Here are six simple ways to help keep your data safe
The cloud has revolutionised the way we work with and store data.
Many of today’s businesses could be hindered without the convenience of Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace for accessing documents, or accounting applications such as QuickBooks or Xero – all of which are available anytime, anywhere*.
But these cloud services come with risks if you don’t secure them correctly. You have to think about your business the same way as you would think of your home – don’t make it easy for cybercriminals to get in by leaving the door unlocked or the keys easily accessible.
Here we share six ways you can make your cloud solutions more secure:
1. Make your passwords secure
Taking your password policies seriously is the first step in bolstering your data security toolset.
Make sure you and your colleagues are setting strong passwords and are setting reminders every few months to change them regularly. To make a strong password you should include a mixture of letters – both upper case and lower case – and numbers. It’s best to make it longer than 8 characters and not related to any personal information such as birthdates. Don’t make it easy for anyone to guess!
In addition to a strong password, you could go one step further and introduce two-factor authentication for an extra layer of security. This combines something you know (your password) with something you have (such as your phone which generates a code you use to pass the security test).
2. Keep your anti-virus software up to date
After implementing a solid password policy, ensuring you keep your anti-virus software up to date is critical to protecting your data.
Your software should automatically check for updates every day, but it’s also important to manually review your computer’s security system regularly to double check you’re still covered.
And don’t forget to install the latest operating system on your laptop or smart device – these patches are crucial to keep your digital life secure.
3. Back-up your data
While the chances of your cloud service provider losing your data is very low, there’s still the possibility of human error or an attack so it’s always a good idea to have a back-up.
Consider cloud to cloud (C2C) back-up to be extra secure with the information that you’re responsible for. C2C back-up means that your information is stored in two separate clouds and you don’t have to rely on one provider – so if a system fails, you should be able to restore your data from the second cloud.
4. Be careful with sensitive information
Since May 2018, the UK and wider EU has been under the jurisdiction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This legislation has given end-users more control over their data and privacy online. While the legislation is welcomed in an increasingly digital world, it has meant businesses now face fines for not putting in place the appropriate measures to protect customer data.
Avoid keeping sensitive information in the cloud (such as copies of employee personal information). And if you’re storing customer data in a SaaS-based cloud service, make sure you use a reputable software company and take extra steps to protect that information – such as implementing a policy which restricts the number of people in your organisation who have access.
5. Encryption is key
Only use cloud service providers who encrypt your data, preferably both locally (on your computer) and in the cloud – which provides you with an extra layer of security.
And if you’re uploading sensitive information to the cloud, make sure to encrypt this data yourself first using an encryption software provider, like AxCrypt and Folder Lock, which provides you with a unique key.
6. Test your security measures
It’s important to control who can access the platforms your company is using and make sure you set measures over what can and cannot be uploaded to the cloud. Additionally, staff training in basic cybersecurity is vital.
Once you have all these measures in place, make sure you test and test again, to help you pinpoint any weaknesses in your data protection strategy.