Cloud Data Protection

Data Protection in the Cloud: 8 Best Practices

As an on-demand, self-service environment, the cloud is now vital to achieving end-to-end digital transformation. Companies looking to move on from outdated and increasingly inefficient legacy infrastructures and gain flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness are now turning to the cloud. As of 2022, over 60% of all corporate data is stored in the cloud. 

Unfortunately, despite the cloud’s immense benefits, cloud data loss is common and can occur for several reasons. 

Human Error

According to Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), deletion is the leading cause of SaaS data loss, whether accidental (20%), external and malicious (19%), or internal and malicious (6%). Employee negligence or human error is responsible for most data loss incidents and breaches in the SaaS world. Verizon reports that more than 80% of breaches involved a human element.

Overwriting Data

SaaS applications hold large amounts of constantly added and updated data. Overwriting data occurs when you import large data sets into the application via bulk uploads or when integrated third-party applications are used to manage the data inside the base SaaS applications.


The inherent value and impact of data on business operations have made it a prime target for cybercriminals. As a result, we’re seeing a sharp rise in data breaches disrupting business continuity and compromising enterprises’ security and compliance posture globally. In these breaches, attackers are commonly exploiting blind spots and misconfigurations. 

Malicious Insiders

Insider threats originate from within your organization. It usually involves a current or former employee or business partner who has access to sensitive data or privileged accounts within your network and who misuses this access.

Cloud Data Protection Best Practices

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to cloud data protection, here are eight best practices to help you get started.

1. Examine Built-in Security

Most cloud providers offer built-in security controls that enable users to customize the level of security they require. Unfortunately, these security controls may have default settings that can cause security misconfigurations to impact their applications and infrastructure negatively.

To simplify configuration, check if your cloud provider offers security posture measurement. For example, the Microsoft Secure Score allows users to configure their Azure tenant according to Microsoft’s best practices to fine-tune these built-in security controls.

You can also refer to security best practices outlined by reputable organizations such as CIS (Center for Internet Security), which offer guidelines to maximize cloud security using built-in security controls.

2. Backup Consistently

Create data replicates regularly and store them separately from the central repository. Consistent backups can help protect your organization from critical data losses, especially during a data wipeout or a lockdown. Data replicas also enable you to continue working offline even when cloud assets are unavailable.

3. Utilize Encryption

Encryption is one of the most effective components of a cloud security strategy. Cloud encryption protects data as it moves between cloud-based applications and when stored in the cloud. It renders sensitive data indecipherable, so if the information is lost, stolen or accessed by an unauthorized user, it is useless without the encryption keys. 

Beyond data misuse, cloud encryption also addresses other critical security issues, including regulatory compliance standards and enhanced protection against unauthorized access from other public cloud tenants.

4. Expose Shadow IT

Eight percent of employees use non-sanctioned apps not reviewed by the IT team and may not comply with your security and compliance policies. In addition, when employees use unknown software or hardware, they risk transferring sensitive data from trusted systems and devices to unauthorized endpoints, the possibility of unpatched vulnerabilities, and problems with IT compliance. 

To mitigate the risk of Shadow IT, here are a few steps you should take:

  • Implement shadow IT detection
  • Empower your employees with the right tools
  • Educate employees with security awareness training
  • Establish comprehensive security policies

5. Implement Identity and Access Management 

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is used to initiate, capture, record, and manage user identities and their access permissions. As a result, all users are authenticated, authorized, and evaluated according to policies and roles to ensure the right individuals have access to the right resources at the right time for the right reasons across increasingly heterogeneous technology environments.

6. Create Comprehensive Security Policies

An organization-wide policy is the best way to ensure everyone uses the cloud correctly. Create guidelines that indicate who can use cloud services, how they can use them, and which data can be stored in the cloud. It would be best if you also outlined specific security technologies employees must implement to protect cloud data and applications. In addition, your security team should have automated solutions to ensure that everyone follows these policies. 

7. Use Intrusion Detection and Prevention Technology

Intrusion Detection and Prevention solutions help organizations detect and prevent vulnerability exploits on their networks and applications. You can scan network traffic and determine if there are any malicious attacks or vulnerabilities against target applications, computers, or workloads.

8. Secure Your Endpoints

Endpoints are access points to all cloud data and must be protectedEndpoint detection and response (EDR) tools combine traditional endpoint security tactics such as firewalls, anti-malware, intrusion detection, and access control with continuous monitoring and automated response. EDR addresses several critical security requirements, including endpoint encryption, patch management, VPNs, and insider threat prevention.

Wrapping Up

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to protecting your data in the cloud. Instead, organizations need different best practices that depend on various factors, from the amount and type of sensitive data and applications used to industry compliance regulations. 

If you need help with cloud data protection, Gibraltar has the expertise and resources to manage and secure your entire digital estate. 

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