The shift to cloud computing in recent years has heralded significant changes to the ways that many businesses operate. That’s true not only for large enterprises but also for Small and Midsize Businesses (SMBs). Today, the technology stack of practically every SMB looks dramatically different from how it looked ten years ago.
The adoption of cloud-hosted software has been a huge positive for many businesses, enabling teams to work seamlessly together regardless of where individual team members are based. In a time where remote work has gained widespread acceptance, this has been particularly important. Everyday workplace software applications like Microsoft 365 are now primarily hosted in the cloud and new cloud-based applications continue to emerge at a fast pace.
This evolution has forced security teams to rethink the strategies they employ to protect their organization’s networks and systems. In an environment where all your valuable information––from customer payment details to proprietary trade secrets––lives online, it’s crucial to embrace cloud security management best practices.
In this guide, we’ll share eight best practices that security teams at SMBs should bear in mind as they re-engineer their network security practices to effectively defend their cloud infrastructure. These best practices for cloud security management include:
- Educating employees on security obligations
- Secure password management
- Access management
- Conducting regular penetration testing
- Updating cybersecurity policies
- Adopting continuous monitoring software
- Embracing cyber threat intelligence
- Working with a managed cybersecurity service
Let’s explore each of these best practices in more detail. We’ll cover the steps that SMB owners and security leaders should take to ensure their business’s cloud infrastructure is as secure as possible.
1. Educating Employees on Security Obligations
Your employees are your first line of defense against any cyberattack. But if they don’t know how to respond to a potential threat such as a suspicious email or a strange file attachment, your employees actually represent your greatest vulnerability.
Investing in security awareness training for your employees is one of the most impactful ways to improve the security of your cloud environment. Many training programs are available virtually, allowing employees to complete short, engaging modules on their own schedules. These sessions will cover topics including phishing, malware, and social engineering, and often feature quizzes and tests that enable leaders to test their employees’ knowledge.
Providing this education to your employees helps prevent potential cloud security breaches from happening in the first place, significantly boosting your organization’s overall cloud security management.
At Tech Heads, we’ve partnered with Arctic Wolf to create THInc. BootcampTM, is a fully managed cybersecurity training program that pairs on-demand microcontent with rigorous testing to turn your people into a human firewall. Download the info sheet now.
2. Secure Password Management
Employees access various elements of your cloud environment using passwords. In many instances, these passwords are all that stand between your organization’s confidential data and attackers. Despite this, many employees don’t take adequate steps to protect their passwords.
Stolen credentials are one of the most common causes of security breaches, yet over 40% of professionals still resort to sticky notes to keep track of their passwords. That’s a major security risk. With this lack of education in mind, it’s vital that organizations take steps to embrace more secure password management strategies.
Effective strategies include adopting multi-factor authentication and deploying a password manager. Multi-factor authentication provides an additional layer of security by prompting users to enter a time-limited code that can be texted or emailed to them, while password managers create long, complex passwords that are automatically updated on a regular basis.
3. Access Management
If your business hosts important data and systems in the cloud, it’s vital that you control which employees have access to it. Many organizations have multiple levels of account, each with different levels of access to critical tools and files.
Administrator accounts, typically belonging to IT teams, have the highest level of account access and should be protected with extra layers of security. On the other hand, regular employees should only be able to access the systems and data that they need to perform their everyday duties.
Prohibiting unnecessary access to key systems ensures that in the event an attacker breaches an employee account, they’re only able to access limited areas of your cloud environment. That limits the potential for wider system disruption.
4. Conduct Regular Penetration Testing
Embracing periodic penetration testing ensures that if there are any security flaws in your cloud security management, your team finds them before attackers do. That gives you a chance to remedy any issues before they’re exploited by malicious actors.
A penetration test is a simulated attack that is undertaken to establish the security of your network. These tests are carried out by cybersecurity professionals who mimic the techniques used by attackers. You might see these professionals referred to as ethical hackers.
Penetration testing is different from a vulnerability assessment, which is an automated scan of your network to search for known vulnerabilities such as missing software patches. Both are important, but a penetration test helps to detect issues that you didn’t previously know about that could result in a major security incident.
5. Updating Cybersecurity Policies
As businesses continue to add new cloud technologies to their tech stacks, it’s important that they continuously update their cybersecurity policies to reflect these new tools. These policies serve an important role in enabling companies to better protect their employees and systems.
Cybersecurity policies dictate all kinds of important decisions, from which employees have access to certain systems to the frequency with which passwords must be updated. In a time where remote work has become commonplace for companies, these policies are even more important in ensuring cloud environments remain secure.
No two cybersecurity policies should be identical and it’s important to take a tailored approach that’s suited to the needs of your organization’s business goals and existing cybersecurity maturity level. Partnering with a firm experienced in developing cybersecurity policies can be an important step in building a more robust cloud security apparatus.
6. Adopt Continuous Monitoring Software
Cloud computing environments are often expansive in their scale, even in small companies. Sufficiently monitoring this security around the clock requires security teams to deploy software that automates this process.
Continuous monitoring tools help security teams to identify and diagnose potential security incidents in real-time. There are various types of continuous monitoring software. These tools can be used to track everything from your organization’s infrastructure to the performance of specific applications.
The wide scope of continuous monitoring tools offers security teams unparalleled visibility into the performance and security of cloud environments. That helps IT leaders track key metrics and respond effectively to any unfolding security threats.
7. Embrace Cyber Threat Intelligence
It’s difficult for security teams to adequately protect their cloud environments if they lack an up-to-date picture of the current threats their organization faces. By adopting threat intelligence tools, security teams can build a more comprehensive understanding of the common attack vectors used by bad actors. With this knowledge, it’s easier to allocate resources toward mitigating frequently occurring threats.
The attacks organizations are exposed to are more sophisticated and diverse than ever. By making a concerted effort to better understand the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by attackers, organizations can better defend themselves against potential attackers on both a tactical and a strategic level.
8. Work with a Managed Cybersecurity Service Provider
If you’re not sure to start with any of the best practices outlined above, it’s likely that your organization would benefit significantly from outsourcing your cybersecurity needs to a managed cybersecurity service provider.
Not every SMB has the internal resources to handle the complex infrastructure that comes with cloud security management. Partnering with an external cybersecurity firm provides organizations with access to proven systems and frameworks that are designed and deployed by cybersecurity experts.
At Tech Heads, our team of cybersecurity consultants has pooled their expertise to create THInc. OpsTM is a managed cybersecurity service that provides a complete solution for SMBs in need of a robust cybersecurity foundation.
Interested in learning more about how Tech Heads can support your cloud security management needs? Get started today.
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