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Despite the misconception that cloud infrastructure is inherently safer than on-premise, 27% of respondents in Check Point’s 2022 Cloud Security Report encountered a data breach at least once. The scalability that cloud computing brings often leads to a much more complex IT infrastructure that requires sophisticated and powerful tools. On top of that, the amount of data being generated also grows each year which leads to an increase in big data services. Meanwhile, hacking techniques are becoming harder to detect and prevent. This results in devastating consequences for business owners, employees, and customers. In this article, we will tackle the topic of data security in cloud computing and explore its challenges and best practices. 

What is Cloud Data Security?

Before exploring data security, let’s focus on cloud computing and what it entails. Cloud computing is a process of storing and accessing data, software, and various resources beyond local networks. Utilizing cloud migration and integration services allows organizations to scale and automate their operations as well as save money on data storage. This technology gives businesses the freedom to focus on their primary goals while delegating their infrastructure management to a cloud provider. What are the main reasons companies move their data to the cloud?

  • Cost reduction: Companies save up to 20% annually after moving their data storage to the cloud. 
  • Resource optimization: Not only does cloud computing save infrastructure costs, it also frees up the employees’ burden on management and maintenance. 
  • Limitless access: Without being tethered to a physical infrastructure, employees can access data from any location in the world as long as they have a decent internet connection. 
  • Scalability: Cloud providers allow for instant scalability that meets the current demands of the business. 
  • Cloud-based analytics: Cloud services allow businesses to clean, store, and analyze vast amounts of data that can be used to make better decisions. 

Cloud data security refers to a set of solutions, best practices, and procedures aimed at protecting cloud-based data. The core principles of data security for cloud computing include data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. While data confidentiality is a principle that encourages data protection from unauthorized access, data integrity strives to guard data from unauthorized changes. Finally, data availability ensures that the company’s data is available and accessible to everyone who has permission. 

Is the Cloud Safe?

Technically, yes, the cloud is as secure as you want it to be. The cloud is considered safer than traditional on-premise infrastructure. However, cloud migration does require a major shift in the organization. Your existing security strategy and solution may not be as effective once you move to the cloud. Therefore, you must undergo a fundamental restructuring and update your tools to meet the new security standards. 

Another common challenge is shared responsibility. Many businesses move to the cloud under the misconception that their provider will carry all the responsibilities associated with data safety. In reality, cloud data security is a burden that is shared between the cloud provider and the customer. 

The Importance of Data Protection in Cloud Computing

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the annual cost of cybercrime will rise to $8 trillion in 2023 and $10.5 trillion by 2025. While technology is evolving and growing to protect us online, it also weaponized hackers with more sophisticated ways to gain access to our information. Especially if your business lacks cloud computing data security measures and tools, you will be a primary target. For this reason, it’s imperative to understand how the cloud operates and how to safeguard your sensitive data. 

Another vital step in securing your data storage is choosing the right IT partner. Since data security is a shared responsibility, you want to make sure you are collaborating with a trustworthy vendor. Take your time to conduct research and select a partner who has an extensive portfolio of success stories. NIX has extensive experience and expertise in data security in the cloud to fortify your data assets against threats.

Primary Challenges of Cloud Data Security

Before diving into preventative measures, let’s inspect the biggest challenges that you will face when migrating to the cloud. 

Cloud data security

Legacy Software

Traditional security protocols are not compatible with the cloud, which requires an organization-wide restructuring of the entire cybersecurity system. For example, in cloud data security, companies are advised to implement a zero-trust policy. This means that every node is potentially compromised and requires authentication with no exceptions. Even if the user’s location is trustworthy, access cannot be automatically granted since cloud resources are publicly available. 

Larger Target

The innate scalability of the cloud makes it easier to add and remove new applications. This creates a broader surface of attack and makes your data potentially more vulnerable. On top of that, if you are not operating in cloud-native architecture, your IT team may not even be aware of a new asset and lack real-time detection features. The more complex your IT infrastructure becomes, the more you need to invest in data storage security in cloud computing. 

