Posted on March 17, 2022
Estimated reading time 8 minutes
In the rush to digitally transform their business and enable remote work, many firms have unwittingly created cybersecurity blind spots. Unlike previous weaknesses, which used a traditional perimeter-based approach, firms must now evolve their thinking on cloud security to tackle today’s threats.
Our experience as cyber and cloud security experts means we see too many firms thinking they won’t be breached. Unfortunately, such a mentality is exactly what turns companies into targets and enables hackers to steal data and disrupt business processes.
Despite media stereotypes of hacker fronts orchestrating complex attacks, lone actors can exploit simple vulnerabilities in software. With new common vulnerability exposures being published every week, proper security governance and regular IT security audits are now more important than ever. Senior leaders must act quickly to plug the holes in their organisation and achieve the new cloud security standard: the ‘zero trust’ model.
Penalties from poor cloud security can range from fines to reputational harm, meaning companies have lots to lose if they’re not careful. In this article, we’d like to go back to the basics and discuss the four core principles of cybersecurity.
Amid a constantly evolving landscape, you can ensure your security governance is equipped with the latest technologies and grounded in robust IT security monitoring standards. Read on to learn more.
1. View cloud security as a journey
Cyber security is a dynamic environment, not a static achievement. Firms cannot rely on one-time IT security audits — no matter how comprehensive — to establish the level of protection needed in the modern cybersecurity arms race.
As computing technologies and skills have developed, cyberattacks are growing in frequency and sophistication. As a result, the nature of cyber threats has diversified over time. Firms must combat varied threats like DDoS attacks, phishing attempts, remote-access Trojans and spyware, just to name a few. Moreover, ‘plug and play’ hacking tools are available to purchase for as little as £40 by cybercriminals, signalling that cybercrime is now a formalised industry.
Recent data showed 60% of medium-sized firms have experienced a hack, costing around £9,000 each time, and incidences of ransomware have exploded since 2020. Worryingly, compromised IT systems are consistently under-represented in surveys. Research suggests that, while the vast majority of hacks happen in minutes, an almost equal amount take IT teams months to find. As such, your current IT network may already have undetected spyware or trojan viruses.
Senior leaders must evolve their view of security governance to an ongoing process using cloud-first tools. Traditional perimeter-based approaches are ill-equipped to deal with today’s threats. Remote working has caused the perimeter to widen and grow porous from personal devices and unsecured WiFi networks accessing corporate IT assets. With help from expert cloud security providers, your business can establish a zero-trust network model and keep pace with the evolving demands of cybercrime.
How to establish zero-trust networks
Zero-trust networks are the new standard of security governance. The aim of this cloud security model is to ensure no single employee or device has access to the whole network. In practice, IT teams establish Least Privilege Access and Privileged Identity Management protocol to control file and software access.
Least Privilege Access allows employees to have access to all the files and software they need but no more, while Privileged Identity Management prohibits access rights from creeping up over time. Zero-trust network models also help combat vulnerabilities from employees’ own devices, public WiFi networks or sign in attempts from suspicious locations.
You can learn more about zero-trust network models in our guide What is identity management?
2. Start with data, then processes
After conducting an IT security audit, it can be difficult to decide on your most pressing cybersecurity vulnerabilities. As a leading cloud security service provider, we recommend securing your data before anything else.
Your data is the most important aspect of your security governance plan as it’s ultimately what hackers are trying to access and what may cause your business harm. However, it’s important to avoid using a one-size-fits-all approach as data security expectations vary across industries.
For instance, all UK businesses must comply with GDPR legislation that standardises the protections over the customer records you hold. Yet, your firm may also hold information on proprietary technology or ongoing legal matters that, if leaked, could affect your market position or brand.
Therefore, you can account for your business’s unique security requirements by using a customisable cloud security toolkit. Even if hackers brute-force their way into your server or attempt a ‘man in the middle attack’, your data can’t be interpreted or misused.
How to secure your data
You can secure your data using tools like end-to-end encryption and multi-factor authentication protocols. Each is a staple of cloud security within zero-trust networks, helping to protect your data and prevent leaks.
