When your data is being stored in the cloud, how can you make sure it remains safe and secure? The answer is simple: by using advanced encryption protocols that add an extra layer of protection.
From a purely security-focused standpoint, where’s the best place to store your data? It’s clear, isn’t it? With you! When you have your data right there with you, you have complete peace of mind that it’s safe and secure. You’re in control of how it’s being stored, and who has access to it. It’s simple.
But as we all know, storing data on-site just isn’t practical – for a number of reasons. Firstly, we can’t be with our data all the time, so there are certainly security vulnerabilities. Secondly, with the amount of data that businesses are now generating, storing and utilising, the number of on-premises servers – and resources needed to manage those servers – would be huge.
The cloud just makes sense. But it can cause a bit of worry. When your data is out there in the virtual space, it’s natural to be concerned about security. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to make the cloud more secure. In part 1 of this Securing Your Cloud series, we explored multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorised access to data. Today, we want to go even further, looking at how we can add an extra layer of protection so that, if data is accessed, it’s useless to criminals.
So how can we do that? By using encryption.
What is cloud encryption?
Cloud encryption is a process which takes your data and transforms it into, well, gibberish! Encryption protocols change original, plain text into an unreadable format before it leaves your device, so that while it’s in transit to the cloud – and during storage in the cloud – it remains unreadable.
Encrypted data stays in this format until you need it again, either accessing the data yourself, or sending it to a trusted colleague or third party. You’ll be able to see the data in its readable format because you’ll have the decryption key which restores the original text. A decryption key could be anything from a straightforward password to a complex combination of sequences. Keeping this key safe should be a priority for businesses, ensuring it’s only available to approved, trusted users.
Why is encryption needed?
Cloud encryption is needed for two important reasons. Firstly, to reduce the risk of data being intercepted during transit. And secondly, to protect data while it’s being stored in the cloud.
1. Data in transit
Any time you send data to the cloud, retrieve it from the cloud, or move it between different cloud-based applications, it’s at risk. Cybercriminals may ‘sit’ between destinations, gaining access to data while it’s on its journey. With encryption, even if a criminal manages to intercept the data, there’s really nothing they can do with it. It won’t make any sense without the decryption key.
2. Data at rest
Even when your data is simply sitting still within the cloud, and not being moved or accessed, there’s still a risk that it can be compromised. If cybercriminals are able to gain access, data in the cloud could be stolen, lost, shared without permission, or even sold. Once again, if that data is encrypted, it’s virtually useless. There’s nothing a criminal can do with it if it’s unreadable.
Do your homework
When signing up for cloud-based services, it’s natural to assume that encryption comes as part of the package. And in many cases, it does. But don’t assume that this is always the case. Do your homework, and check that encryption is used. Ideally, look for industry-standard protocols, such as Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) for the very best protection.