The security of company data in the cloud is not something to be taken lightly. And though all the benefits of the cloud, such as cost saving, scalability and flexibility, underpin modern Business Intelligence, strong data security is the underlying bedrock.
Per TechTarget, businesses need to be aware that most traditional security controls don’t usually cover your cloud security needs in full. Plus, “[t]he increased expansiveness of the cloud also increases an organization’s potential attack surface.”
With this in mind, it’s critical that organizations invest in understanding the specific risks associated with cloud data storage, and the approaches that can mitigate them. By fully understanding these challenges and opportunities, businesses can more confidently reap the expansive benefits of cloud BI.
The common challenges with cloud data security
There are a few common challenges businesses should consider when contemplating their cloud data security.
Image courtesy of TechTarget
1. The risk of data breaches
The responsibility for data breaches lies with both Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and the customer. Data breaches can cause significant loss in terms of reputation as well as financial loss, and are the most disruptive and high-risk security risk when it comes to cloud data storage.
What’s more, organizations should remember that breaches can be intentional, or caused by negligence, such as not following company procedures for sharing data externally.
In order to minimize the risk of such breaches, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), the world’s leading organization for defining best practices on cloud security, recommends that companies:
- define which data is valuable
- define what impact would be caused by lost or stolen data
- create a strong, tested incident response plan
2. Asset misconfigurations
Misconfiguration of an asset, such as a firewall application, can open companies up to attack.
One factor that often ties into misconfigurations is ineffective change control. Per TechTarget, “[i]n on-demand, real-time cloud environments, change control should be automated to support rapid change,”. TechTarget also recommends that data teams pay particular attention to data that’s accessible via the internet to prevent this kind of occurrence.
3. Lack of cloud security architecture and strategy
Before businesses shift their data to the cloud, they need to have a proper cloud strategy in place and the right architecture, like Snowflake. Also, it’s vital for data leaders to understand the full process of migrating to the cloud and who’s responsible for what when it comes to data security.
On this point, the CSA suggests that leaders align their security structure with business goals and objectives. Along with developing and implementing a robust security architecture framework, together with security monitoring procedures.
4. Insufficient identity, credential, access, and key management
Access management and identity issues are high on this list for a reason: They’re responsible for a major part of cloud security threats. A lack of proper authentication, weak credential protection, and weak passwords are cited as key causes of these incidents, the CSA affirms. And the resolution isn’t unattainable – organizations can implement two-factor authentication with relative ease to improve access and credentials control.
5. Cloud account hijacking
The definition of cloud account hacking, per ResearchGate, is “when a criminal obtains your personal data information and uses it to take over your accounts (bank account, e-mail account or social media account).” Hijackers can use several tactics to obtain your personal data in the cloud, such as email phishing, or malicious software, for instance.
Our cloud experts, the CSA, also remind us that a simple password reset is not enough to remedy this issue. They suggest businesses create a business continuity plan as a way to reduce the impact of such an occurrence.
6. Insider threats to your business data
Employees can, unfortunately, pose a risk to your organization’s data security, both within the cloud and outside of the cloud environment. Current and previous employees could cause system downtime, data loss, or even steal or leak data.
In this instance, the CSA recommends companies do regular security awareness training to reduce easily preventable security risks, such as password sharing. They also suggest enterprises control or restrict access to critical systems with strict user access controls. And reiterate the importance of locating and fixing any misconfigured cloud servers, as these errors can often be difficult for businesses to detect.
7. Insecure interfaces and APIs
Here we’re dealing with some of the most exposed elements in a cloud environment, your CSP User Interface (UI) and Application Protocol Interface (API). An organization’s level of cloud security hinges on these two components, which should work to streamline your cloud computing. When left unsecured, they can open up opportunities for cybercriminals.
One recommended solution is to rely on standard API frameworks because they’re created in a way that considers security threats. An organization should also practice good API hygiene (or how you manage your APIs), which ensures that issues are tackled as they arise.
8. Weak control planes
A cloud control plane is the central ‘hub’ for managing an organization’s cloud environment, much like air traffic control. And as businesses shift more and more of their data to the cloud, this becomes a crucial point to keep secure. If the cloud plane is not secure, it can be vulnerable to attacks such as those on administrative privileges.
Best practices to keep this collection of interfaces safe and secure include multi-factor authentication and establishing policies that prioritize the safety of company data.
How to operate securely in the cloud
Though businesses have a choice when it comes to cloud infrastructure, the right solution should prioritize cloud data security. Businesses that have adopted the Snowflake Data Cloud as their cloud infrastructure gain the benefit of Snowflake’s built-in security features such as:
- Data discovery: Data governance tools like Snowflake’s Object Tagging or Access History give users the visibility they need into business data, where to find it, and who accessed it
- Data masking: This is essential when you’re dealing with sensitive information. With this feature, you can share data, such as customer financial data, but the data is masked, so privacy is retained
- Governance: Good data governance practices and policies will guide how a company makes data available, how it’s used, how it’s secured, and the quality of the data
- Data encryption: This is where an algorithm changes text characters into a jumbled, unreadable format. The only way to decrypt or read the data is with a specific decryption key
- Data security audits: These are audits performed every few months to make sure any vulnerabilities are spotted and handled
Business intelligence solutions that operate on the Snowflake Data Cloud start off on a good note security-wise, with many offering additional features that further secure an enterprise’s data.
Astrato is a cloud-native data visualization and analytics platform built for the Snowflake Data Cloud. With Astrato, you can set up Enterprise Authentication quickly and easily. Users can use their corporate identity provider to manage user provisioning, passwords and access to Astrato.
By enabling Enterprise Authentication within Astrato, you no longer have to invite users. As long as a user is a member of your identity provider, they’re automatically granted access to Astrato. So they don’t have to remember an additional username and password. They can just re-use their corporate identity. A big time saver for the user and IT!
You can manage the security of your data in the cloud with the right solutions that keep ahead of the changing threat landscape. And practice good data hygiene as a business. Enjoy the power of the cloud!