Cloud computing is great for remote workers but poses a few security risks. Here’s how to mitigate them.

Key takeaways:

  • As more companies use cloud computing and a remote workforce, cybercrime is up an incredible 630%.
  • Only 43% of small and medium-sized businesses have a cybersecurity plan, even though 43% of data breaches happen to those businesses.
  • Ransomware is becoming more popular with cybercriminals, at an average cost of $1.85 million per attack, and even when the ransom is paid, most companies only recover 65% of their data.
  • Optimizing your cybersecurity is imperative, and you can do this by picking the right service provider, access control, and data encryption, among other methods. 
  • Creating a culture of awareness, regular training, and evolving your cybersecurity strategy is as important as introducing other controls. 

More businesses are moving their applications, documents, and databases from servers on their physical premises to servers on the cloud. This is because the cloud provides convenience, reliability, and the ability for businesses to expand without buying expensive equipment. The COVID-19 pandemic saw many companies accelerate their movement to the cloud to support remote workers.

Cloud adoption increased 50% between January 2020 and April 2020. While this made remote working more efficient and productive, it also increased security risks. The same period saw a 630% rise in cyberattacks. Many sources can attack the cloud and access is achieved in many ways, including via phishing emails, malware, and exploiting weak passwords. 

Despite these risks, cloud computing can offer much better security than your local servers and it mitigates the cost of cybercrimes. Ransomware attacks, which hold your data captive until you pay a cybercriminal to release it, happened to 32% of businesses in 2021 at an average recovery cost of $1.85 million. Even when the ransom is paid, most victims only recovered 65% of their data. 

Let’s explore what the cloud is, the threats it faces, and how you can best use it to protect your customer data.

What is the cloud and how does it support your remote employees?

The cloud. It sounds all fluffy and nebulous. In computing, the cloud is the internet, and more specifically, internet servers where you can store data and then access it remotely instead of having to keep it on your computer’s hard drive. When you request something from a server, software finds what you need and delivers it instantaneously. 

The cloud can host software applications that run on the internet instead of on your local computer, including Microsoft Office applications, and software such as Google Docs and Sheets. It provides document access from any device, such as desktop computers, mobile phones, and tablets. It makes document collaboration and file sharing easy, as more than one person can work on the same document at the same time, providing version control. The cloud also protects your files by backing up data that’s sitting on an in-office or remote computer, so that if that device is lost or stolen, your files and other information are resting in the cloud for easy recovery.

While the cloud provides many advantages to your business, like productivity, collaboration, and access, there are also perilous cybersecurity risks to be aware of. It is very important to develop a security plan for using the cloud. Your security plan should address data breaches, business continuity disruption, and if you are in a regulated industry, compliance violations. Here are nine best practices to follow to ensure cloud security.

Nine ways to optimize the security of your cloud

Cybercriminals are wily creatures. They are constantly coming up with ways to circumvent security or exploit any gaps, which means you have to stay on your toes. Your IT team will have to apply constant vigilance, your employees will have to act responsibly, and company leadership will have to foster the right culture around security. Keep reading to discover the nine best practices that will create a secure cloud environment.

1. Choose the right service provider

There are a lot of cloud service providers out there. Look for one that has the best built-in security that meets or exceeds industry standards. Big companies like Amazon and Google are often good choices since they have business models that can’t afford to be disrupted by data breaches, making them very secure. 

2. Know your security responsibilities

Your cloud service provider is not completely responsible for the security of your data. Your service provider partner likely has a shared responsibility model. This means that while the provider is responsible for the security of the cloud, which includes the networks, computing, and storage that support the cloud, your business is responsible for the security of your own data. It’s important to be clear on who is responsible for what. 

3. Monitor constantly

If you manage your own cloud IT services, it’s essential that your team perform regularly scheduled audits, vulnerability, and penetration tests. It’s critical to ensure that your current security is sufficient and that the security measures outlined in your agreement with your service provider are being met. Security monitoring is time-and-resource consuming, so you might want to look into hiring a managed service provider

4. Control access

Unauthorized access is a risk that can be controlled by the use of an access management solution that allows only those with the proper credential and authentication to access specific data. 

5. Create the right culture and make sure you’re covered

Staff should be trained regularly on cyberthreats to cloud computing. Your IT team should keep abreast of new threats and inform the entire organization, for both remote workers and on-premises employees. This is a great time to review your insurance policies as well and make sure you have the proper policies, including cyber liability insurance

6. Keep in-house and remote computers updated

Your security is only as strong as its weakest link. Your IT team should be ensuring that regular updates and upgrades are made for applications, firewalls, virus and intrusion detection, anti-malware software, access controls, and any other implemented measures. 

7. Encrypt your data 

Data should be encrypted while at rest – when it is just sitting there waiting for access – and when being transferred. Your cloud service providers should offer encryption, so check with them. 

8. Tweak your cybersecurity over time

As the cybercrime landscape evolves, so should your security. Review your policies regularly and update them as necessary to avert new threats. 

9. Update your strategy regularly

Your cybersecurity strategy should include policies for disaster recovery, how you will respond to a cyberattack, and how you will implement business continuity in the event of anything, ranging from a denial of services attack to a natural disaster.

In an era with climbing cybercrime statistics, cybersecurity cannot be ignored. Many smaller businesses have no cybersecurity plan at all – even though the percentage of small and medium-sized businesses that are victims of data breaches is 43%. Cyber liability insurance is a must to protect your business and your customers, and if you have an e-commerce site, be sure you’re covered there as well. 

Cyber liability insurance is an essential part of your cybersecurity strategy

Cybersecurity breaches are expensive and can be ruinous to your business. You don’t want to shutter your company due to lost customers, reputational damage, and the cost of recovery, if recovery is possible at all.  

Defend your company with cyber liability insurance. At Avante Insurance, we are committed to making sure your business is adequately protected today, and for whatever tomorrow’s hackers will bring. Reach out today – we’re always standing by. 

This blog and website are made available by the publisher for educational and informational purposes only. It is not to be used as a substitute for competent insurance, legal, or tax advice from a licensed professional in your state.