Cloud Data Protection: 5 Best Practices in 2024

The fact that the data is mostly on the cloud in 2024 means that it’s more convenient and accessible, but it also means that it’s under more threat than ever before. After all, in order to steal your data, a malicious third party doesn’t have to steal your device, sneak into your home, or even install malicious software on your computer. They can do this in a simpler and safer (for them) manner. 

This is why you need to take your cloud data protection seriously and keep it all as safe as possible. Here are the top five practices you should use in 2024.

Cloud Data Protection: 5 Best Practices in 2024


  1. Data collection minimization

One of the most important protection steps is that you should never take data that you don’t need. Getting excess data is a strategy that can only misfire. First of all, it’s probably violating the data privacy policy, where you ask for consent and only take the data you absolutely need in order to provide your customers with a customized experience.

Second, you need to keep in mind that asking for too much data may not be in agreement with current compliances and regulations. For instance, businesses are not allowed to take certain types of information, like people’s names, addresses, phone numbers, and SSNs, without explicit consent. 

There are also some types of sensitive personal information that are really not that relevant to businesses. For instance, while you can benefit from knowing a person’s age and location, their genetic data, biometric data, and sexual orientation should be of no concern to you.

By keeping your data collection minimal and only taking what you absolutely need, you’ll actually reduce the consequences of a data leak. If you are using the latest encryption techniques and tokenizing this data, the risk is even lower.

This way, you’re actually protecting the data from abuse both from a hacker who would look to steal it and people from within your own organization. Not every employee is as trustworthy and you should never assume that customer data is safe if there’s no external leak. 

Simply put, data collection minimization limits the consequences of the worst-case scenario. Sure, you’re losing a lot but you’re never losing as much as you could have if you didn’t minimize your data collection. 

On top of that, you’re also looking less invasive to your customers. 

  1. Strong access control

In the previous section, we discussed how some threats to customer data originate from your own organization. This is why you need to pay special attention to who has access to this data.

One of the first things you have to do is segment your work and start using platforms that give your team members access on a need-to-know basis. This way, they only have partial information (only what’s relevant to their own field of work) and nothing more. This way, you’re limiting the potential insider leak while not restricting anyone from having access to info that’s necessary for work.

This is also something you have to think about before hiring. You need to put a lot of effort into the right vetting process. Dig a bit deeper, check their reputation, and inquire with previous employers and coworkers (this is easier than it sounds because the majority of migration happens within the same industry). Most importantly, if you have a bad feeling about someone, you’re not obliged to hire them. 

Next, you need to insist that they use a strong password. Make this a requirement for the platforms you use. It’s a simple step that will save you from a lot of headaches down the line. Most importantly, multiple-factor authentication should be insisted on. This way, even if their password is cracked, they can save the day. 

Your employees have access to this data by default, and if someone else gets their hands on this password for a cloud platform you’re using, everything is compromised. 

The last step is improving your employees’ education on the subject matter; however, this requires a separate section. Speaking of which…

  1. Employee training and awareness

Understanding different types of data is the first step in protecting it, so make sure to explain to your customers that not all data is confidential. Personal information is vital, and keeping it safe can stave away identity theft and synthetic identity theft; however, financial data is even more important. 

The first thing your employees need to learn is to recognize phishing scams. This happens when they open links without checking them first. Receiving unsolicited emails and DMs and clicking on links without hovering over them (to see the URL), checking the spelling, and more leaves you exposed to one of the most common and most dangerous cybersecurity scams. 

Next, you need to teach them more about safe password practices. Better yet, teach them about the subtle art of password management. They need to use password management tools, have all of their passwords unique, and change them on a regular basis. With the right tool, this isn’t even a challenge.

When sharing company data, they need to do it in the exact way that is prescribed by management. No, they can’t send a file in a personal email. When using cloud-based tools, they need to use the right project section and give access to a specific group of people. 

Instructing them on software and device security is also a huge priority. They need to understand what kind of antivirus and anti-malware systems they should keep on their devices. You also need to teach them which networks they are allowed to use and why is it dangerous to let anyone else use their devices. This is a huge issue that many remote employees working on a cloud are oblivious to.

  1. Data backup and recovery

When we talk about data protection, we’re not just talking about this data being leaked or stolen. Lost data can cause you so much inconvenience. We’re talking about the loss of a massive amount of work and sensitive customer data that you’re using to adjust and improve your strategy.

This is why you need a great incident response, usually in the form of a disaster recovery plan. 

So, what does this entail?

First of all, you need regular backup scheduling. You need to create automatic backups on a regular basis so that you only (potentially) lose the amount of work between two backups. This way, for instance, if you have backups on a daily basis, you can lose one day’s worth of data max. 

Second, the cloud is supposed to be secure from data loss by default, yet server crashes and data cache loss still happen. Well, your backup isn’t immune to that either. Multiple backup locations are, therefore, a much safer strategy.

Most importantly, you want to test backups regularly. This way, if there’s an issue, you can discover it in time before it becomes a serious problem. 

  1. Encryption

The first thing you have to keep in mind about encryption is that it’s a process that practically locks content (any content, regardless if it’s raw data or a formatted content structure) and restricts access to it to anyone who doesn’t have a specific “key.” This means that, even if someone were to get their hands on the data, it would be useless for them without the key in question.

Second, encrypted data cannot be tampered with. The decryption process will just fail or produce invalid results, effectively protecting data from being tampered with. Of course, today, with the use of the blockchain, this form of data protection is even easier to achieve. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have more than one reliable method in effect. 

The most important way in which encryption increases data protection is the fact that it keeps it safe both in transit and at rest. This means that the data is safe every step of the way, especially since, on cloud-based platforms, data will exist in both of these formats.

Second, it’s important that you understand that some regulations and compliances insist on the use of encryption. It’s in the regulatory framework that you have to honor in order to keep up with standards like GDPR.

Lastly, if you’re already using methods described further, encryption is just a cherry on top. 

Most modern tools and platforms are cloud-based, which is why cloud data protection is a priority of the highest order

Ultimately, you need to acknowledge the bad sides of the cloud, not just the good ones. Sure, they’re efficient, convenient, and efficient, but they’re also a huge liability. Sure, the employee can work from home, but they can also access confidential files from an unreliable device and network, and, in reality, as long as they use their password and device, you have no idea who is on the other side of the screen. This is why adopting the right practices makes so much difference. 

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