Data Breaches

Although not unique to cloud computing, the cybersecurity threat persists. With cybercrime on the rise, security teams are overwhelmed with newer and more complex attacks. Moreover, 74% of attacks are caused by human error or misuse which requires personnel training and education. Cybersecurity engineers are tasked with employing encryption and developing an incident response plan in order to minimize the aftermath of an attack. 

Access Control

One of the major cloud data security challenges is establishing and maintaining rigid access management. Many businesses still struggle with the concept of the least privilege, with 90% of granted permissions not being used. This statistic derives from the increasing complexity of cloud services and poor cybersecurity culture. Especially when a business grows, managing thousands of permissions becomes quite challenging. The line between precise and flexible gets blurry and hard to identify, which leads to idle accounts and potential vulnerabilities. 

Poor API Management

APIs can be exploited when an organization misconfigures an API, leading to vulnerability that hackers can utilize. Additionally, the API documentation can be accessed by both customers and cybercriminals who can identify potential weaknesses. API management is an integral part of cloud computing data security and should be a continuous effort. 

Insider Threats

One of the biggest challenges for businesses worldwide, insider threats can be both malicious and benign but will lead to devastating consequences. Non-malicious threats occur from ignorance or lack of understanding of how social engineering, phishing emails, and other forms of attacks take place. Insider threats with ill intent can come from current or former employees, partners, suppliers, and contractors who want to harm your brand and reputation in one way or another. This can also be combated with strict access control and regular personnel training. 

Regulatory Compliance 

Especially in healthcare and finance, you must adhere to a plethora of rules and regulations to ensure the safety of your and your clients’ data. Some of the biggest cloud data security challenges are the ever-changing data protection laws. As technology evolves, new issues occur that need to be investigated and managed with new amendments to the law. Among the most common regulations are HIPAA in the healthcare industry, PCI for the financial and banking sector, and GDPR for companies based in the EU. It’s recommended to research your location’s and industry laws to ensure compliance. The costs of non-compliance are not only monetary but also reputational, which are extremely hard to come back from. 

Cloud Data Security Best Practices

In this section, we will describe several vital best practices that will help you safeguard your data storage and minimize security threats. 

Cloud data security

Shared Responsibility Model

We have already mentioned the principle of shared responsibility in this article. The adoption of this approach requires defining which security operations are managed by which party. It’s the cybersecurity officer’s job to clearly describe which responsibilities are carried by the provider or by your company. The goal of this step is to cover every nook and cranny without leaving any gaps in data security in the cloud. 

Typically, customers are in charge of Identity and Access Management (IAM), network security, configurations, endpoint security, API management, code, and security of containers and workloads. Cloud providers take the wheel when it comes to direct control, meaning the physical and virtualization layers, network control, provider services, and cloud facilities. 

Tips for Adopting the Shared Responsibility Model 

  • Pay close attention to the service-level agreement (SLA) since security responsibilities may vary from one provider to another.
  • Embrace the Development Security and Operations (DevSecOps) approach, which consistently integrates security throughout the entire development lifecycle. 
  • Choose a reliable partner with a portfolio of successful collaborations and a strong focus on security. 

Identity and Access Management

IAM is an integral part of a sophisticated strategy for data security in the cloud. A set of technologies and principles that safeguard your data, IAM is enforced through authentication, authorization, and verification. For example, companies employ authentication systems that manage permission rights by verifying the person’s privileges. 

Best Practices for IAM

  • Adopt the zero trust model which relies on the following pillars: never trust, always verify, and assume breach. By applying the principles of the least privilege and always remaining hypervigilant to potential attacks, you can protect your data from external and internal actors. 
  • Enforce strong passwords across the organization to avoid brute-force attacks. Passwords must be complex, unique, and regularly updated. 
  • Apply multi-factor authentication (MFA) to further safeguard your information. The additional layers of protection include biometric authentication, one-time passwords and tokens, security questions, and others. 
  • Establish employee just-in-time access for temporary tasks that require additional privileges. This way, you can maintain IAM best practices while still allowing your employees to perform their duties. 
  • Audit your IAM policies to eliminate permissions that are not in use and make sure every employee has access to the files they need to do their job. 

