Now that the cloud is commonplace within the business community, many businesses – from startups to established corporate giants – have determined that a hybrid cloud environment is the best option. Combining the flexibility and security of the private cloud with the affordability of public cloud services, a hybrid cloud environment gives businesses the best of both worlds while increasing their productivity and efficiency. At the very least, managing at least some of their data in the public cloud ensures that in the event of an outage, the business can continue to function.
Of course, security is a concern in any cloud environment – 77 percent of IT professionals say it’s a top concern –, and the use of the public cloud creates additional concerns related to the transmission of sensitive company data across public networks. By understanding the risks from the start and designing your system with security in min, you can avoid many of the issues that can arise from using the public cloud and protect your company against significant losses related to a data breach, malware infection, ransomware, or other danger.
Put the Right Data in the Right Place
The first step to an effective hybrid cloud security plan is to make appropriate determinations as to what data lives where. Many businesses opt to store business critical data, such as customer information, intellectual property, etc., on the private cloud while delegating email, CRM software, and certain applications to the public cloud. Not only does this help with security management, but also ensures that your startup is able to maximize resources. Hybrid cloud environments are significantly easier to scale than private cloud only; infrastructure is expensive to expand, upgrade, and maintain, but using the public cloud allows for more scalability while ensuring that on-premises or private cloud servers have the space for mission critical data.
Get on the Same Page
One mistake startups often make when migrating to any cloud environment is assuming that the cloud provider has security under control, and they have a limited role to play in protecting their data. This is inaccurate and can contribute to security breaches.
Regardless of your cloud setup, it’s vital to understand exactly what your cloud provider does to ensure security, how they respond to and report incidents, and how they mitigate risks. Security begins with selecting the most appropriate cloud provider for your needs, but you have a role to play as well. Your cloud provider will only provide the underlying infrastructure, while you need to develop the specific policies and procedures to protect your data and applications. This means implementing secure access procedures and policies regarding updates and patches, ensuring the encryption of data, and managing the overall configuration of the system to ensure security. It’s also important to understand the provider’s terms of service. For instance, some cloud providers have access to client organizational data, which may not be something you want.
Encrypting data is a key aspect of any security protocol, but it’s especially important in a hybrid cloud environment. Data is constantly being moved between public and private clouds, and as public clouds are always at risk of breach, encryption is an absolute necessity. In addition to encryption, using a secure VPN and strong authentication processes are also important to keeping data safe in a hybrid environment.
Many entrepreneurs overlook one of the most common sources of attacks on their data: endpoints. An endpoint is any device that connects to your network, from computers and mobile devices to printers, copiers, and even the office coffee maker if it is Wi-fi enabled. Therefore, endpoint protection is essential to a secure hybrid cloud environment. You must employ an effective authentication protocol to ensure that every endpoint accessing your network is what it claims to be, and that unauthorized access is forbidden.
Another important part of your hybrid cloud security protocol is understanding the risks to your business and how you can effectively mitigate them. This entails paying close attention to the risks to your industry and similar businesses, and how other companies have addressed them. It also means understanding your greatest vulnerabilities and addressing them in terms of priority. Being constantly on alert for threats and deploying the best tools and policies to mitigate them as soon as possible can significantly reduce the risk of your business becoming another statistic in the ongoing war against cybercrime.