View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. Technology
  2. Cybersecurity
February 13, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:06am

How to protect your data in the cloud

CBR has teamed up with Lee Weiner, SVP of products and engineering at security management firm Rapid7, to bring you a series of useful guides that will help you stay safe online. This time, Lee offers advice on how to stay secure in the cloud.

By Duncan Macrae

In support of Safer Internet Day, this week we’ve been running a series of articles looking at equipping users with the means to better protect themselves – and you – in the connected world. We’ve already looked at phishing, passwords and mobile risks and next up are cloud applications.

According to the Ponemon Institute, 35% of security leaders say SaaS applications are not evaluated for security prior to deployment. And those are the security leaders who know it’s happening – chances are there are more that don’t.

A few years ago, Rapid7 ran its own internal audit to see where it stood with cloud applications. It found about ten times more than it was expecting had been deployed. The challenge is that it’s easy for individual departments to sign up for an app and start using it without needing IT support and that’s exactly what had been happening, potentially exposing us to unknown and unmanaged risk. Rapid7 now has policies to ensure the security team is included in any vendor selection, and that all vendors meet our security requirements. If you don’t have policies in place, Lee Weiner, SVP of products and engineering at Rapid7, strongly recommends you do your own internal audit and determine how you will manage the risk.

For users, the cloud can be liberating because it means they no longer need to wait for IT to install an app for them, so here are some pointers for helping them to understand the potential risks associated with this behaviour.

What is the Cloud?

"Cloud" basically means a techsolution you’re subscribing to online. That covers an incredibly diverse range of things. For example: online data storage like Dropbox, collaboration forums such as Trello and customer relationship management systems like Cloud applications are designed to be very quick to deploy and easy to manage and as a result, the chances are that your department is already using some kind of cloud service.

The challenge here is that you don’t know how good the security of the solution you’re buying may be. That can be a big problem if any corporate information is being handled by the service. For example, if you use an online data storage service like Dropbox, SugarSynch or GoogleDrive, and that service gets compromised by an attacker, that attacker could get access to any information you stored on the site. Other types of corporate data, such as any intellectual property, are also valuable and need to be protected to defend the way we do business.

Content from our partners
Scan and deliver
GenAI cybersecurity: "A super-human analyst, with a brain the size of a planet."
Cloud, AI, and cyber security – highlights from DTX Manchester

Check out the next page to find out how you can protect yourself!

How can you protect yourself?

No one expects you to be an expert on security, but vigilance is key; familiarise yourself with company policies, and if in doubt, reach out to the IT or security team. In the case of cloud applications, bear in mind that although they may seem very polished and professional, you have no way of knowing what level of risk they are actually exposing you and your company to. Here are some basic ways of minimising that risk:

Work with IT/Security

When you start to think about using a new service, bring the IT and security team into the process. IT works to identify potential options based on your needs and budget, and then we can vet the candidates for you. In addition, the IT team knows the questions to ask and what to look for to ensure you get all the benefits without a lot of extra risk.

Don’t store information online without permission

When you use a cloud solution you may find that you start putting data in there as a matter of course. This is how you get value out of the solution, but have you considered what kind of data you’re storing there? Or how the vendor is storing and protecting that data? We have a responsibility to keep that data safe, but a third party vendor may not feel they share that responsibility. Check with IT and they can tell you whether it’s safe to store information online.

Don’t use personal cloud storage for work

It’s very tempting; you use an online storage service for your media and documents at home. You already have an account set up, and you need to be able to access company information so you can work wherever you are. Using your personal account seems like an obvious solution, but it isn’t. Ask IT for a solution and they’ll suggest some company-approved approaches and get you up and running.

Don’t share permissions for company files

It’s a standard practice to restrict who can access certain types of information in the company based on role. This helps keep the information safe. In the same way, you should check with a manager or IT before sharing access to files that are stored in the cloud.

Don’t share passwords and other access credentials

It’s very common for teams to share credentials for cloud services. This is an inherently insecure behaviour and can encourage other equally insecure behaviour such as emailing credentials, writing them down, or using very weak, easy to guess passwords. All of these activities increase the risk associated with using cloud services and should be avoided. Familiarise yourself with basic password hygiene if you have not already done so.

If you are considering a cloud purchase, or are already using some cloud services we may not know about, please do contact the IT team. And stay vigilant!



Websites in our network
Select and enter your corporate email address Tech Monitor's research, insight and analysis examines the frontiers of digital transformation to help tech leaders navigate the future. Our Changelog newsletter delivers our best work to your inbox every week.
  • CIO
  • CTO
  • CISO
  • CSO
  • CFO
  • CDO
  • CEO
  • Architect Founder
  • MD
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.