5 steps to preventing data loss in the cloud

Anyone operating in the enterprise today has come in contact with the cloud in some form. But, despite the ubiquitous nature of the technology, not all users are as well versed in cloud best practices as they need to be in order to prevent data loss. Security continues to lead the pack with it comes to CIOs’ concerns about cloud computing despite the fact that the technology has been around for nearly a decade already. The online threat landscape has grown more dangerous and many companies are at a loss as to how to improve security. For any enterprise looking for a way to use the cloud safely and prevent data loss, here are five basic tips:

1: Perform a cloud risk assessment
The main goal of this process is for companies to take an inventory of all the cloud applications in use and find where their data is actually being stored within the network. With that information in hand, IT decision-makers can develop an ‘as is’ cloud assessment and accurately understand what’s really going on. After inventory has been completed, the enterprise network should be surveyed to identify the company’s current cloud footprint and a data flow map should be created. Once applications are cataloged and all data is accounted for, each program should be given a risk score that takes into account the level of trust the organization has for the service and process.

2: Find any gaps between perceived security and actual security
This step helps businesses find any discrepancies between regulatory compliance needs – like PCI or HIPAA – and what is actually going on in the network. Discovering what areas have the biggest gaps can help decision-makers find the best way to address the issue and improve enterprise compliance.

There are a few simple steps every company can take to make their cloud safer.There are a few simple steps every company can take to make their cloud deployment safer.

3: Build a plan to combat shadow IT
One of the biggest cloud security issues facing companies today is shadow IT, or employees using unapproved programs for work purposes. To address this problem, organizations should take the data gathered during the first two steps and use it to create an action plan. Consulting with legal, security and procurement specialists can be beneficial during this process as well.

4: Choose a cloud framework to deploy
Once a comprehensive analysis of the enterprise’s needs has been done, it’s time to find a cloud platform that will successfully meet those demands. First, IT executives have to decide between a public, private or hybrid environment and then look for a service provider that offers the reliability, features and client service necessary to keep operations up and running smoothly.

” Look for a service provider that offers the necessary reliability, features and client service.”

5: Determine and implement cloud best practices
There are specific policies that each company will need to create on its own in order to accommodate and protect business functions, but there are other, more general recommendations that apply to anyone using the cloud. In order to get started when creating enterprise best practices, the Cloud Security Alliance offers a list of common policies  and the Cloud Best Practices Network provides case studies to help build better long term strategies.