Cybercrime is on the rise. Our increasingly data-driven global economy presents golden opportunities to hackers. To stem the tide of leaks, breaches and attacks, large organizations are increasingly looking to the cloud for data security. And with good reason.

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It’s open season on corporate data. The average organization faces more than a hundred targeted cyberattacks each year, and one out of three attempts will result in a successful security breach. In other words, your company may face up to three effective attacks each month.

To make matters worse, it can take months or even years to detect the more sophisticated breaches, giving cybercriminals ample time to capitalize on their efforts. And even then, internal security teams only manage to catch 65 percent of all ongoing threats.

These are concerning statistics, to be sure, and they clearly illustrate the importance of data security. Keeping your data safe from internal and external breaches should be front and center in your mind. However, conventional wisdom is no longer your greatest ally. In this day and age, improving security means embracing the cloud.

Ask the Right Questions to Keep Your Data Secure in the Cloud

Despite its meteoric rise, the cloud still makes many organizations feel uneasy – especially where data security is concerned. At first glance, this seems understandable. After all, who wouldn’t think twice about putting their most valuable possessions in the hands of an outsider?

Under closer scrutiny, these misgivings fall apart entirely. Cloud security now offers better protection against data breaches than traditional on-premises solutions or third-party data centers. In fact, the public cloud is rapidly becoming the safest environment to store and share data. Respected vendors like Salesforce and Workday provide high standards of security by default, which can be augmented even further with an impregnable barrier of additional security layers and tools.

Naturally, this is not a one-size-fits-all situation. If you want to end up with the most effective cloud security, you need to ask the right questions. What type of data are you moving? Does the transition involve customer-related information, or are you focused on protecting trade secrets? What are your privacy requirements?

Answering these questions will allow you to pinpoint risks and manage them proactively, which is an essential first step on the road to data protection.

Help Your Cloud Provider Understand Your Business

Any successful cloud transition must always begin with a thorough inventory of your needs. After all, even the world’s finest gloves will do precious little good if you wear them on your feet. It’s vital that your cloud provider understands your business. Be proactive and thorough, and clearly indicate your needs. Consider the following questions:

  1. Which rules and regulations regarding data privacy apply to your information? Personal data and medical records are often subject to local laws. Prepare these requirements in advance.
  2. Does your data security need to adhere to specific international standards? If so, you should make your cloud provider aware of the required security certificates.
  3. Do you operate in a heavily regulated industry, like healthcare or financial services? If so, the location in which your data is stored is an important consideration. Each nation has different rules and your provider must know which legislative climate best suits your needs.
  4. How do you need to handle employee data? Platforms like Workday have an impact on your data requirements, which has implications for where your data is stored.
  5. What are your internal data security requirements? If you need a specific encryption solution or cryptographic gateway, letting your cloud provider know in advance will enable them to accommodate your needs.

Answering these questions will not only ensure that your cloud solution meets your specifications. It will also ensure that the transition goes smoothly, both internally and externally.

Address the Most Important Risks to Cloud Security

One of the biggest hurdles for companies moving to the cloud is the unnatural feeling of losing control. As soon as precious data moves off-premises, an instinctive sense of dread takes hold.

As far as data security is concerned, however, controlling access is vastly more important than controlling location. Improper access protocols are the single biggest risk to security – both in the cloud and elsewhere. You should carefully examine how your data is accessed and by whom, and focus specifically on weak spots and vulnerabilities in these areas. Most data breaches occur around these spots, regardless of where the data is stored.

Additionally, vulnerability testing is of paramount importance. An untested system is an unsecured system, whether it's on-premises or in the cloud. Mitigating data security risks in the cloud requires strenuous testing regimens, strong technology and proper planning.

Another important consideration would be the human factor. Your employees can be some of the most dangerous pieces on the board. It’s all well and good that they can easily sign up for public cloud service like Dropbox, but who within your company manages the security for those services?

That’s right: no one. This is a substantial risk, and surprisingly common. One global organization Accenture worked with assumed they had around 80 cloud services in their system. When we ran a check, we discovered they had 8,000. These unpleasant surprises can only be avoided with proper planning, awareness and governance.

Escape from the Shadow of Cloud Security Doubt

Data security is important and it should certainly be on your agenda. However, many organizations allow themselves to get bogged down in security concerns for months or even years. This is not only costly, it’s a waste of precious time and energy as well. In one case, Accenture worked with a financial services company that had been struggling with their security issues for months.

When they finally turned to Salesforce, they discovered it had the solution to their problems all along. It took only three months to get it up and running.

It is worth noting that this is the rule, rather than the exception. Security concerns should not stop you from moving forward, and they certainly shouldn’t stop you from moving to the cloud. In many cases, the cloud provides unique solutions to data security issues no other approach can, and there are many ways to tailor security measures to meet your standards. All it takes is an open attitude and a willingness to discuss your doubts and requirements.

Stay a Step Ahead of the Competition

At the moment, less than 10 percent of the world’s data is stored in the cloud. Many companies are taking an overly cautious approach, despite the impressive range of public cloud platforms currently available. Amazon Web Services, Salesforce and Google all provide excellent cloud solutions. It goes without saying that they take security extremely seriously, especially since their livelihoods and reputations depend on it. To give an example, Google has over 600 engineers working on security full-time. Most companies, if not all, would be hard-pressed to dedicate the same resources to on-premises legacy architecture and related security challenges.

These statistics reveal a huge opportunity for global businesses. While cloud adoption is still relatively low, it is growing rapidly. The benefits are clear and continue to mount. If you want to move ahead of your competitors who aren’t in the cloud, you would do well to capitalize on the security tools these cloud providers have to offer.

Monitor Security to Guard Against Cloud Data Breaches

Let’s imagine for a moment that you’ve finally moved your data to the cloud. Now, a new question presents itself: who will monitor your cloud security?

If you’re a company security officer, you will probably still want to know about every attack. After all, it’s important to keep a holistic view of your security environment, regardless of the fact that your data has been moved to the cloud.

In the past, cloud service providers often had difficulty providing these insights. Just a few years ago, security reports were unheard of. But cloud providers have matured rapidly in this regard. They can now quickly deliver detailed security insights and analyses.

This is a valuable source of information, and you should take full advantage of the opportunity to monitor the state of cloud security and gain critical feedback. After all, these insights can also be relevant for security in other areas, outside of the cloud. There’s no reason you won’t be able to enjoy the same degree of overview and control you previously had on-premises.

Embrace the Cloud and Step Into the Future

There’s no need to be apprehensive about cloud security. Those days are behind us. Modern security solutions are perfectly capable of keeping up with the speed of the cloud. You can now bring the best security and cyber threat prevention solutions to the cloud and tailor them to your specific needs.

The advantages of this are staggering. Moving to cloud-based services will give you universal access to the same level of protection you once had at the office. In addition, you no longer have to choose between securing your infrastructure or improving your productivity and reducing TCO. The cloud provides both. Don’t let your fears hold you back. Let the cloud set you free and step into the future.

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