Cloud Data Security: The Best Way to Prepare for the Worst-Case Scenario

As business and technology professionals utilizing the cloud, we thankfully aren’t required to wrestle alligators, defuse bombs, or engage in otherwise death-defying feats of heroism. Aside from the occasional traffic jam, our job hazards are usually limited to awkward moments in the breakroom and misplacing our favorite pen.

However, there are several invisible perils in the cloud that can leave SaaS users wishing for an emergency manual on navigating data security issues. If you don’t want to drown in the proverbial quicksand of the cloud, you’ll need a solid action plan, like the one below, to help you prepare for and protect against cloud data security threats that can lead to data loss that could sink your entire business.

In our last post in this series, we examined all of the ways in which your cloud data may be vulnerable as well as two ways to address those vulnerabilities: trying to prevent data loss or planning for how to recover from it. We laid out why the latter is where IT teams should focus first.

Based on that assumption, what should your next steps be? Here’s your handbook for surviving the worst case-scenario when it comes to cloud data security.

Here’s a 5-step action plan to prepare for the worst-case scenario:

  1. Brainstorm your data loss threats. The Cloud Security Alliance’s Cloud Adoption Practices and Priorities (CAPP) report found that “IT professionals see the top security issues facing their organizations as malware (63 percent), advanced persistent threats (53 percent), compromised accounts (43 percent), and insider threats (42 percent).” What are your most likely threats? Make a list of the data loss threats that you may put you at risk – awareness is a good first step to preparation.
  2. Keep a separate copy of your data. You should maintain a separate copy that can be accessed outside of the main system, even if that system is in the cloud. That data should be backed up regularly, ideally, daily, so that you always have the latest versions along with historicals that you can access if you want to go back to any point in time. If you’re using the cloud, you should be backing up to a separate cloud, which enables you to take advantage of the cloud’s benefits without sacrificing security.
  3. Empower employees to restore their own data. In a time of crisis, you don’t want IT to be a bottleneck. Give everyone the instructions they need to restore their own lost data instead of having one person responsible for all of it. The sooner everyone gets their data back, the sooner work can resume.
  4. Test your plan. Know your restore time objectives and how long it could actually take you to restore a terabyte, a single account, a hundred accounts. During a crisis, people will be coming to your door wondering how long until things are back up and running. If you can give them a real ETA, they’re more likely to leave you alone and actually do the work of restoring data than if you reply with “I don’t know.”
  5. Communicate your plan. Employees who are properly trained and ready to act in the event of an incident stand a better chance of preventing such incidents in the first place and of being assets instead of albatrosses when the chips are down. Give everyone the tools that they need to respond as quickly as possible in crisis mode, and think about how you will communicate to your employees about how to get back up and running when certain systems may still be down.

Once you’ve made your data breach recovery plan, you can focus on trying to prevent threats. Having gone through the exercise, you’ll have a much better idea of what you’re trying to prevent and how, and at the end of it, you can move to the cloud with complete confidence, knowing that cloud data security is covered.

For additional resources on cloud data security, you can visit the Cloud Security Alliance’s website, read our Five Essential Restore Capabilities for Cloud Application Data, and be sure to check out our free eBook below.