Protecting Sensitive Data in Cloud Environments: Technology Checklist

Cloud computing has become central to the way we work, consume and socialise. This large-scale shift to the cloud has added to the complexity of cybersecurity and multiplied the potential threats facing both businesses and consumers.

Online security threats are proliferating all the time – and they’re becoming increasingly complex, too. This poses particular challenges for small and medium-sized businesses, which lack the kind of financial firepower that their larger competitors can throw at cybersecurity.

Robust cloud security is nonetheless essential for SMEs. Data breaches can carry huge reputational costs, all the more damaging for smaller businesses seeking to establish themselves. In this blog, we’ll look at what your business can do to protect sensitive data stored in the cloud.

  1. Why cloud security matters for your SME
  2. Quick security wins
  3. Smart strategies
  4. Stay vigilant
  5. Compliance is key
  6. Partnering for protection
  7. Keep learning

 

Why cloud security matters for your SME

Reliable cloud security is important for SMEs for numerous reasons. In particular, SMEs often handle sensitive data – such as customer information and financial records – and need to be able to protect this from security breaches and cyberattacks.

Also, smaller businesses are often subject to regulatory requirements relating to data protection (such as GDPR). Robust cybersecurity can help SMEs to met their compliance requirements by ensuring that appropriate security measures are in place to protect data and assets stored in the cloud.

Businesses also store critical business data and applications in the cloud, and they need to ensure that these remain accessible in the event of a cyberattack or system failure. This helps to maintain business continuity and minimise disruption to operations.

The reputational costs of security breaches must also not be underestimated. Customers, as well as stakeholders and business partners, could rapidly lose trust in a business if data were compromised. Strong security measures are therefore needed to protect SMEs’ reputation and maintain trust.

 

Quick security wins

Smaller businesses can bolster their cybersecurity and protect sensitive information stored in the cloud with a couple of quick wins:

  • Encrypt your data: SMEs must ensure that their data is unreadable if unauthorised parties gain access to it. Encryption scrambles data into an unreadable format so that it is indecipherable to unauthorised users – so even if a hacker gains access, they won’t be able to read of it without the decryption key. This significantly reduces security risks.
  • Access control: Strong passwords and two-factor authentication can keep your data away from prying eyes. Implementing access control measures limits access to sensitive data only to those who need to see it. This helps to mitigate insider threats and bolster protection against unauthorised access, as well as maintaining data integrity.

 

Smart strategies

To keep data and assets securely stored in the cloud, SMEs need to think strategically about their cybersecurity. This includes the following:

  • Know your data: Be sure to identify what counts as sensitive data and apply extra protection to it. Identifying sensitive data and implementing appropriate security measures is crucial for regulatory obligations as well as safeguarding information. Conduct a risk assessment to identify potential threats and vulnerabilities that might affect sensitive data.
  • Choose wisely: When choosing a cloud provider, you must make sure to choose one that has a strong track record when it comes to cybersecurity. Research prospective cloud providers thoroughly. Look at their websites and see what they have to say about cybersecurity, and look for reviews from previous customers to find out whether you can trust them.

 

Stay vigilant

Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving and growing more sophisticated. This is why you must adopt a posture of ongoing security vigilance:

  • Monitor regularly: Keep a watchful eye on your systems to ensure that unauthorised parties aren’t gaining access to sensitive information. Watch out for signs of unusual access or data usage, as these could be reliable indicators of a potential security breach. You could go one step further and work with a partner to implement a data loss prevention solution (DLP). DLP identifies, monitors, and protects sensitive data by classifying it, monitoring its movement and usage, enforcing security policies, and responding to incidents to prevent unauthorised access, use, or transmission.
  • Be prepared: You must have a clear plan in place in the event of data breaches or losses. This can significantly mitigate the risks to customers, partners and other stakeholders. It should include a designated incident response team and procedures including incident detection, assessment, containment, recovery and post-incident analysis.

 

Compliance is key

Small and medium-sized businesses may be subject to various data protection guidelines and regulations, which will include obligations relating to data security. Compliance with these data protections and guidelines is important for various reasons.

Firstly, data protection regulations carry legal obligations and, as a result, legal consequences – including penalties, fines and potential compensation claims – where firms have failed to comply. This can result in significant financial penalties as well as reputational damage.

If you’re operating a business, you must ensure that you’re following data protection regulations relevant to your region and industry. This can bolster customer trust and your business’s reputation, demonstrating to customers and clients that you are committed to protecting their privacy.

 

Partnering for protection

It is important to remember that very few businesspeople are cybersecurity experts. This is why it’s worth bringing in an IT partner with the skills and expertise to take charge of online security and keep sensitive information safely under lock and key.

You should consider recruiting an IT provider to manage and streamline your cloud security provisions in a cost-effective and reliable manner. Make sure you research your chosen IT partner thoroughly before entering into any agreement.

 

Keep learning

As we’ve mentioned already, SMEs must remain vigilant about the ever-changing nature of the cybersecurity threats facing them. Your employees have an important role to play in upholding online security and must be made aware of their responsibilities in this regard.

That said, it’s down to their employer to ensure that their team is educated about cybersecurity obligations and what they can do to keep your business – and its clients and customers – safe from data breaches. Regular training should be provided on an ongoing basis, taking account of new cybersecurity dangers as and when they emerge.

 

Final thought

While data breaches are a very real danger for SMEs storing information in the cloud, effective security measures can do much to mitigate these threats. With the right partnerships, and an expert IT partner in place, your business can continue to use the cloud securely and with confidence.

Sentis is passionate about helping businesses make the best use of technology. We provide outstanding customer service and a wide range of IT services, including managed services, ERP and CRM consultancy, application hosting and cloud services. Contact us today to find out more.