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Five security must-do’s for first time cloud users

Jeff Castillo, Country Manager, Fortinet Philippines | Jan. 25, 2016
First time cloud users can be most at risk, simply because of unfamiliarity with the new environment and the added burden of having to grapple with a new way of managing users, data and security. Here are five security must-do's before taking the plunge.

Account hijacking may sound basic but this age old breach has been flagged by Cloud Security Alliance as a continuing top threat for cloud users. To fortify your login process, consider implementing two-factor authentication, posture checking and the use of one-time passwords. A good tip is requiring user IDs to be changed at initial logins.

3. Embrace encryption

Data encryption is one of your biggest security ally in the cloud, and it should be non-negotiable when it comes to file transfers and emails. While it may not prevent hacking attempts or data theft, it can protect your business and save an organization from incurring hefty regulatory fines when the dreaded event happens.

Ask your cloud vendor about their data encryption schemes. Find out how it encrypts data that is at rest, in use, and on the move. To understand what data should be encrypted, it helps to get a handle of where they reside - whether in your cloud vendor's servers, the servers of third-party companies, employee laptops, office PCs or USB drives.

4. Wrestling with the virtual

Moving into the cloud lets businesses reap the benefits of virtualization, but a virtualized environment can present challenges to data protection. The main issue has to do with managing the security and traffic in the realm of multi-tenancy and virtual machines.

Physical security appliances are typically not designed to handle the data that is in the cloud. This is where virtual security appliances come in - to secure traffic as it flows from virtual machine to virtual machine. Such appliances are built to handle the complexities of running multiple instances of applications, or multi-tenancy.

They therefore let businesses exert fine security control over their data in the cloud. Ask your cloud provider how it safeguards its virtual environment and find out what virtual security appliances it is using. If you are building your own private or hybrid cloud, consider getting virtual security products that focus on granular control.

5. Don't be in the dark about shadow IT

There is no shortage of anecdotes and reports out there that point to how the unauthorised use of applications and cloud services, or shadow IT, is on the rise among businesses. The uncontrolled nature of this poses a security threat and governance challenge.

Your new cloud application will be at risk because of this. Consider the simple scenario in which your employees use their smartphones to open a file on their device. It is likely that the phone will make a copy of the file, which could then be sent to an unapproved online storage destination when the phone does its routine automatic backup. Your secure corporate data has just been moved to an insecure location.


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