exact aspects of cloud security a business is responsible for depend on the type of cloud service they are using:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): The provider is responsible for securing the software it offers and the IT infrastructure the software runs on. The customer is responsible for securing its data, devices, and accounts.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): The provider is responsible for securing the platform it offers and the underlying IT infrastructure. The customer is responsible for securing its applications, data, devices, and accounts.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The provider is responsible for securing the IT infrastructure. The customer is responsible for securing its operating system, network controls, applications, data, devices, and accounts.

Source: Shared responsibility in the cloud (Microsoft)

What all this means in practice is that SaaS tools like Trello, Slack, or OneDrive take less effort on the part of the companies that use them to secure than IaaS and PaaS offerings like AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform.

Cloud Security Best Practices for 2023

Now that we’ve established that cloud security is a team sport, with each player having their unique role and responsibilities on the field, let’s dive deep into the cloud security best practices all companies whose data is floating in the cloud should follow in 2023.

Partner With a Trusted Cloud Provider

You can implement all other cloud security best practices described in this article to perfection, but it won’t matter a bit if you skip this one—that’s how important choosing a trusted cloud provider is.

Depending on the type of cloud service model you choose, your cloud provider will be responsible for everything from physical servers to the systems running on them to individual applications. You definitely don’t want to find out that the provider’s data center isn’t encrypted, lacks basic physical access controls, or isn’t properly monitored.

If you need to comply with regulatory standards like HIPAA or PCI DSS, then your provider should have corresponding compliance certifications so that you’re both following the same strategy. The best providers clearly document their security policies, procedures, and controls, giving you a good understanding of what you can expect.

Implement Tight Control of User Access

Just because cloud services make it easy for users to access them from anywhere and using any device doesn’t mean that’s what companies should enable employees to do. Why not? Because IDC and Ermetic estimate that access-related vulnerabilities are behind 83 percent of cloud security breaches.

To minimize the risk of experiencing a cloud security breach related to access vulnerabilities, cybersecurity experts recommend companies to follow the principle of least privilege, giving users the minimum access rights necessary to complete their assigned tasks.

But giving users the right privileges is only one part of the equation. You also need to revoke privileges when users change roles or leave your company to prevent cybersecurity incidents caused by negligent or malicious insiders.

Educate Users on Cloud Security Risks

Your users are not just the consumers of cloud services—they’re your first line of defense against cyber threats. Just like real soldiers are much more likely to stop the enemy dead in their tracks if they know what they’re up against, users who are educated on the latest cloud security threats and best practices are much more likely to spot and stop potential security breaches before they occur.

For example, users should know the difference between a weak password and a strong one, understand how accessing cloud services using public Wi-Fi networks can expose their sensitive information to malicious third parties, and be aware of the most common types of social engineering attacks.

In addition to educating users on cloud security risks, you should strive to create a cybersecurity culture within your company. This means making cybersecurity a top priority of everyone from the C-suite to frontline workers.

Protect All User Endpoints

When it comes to security, many providers of cloud services present themselves as digital fortresses, promising to protect their customers’ data with state-of-the-art cybersecurity measures. Of course, cybercriminals know how well-protected cloud services are, which is why they like to target those who use them instead.

Most employees use multiple endpoints (desktop computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and so on) to access the cloud services they need to do their jobs, and each endpoint represents a potential intrusion point for cybercriminals.

To mitigate this risk, you need to protect all user endpoints and prevent them from becoming dangerous cracks in your defenses. Modern endpoint protection solutions like Microsoft Defender for Endpoint make this task much easier, allowing you to obtain an all-encompassing perspective of your network from a single platform.

Classify Your Data

Not all data is equally sensitive, so different types of data shouldn’t be grouped together and treated the same way when stored in the cloud, and that’s where the practice of data classification comes in. By properly labeling and categorizing your data, you can ensure that appropriate levels of security measures are in place to protect it.

Once your data is classified, you can effortlessly filter it out to find only certain data assets, see where specific data classes are stored within your company, and enforce policies to mitigate the risks associated with your most important data, among other things.

Companies that store their data in Microsoft’s cloud can perform data classification using the Microsoft Purview governance portal. Microsoft Purview is designed to help companies take control of their on-premises, multi-cloud, and SaaS data, providing a unified map of all data assets, and its easy-to-use nature makes it suitable for all companies that want to improve risk and compliance posture.

Conclusion on Best Practices in Cloud Security for Businesses

With the increased use of cloud services comes an increased risk of cloud-related cyber security incidents. To mitigate this risk, companies need to implement the best practices described in this article while keeping in mind that their cloud providers are also responsible for keeping cyber threats at bay. Only then can the cloud be the excellent source of competitive advantage it is intended to be.

We at OSIbeyond have helped many companies plan and secure their cloud environments, and we would be happy to do the same for you. Schedule a free consultation with us to get started.

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