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Cloud Data Protection Definition

Cloud data protection refers to the practice of ensuring organizations securely store, process, and manage data in a cloud or hybrid environment. To protect data in the cloud, it is necessary to coordinate data policies, methods of protection, and technical tools.

Why Do Enterprises Need Cloud Data Protection?

Companies regularly produce, gather, and store large volumes of sensitive data, including trade secrets and sensitive customer data. Organizations also transfer data to the cloud and store it in various locations, which adds another level of complexity. These locations range from straightforward public and private cloud repositories to complex architectures like hybrid clouds, multicloud, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions.

The result? The introduction of numerous security difficulties. These challenges are exacerbated by increasingly strict data privacy and protection laws and shared responsibility models adopted by cloud vendors like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Here are some of the most significant challenges:

  1. Visibility: Keeping an accurate inventory of all applications and data is difficult.
  2. Access: Compared to an on-premises infrastructure, there are fewer restrictions over data and applications housed on third-party infrastructure, making them more susceptible to breaches. Seeing what consumers or team members are doing and discovering how their data or devices are being used is not always feasible.
  3. Controls: Shared responsibility models are offered by cloud suppliers, so while cloud users have more control over some security features, others are still under the vendor's control. As a result, customers cannot guarantee data security.
  4. Inconsistencies: Different cloud vendors provide different data security features, which may result in inconsistent cloud data protection and security.

Threat actors may take advantage of any of these issues. This can result in the loss or theft of company secrets, financial or private information, and malware or ransomware infections. To prevent data breaches, a data loss prevention (DLP) strategy is necessary. 

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How To Prevent Data Breaches in the Cloud

Several methods for minimizing public cloud security risks are available. Some top options include backups, cloud storage, and disaster recovery, which all safeguard your cloud data from a malware or exfiltration attack, for example.

Standard security procedures, such as requiring multi-factor authentication (MFA) for employees accessing sensitive data, are also important for preventing data breaches. Because cloud workloads are particularly vulnerable to attacks, organizations and their cloud service providers must take extra care to reduce total data risk. This is because anyone with an internet connection can attempt to breach a cloud-based system.

Types of Cloud Data Protection

Here are five reliable security measures that offer cloud-based data protection:

1. Encryption

Before transferring data to cloud storage, it has to be transformed or encoded. Cloud security service providers typically provide customers with various encryption methods. A comprehensive cloud data protection platform should include strong access controls and key management features that let businesses use encryption practically and affordably.

2. Authentication and Identity Security

An identity check is necessary to ensure the person is who they claim to be and that the information they provide is accurate before you can trust them. Authentication is based on data that can only be produced by one, specific individual. This can include personal information, such as their full name, social security number, or license number. Physical identification techniques are also frequently used to authenticate someone’s identity, including fingerprint scanning or facial recognition.

3. Safe Deletion Techniques

Did you know that hackers can still find and use already deleted data? Your personal and professional information may be vulnerable if data on devices and in the cloud is not properly deleted.

Choosing how long old data should be preserved and when it should be removed is the first step in managing and truly eliminating “deleted” data. As such, your company should determine:

  • How long data should be stored for regulatory purposes
  • The length of time stakeholders should have immediate access to data. For example, someone from HR may upload employee contact information that is only available to an executive for a day

4. Managing Access Control

Access control is a technique for ensuring users have the right level of access to corporate data—and that they are who they say they are. It involves selectively limiting access to information through a combination of authentication and authorization. As outlined above, authentication ensures the person is who they say they are, while authorization centers around making sure they have the right to use certain areas of your cloud network.

An adequate access control system can:

  • Be seamlessly transferred into virtual environments like private clouds 
  • Work seamlessly with an organization's cloud assets and applications

5. Backing Up Data

Organizations must configure each system that uses cloud security services to perform automatic backups at least once a week. This is especially true for systems that store data used in day-to-day operations. The software, operating system, and data on each workstation should all be backed up. 

Another general rule is to perform periodic backups according to regulatory compliance standards. For example, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), hospitals must perform backups every day.

Security Techniques for Cloud Data Protection

Why is Cloud Data Protection the Future of Data Security?

Always have quick, dependable, and thorough data recovery and protection in place. Reliable backups are the first step in data recovery, whether it is a natural disaster, power outage, or an honest human mistake impacting your system. 

In a recent poll, 75% of IT leaders recognized data security and cloud backups as the most important business objectives. Also, by 2020, archived personal data will represent the biggest privacy risk for 70% of enterprises, according to Gartner. The same Gartner report also found that organizations with weak privacy protection by 2021 may incur compliance expenses that are twice as high.

Best Practices and Challenges

Here are the best practices and challenges to keep in mind when securing your cloud data:

Understand Your Cloud Responsibilities

The cloud service provider is not in charge of your data even though you use their service. Your provider and your company both have specific obligations. This is referred to as shared responsibility: Cloud security providers must guarantee the security of the services they offer, while cloud users are responsible for protecting their data.

Inquire About the Provider's Procedures in the Event of a Breach

If breaches occur, cloud security vendors should have clear, well-documented data breach prevention strategies that detail responsibilities around support and mitigation. Understanding what your provider does—and does not do—is a good first step in designing your strategy. In this way, you avoid wasting time doing what your provider already plans to do and make sure you fill any gaps their mitigation process may not address.

Pinpoint Security Gaps Between Systems

Cloud environments usually connect with various other services, and complexity increases when you add more vendors and systems to your stack. Your organization must ensure the security of the information and resources shared by such systems. 

This involves identifying each cloud security gap and taking the necessary precautions. However, some precautions may include setting up identity and access controls in certain areas of your network or your cloud provider installing a software firewall between users and sensitive data. Identify the areas that need special protections and make sure they get the necessary safeguards.

Manage Cloud Risks Through Actionable Insights

As cloud adoption accelerates, so do the risks. FortiCNP’s RRI analyzes security findings and alerts from multiple security services to prioritize cloud workloads with actionable insights for the highest risk resources. This helps security teams focus on what matters most.

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How Fortinet Can Help

FortiCNP is a cloud-native protection platform natively integrated with Cloud Service Providers’ (CSP) security services and Fortinet’s Security Fabric to deliver a comprehensive, full-stack cloud security solution for securing cloud workloads. FortiCNP’s patented Risk Resource Insights (RRI)TM technology simplifies security by contextualizing security findings and prioritizing the most critical resources with actionable insights to help security teams effectively manage cloud risk.


How to protect data in the cloud?

Some top options for preventing data breaches include backups, cloud storage, and disaster recovery, which all safeguard your cloud data. These techniques secure data in the event of a malware attack or any situation where a threat actor takes advantage of cloud data. You can also use cloud-based firewalls, which can detect and stop malware that attackers use to exfiltrate data.

What are the types of cloud data protection?

Data protection in the cloud comes in several different forms, including:

1.         Encryption

2.         Authentication and identity security

3.         Safe deletion techniques

4.         Managing access control

Why is cloud data protection important?

Companies regularly produce, gather, and store large volumes of sensitive data, including trade secrets and sensitive customer data. These need to be protected so organizations can earn and retain the trust of customers and stakeholders.