Data Encryption

Another important tip on the list of cloud data security best practices is encrypting your data before sending it across the web. Data encryption is the process of translating datasets into another form of code in order to conceal them from malicious actors. Your data should be encrypted both in the cloud and during any type of data transfer. 

How to Encrypt Data in the Cloud

  • Identify the data that will be sent and which security requirements are needed for the transfer. This will help you determine which data should be encrypted and at which stage: at rest, in transit, or in use. 
  • Investigate how your cloud provider encrypts data to make sure their standards match yours. 
  • Invest in encryption key management software to ensure the utmost safety of your keys and backups. 

Employee Training

As a big portion of security breaches comes from human error and ignorance, training your employees will give you a considerable advantage. It’s vital to organize regular training sessions to gradually educate them about proper cybersecurity hygiene, common types of attacks, shadow IT risks, and other topics relevant to data security in cloud computing. Although investing in a high-level course may come at a cost, the benefits will definitely make up for it and more. 

Best practices for employee training 

  • Make the sessions enjoyable and interactive by splitting them into shorter lessons, removing technical jargon, including gamification, and more. 
  • Track employee progress to give them motivation to learn more as well as establish benchmark metrics to measure the success of the training. 
  • Tailor the sessions to educate about the security threats that are specific to your company, industry, and location. 
  • Update your training content with new information to include the latest hacking methods such as the use of deepfakes, artificial intelligence, and others. 

Incident Response Plan

No matter how much you attempt to prevent security threats, they are likely to occur. This is where one of the most essential cloud data security best practices comes into play: an incident response plan. This is a document that describes what should be done in case of an attack, including detailed instructions and responsibilities of each employee. It will help you minimize the impact and preserve as much sensitive data as possible. 

Tips to Develop an Incident Response Plan

  • Identify potential threats and write down scenarios that elaborate on the threat’s source and outcome. Using this list, work out which tools can be helpful in detecting and mitigating your security risks. 
  • Include which systems can be shut down during an attack to protect the most sensitive data and prevent the hacker from accessing more files. 
  • Once the attack is stopped, identify and remove malware, update the systems, and perform other activities to eradicate the threat and hinder re-entry. 
  • Now it’s time to assess the damage and restore the missing data from backups. 

How to Secure Your Cloud Data

There are different ways of protecting your cloud data, including various types of software and testing. In this part, we will dive into different types of security testing and explore various software solutions and services that will aid you in improving data protection. 

Cloud data security

Cloud Data Security Testing

Security testing refers to evaluating the compliance of the applications with the industry standards as well as identifying potential vulnerabilities. To ensure data storage security in cloud computing, IT staff performs three primary types of testing: Static Application Security Testing (SAST), Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST), and Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST). While AST detects bugs before the compile build, DAST looks for errors in relation to configuration, application input and output, and more. IAST is the combination of both and examines source code and runtime behavior. 

Cloud Computing Data Security Tools and Services

  • Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is a service that compiles multiple crucial security features, including zero trust network access, SD-WAN for a secure connection, and an advanced firewall. 
  • Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) enforces security policies whenever resources in the cloud are accessed. Among the biggest cloud market trends in 2022, CASB systems push policies that include authorization, encryption, tokenization, malware detection, and other best practices. 
  • Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) is a platform for identifying misconfigurations and risks of non-compliance. This service is especially useful for companies that are moving to the cloud and are in need of new security policies. 
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDPS) is a tool for monitoring, analyzing, and responding to network traffic. These systems can overlook internal configurations within your application and report on setting changes. 
  • IAM tools help organizations set and manage access control and enforce the least privilege principle. 
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools comprise breach alerts, data encryption, and other preventative measures to minimize the impacts of a security threat and protect your data. 
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) is one of the best technologies for data security in cloud computing. It offers a fully-fledged solution to automating threat monitoring, detection, and response. 


Unfortunately, the advancement of technologies only makes cybercrime more sophisticated and harder to detect. Modern organizations must have robust cloud computing data security in order to minimize their occurrence and impact. Partnering with a reliable cloud provider is an essential part of a successful cybersecurity strategy. At NIX, we are determined to provide industry-leading services for cloud migration and IT infrastructure development. Get in touch with our experts to discuss your needs and make your organization more secure and resilient.

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