The Five Types of Data Protection in the Cloud

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Benefits of Cloud Based

According to a report by the American research company Gartner, data leakage from public clouds will increase by up to 80% due to incorrect configurations and unoptimized business processes. Therefore, companies that use cloud services need to think about strengthening security now.

In this article, we take an in-depth look at five of the most common types of data protection in the cloud: encryption, infrastructure monitoring, data restriction, backups, and a disaster recovery plan.

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  1. Encryption

To ensure security, it is necessary to implement a certain encryption policy. But it makes no sense to encrypt absolutely all the data – in this case, the disadvantages associated with encryption processes will outweigh any possible advantages. As a result, you must first determine what data is in the cloud and where the traffic is going, and then choose which of these elements requires encryption. For encryption to be effective, the expense of implementing such protections must be weighed against the potential losses from data leakage. In addition, you should analyze how encryption will affect the performance of information systems.

Data protection can be done at different levels. For example, all data that users send to the cloud can be encrypted using blockchain encryption algorithms. The next level is data encryption in the cloud system, which has three methods:

The first is to encrypt data on your computer yourself and then send it to the cloud. This way you can make backups of any project. At the same time, it is worth uploading encrypted files or encrypted containers to an external hard drive, since there are examples when data from unreliable cloud storage was irretrievably deleted without the consent of the owner.

If you have a lot of files, you can use services that encrypt the data before sending it to the cloud. Some of them even allow you to encrypt file headers. Thus, if attackers get access to the cloud, they will not be able to access not only the content of the file but also its name.

One of these services is Boxcryptor. The main advantage of Boxcryptor is support for popular cloud storage such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, Amazon, iCloud Drive. The service is also compatible with all major operating systems, including iOS and Android. There is a free version of the service, however, it has some limitations. For example, you can only work with one cloud. The paid version allows you to encrypt file names and work with an unlimited number of cloud providers.

  1. Infrastructure monitoring

Attackers can almost always find a way to break into the system. Therefore, to prevent threats, it is necessary to make sure that attacks do not spread to other vulnerable systems. This is possible by blocking unauthorized connections between worker processes and preventing dangerous connection requests.

There are many infrastructure monitoring services on the market that allow you to get a complete picture of network activity: see everyone who connects to the network and set rules for users (what specific users can do as well as what access rights they should have).

Monitoring systems also allow obtaining statistics on each user and related activities and threats. Services such as Zscaler allow you to send logs to the customer’s SIEM systems to receive reports that include data from various sources. Zscaler provides users with a whole collection of pre-installed and customizable logs. The following types of reports are included:

  • Executive Reports;
  • Interactive Reports;
  • Scheduled Reports;
  • Company Risk Score Report;
  • Industry Peer Comparison;
  • System Audit Report;
  • Security Policy Audit Report.
  1. Data restriction

Many are already accustomed to the fact that each user logs in to the information system using his login and password. Typically, password data is stored as a hash in a private database. In order to avoid stealing the session of authorized users, login and password hash check is performed on each page of the system. If authentication fails, the user will be automatically logged out. But in addition to the traditional login and password protection system, cloud services offer several other methods to protect information.

Recently, the role-based security model (also called role-based access control) has become widespread. This model is based on identifying users with a login. When a user is identified, he is automatically allocated roles and decisions.

The role-based access control model follows the security policies of various organizations. It allows you to organize features such as a hierarchy of roles and operational separation of duties.

RBAC (Role Based Access Control) considers all information to be owned by this company. In such a system, users cannot transfer the rights to access information to other users. This system is based on making access decisions based on information about the function that the user performs within a given organization based on their role.

In a role-based access control system, the membership and distribution of authority of a role are determined by the security policies implemented in the system, not by the system administrator. A role can be understood as a set of actions that a user or group of users can use. The concept of the role includes a description of duties, responsibilities, and qualifications. The functions are allocated to roles by the system administrator. Role access is also determined by the system administrator.

The role-based policy allows you to distribute powers between roles in accordance with their job responsibilities. And the role of the administrator is supplemented by special powers, which allow the administrator to monitor the system and manage the configuration. The rights of ordinary users are limited to the minimum necessary to run specific programs.

The number of roles in the system may not correspond to the number of real users. One user, if he has different responsibilities that require different permissions, can perform several roles, and several users can use the same role if they do the same job. Cloud systems like Amazon EC2 make extensive use of RBAC to fine-tune end-user access to resources.

  1. Data backups

Apps that run in the cloud are only protected to a certain extent. From time to time there are stories about how one or another unreliable cloud provider erased virtual machines or files in storage. In order to fully protect the data that is generated by cloud applications, backups to the customer’s data center (Data Center) or to another cloud will be required.

In small-scale scenarios, users can copy files, for example, from Office 365 to a local volume or to an external drive. But it’s a manual process that can be unreliable and difficult to scale.

Such situations are extremely rare for huge files and larger programs. Enterprises that use the cloud as an IaaS model can use application system interfaces (APIs) provided by cloud providers to develop their own backup software. Or third-party backup software to local servers, network-attached storage (NAS), or your data center.

When compared to local backups, backing up to the cloud promises to provide various benefits. This includes lower infrastructure costs, faster backups and restores, and greater flexibility.

As part of the cloud backup service, users are able to back up important data (files, databases, operating system configurations) to the cloud. They accomplish this by deploying special agents in order to back up the data of the relevant applications. The presence of agents allows you to guarantee the integrity of the data in the backup, and the transfer of the backed-up data is carried out over the Internet via VPN channels.

  1. Disaster recovery plan

Disaster Recovery Plan allows you to protect your business from IT failures and possible data loss.

A traditional recovery plan involves the creation of a backup platform, preferably in another area or even a city. To organize it, you need to purchase the same set of equipment as on the main platform. Also, provide platform infrastructure and purchase backup software. At the same time, the costs of creating and maintaining a backup platform can be the same as the costs of the main platform. This means that business continuity can take up to 50% of the entire IT budget. While the cloud backup service provides the ability to quickly increase or decrease consumption and does not require an initial capital expense.