End-to-end encryption encrypts your data at-source, during transmission and upon arrival, ensuring your data is only readable/usable by those within your network and who have permission to use it. Multi-factor authentication creates a multi-tiered sign-in process wherein attempts to access your data is verified against multiple benchmarks, including passwords, biometric data or known devices.
Additionally, you can also protect your data by staying up to date with the latest security patches and validating data inputs during access attempts.
3. Train employees for reliable security governance
‘Social engineering’ is one of the most common cyberattack methods. Phishing attacks alone account for 80% of business data breaches. Here, hackers bypass even the most sophisticated cloud security infrastructure because they tricked your own employees into providing access.
For this reason, it’s crucial to train your staff on security governance standards and IT security monitoring. By empowering your employees to identify and avoid threats, you can establish comprehensive cloud security protections and limit the likelihood of breaches.
How to communicate security governance standards effectively
Senior leaders must be mindful when communicating the necessity of IT security monitoring to their employees.
Some of your employees may have been victims of data leaks themselves and understand the need to safeguard data. However, some employees may feel frustrated when suddenly having to request access to routine files and software tools just to perform their job. Others still may feel uncomfortable about having data logged on their computer activities.
You can demonstrate how easily data breaches occur by sharing examples of sophisticated spear-phishing examples. You can also showcase the urgency for new tools to protect your business by highlighting the impact of data leaks on revenue generation. For example, 20% of organisations lose customers during a cyberattack, creating a negative impact on your long-term revenue and brand reputation.
By onboarding your employees to the new cloud security plan, you can establish sustainable security governance standards across your entire organisation. Moreover, identity management and access-based tools can help streamline security protocols so cloud security doesn’t cost productivity.
How to train employees on cloud security best practices
Security should feel like a natural part of your business and regular IT security audits help create a culture of continual IT security monitoring.
At Atech, we offer a range of services to help train your employees on cloud security best practices. For example, we offer Security Awareness Training: an engaging and succinct video series with an online quiz to verify the employee’s new understanding of the topic. We also provide Simulated Phishing Attacks wherein we send out customised phishing emails with de-weaponized payloads, helping you identify gaps in your team’s security vigilance.
We generate comprehensive performance reports, allowing you to offer targeted training and support.
4. Use real-time analytics
Remote and flexible working have complicated how firms manage cloud security. With employees connecting from anywhere in the world and at odd schedules, the huge volumes of signals and tooling complexity is simply overwhelming. For instance, just one of our mid-market STEM clients recorded 4.4 million million security events in a 4 month period . As such, it’s become impossible for IT experts to maintain security standards on their own.
Luckily, cloud security tools like Azure Sentinel using AI are redefining the way IT security monitoring teams profile network behaviour and detect threats. For example, machine learning algorithms can study employee activity over time and identify hackers by measuring deviations from typical usage patterns. Furthermore, intelligent travel policies allow you to deny remote access attempts to IP addresses outside the known location of your employees and automate recovery steps.
Moreover, Microsoft’s automated software operates in real-time, helping you identify and respond to threats as they happen and prevent breaches from happening in the first place. As a result, today’s cloud security tools can transform your security governance into a truly proactive method, helping you avoid headlines and fines from data breaches.
How to stay ahead with proactive IT security monitoring
If you’re keen to position your business at the forefront of cyber security, what do you need to do?
Firstly, implementing a zero-trust network is essential to modernise your security operations and defend against threats in the era of cloud computing. The zero-trust network model establishes maximum security standards without compromising on efficiency. Smart identity management protocols remove the hassle of IT verification while role-based permissions provide employees with access to everything they require to remain productive.
Secondly, you can utilise cloud security firms to ensure your IT infrastructure is equipped with the latest security features and optimised to your requirements. Managed service providers like Atech can help you navigate the dynamic environment of cyber security as data management practices develop and cyber threats evolve.
Deliver the fundamentals of security governance in your business
More businesses than ever are affected by data breaches and cyberattacks.
Not only are attacks becoming more sophisticated, but they’re also becoming more frequent. Under their current implementation, existing security tools and traditional approaches are not equipped for multi-cloud and hybrid business environments. Furthermore, the move to remote working has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities and created an even more pressing case for intelligent cloud security tools.
Ensure your business follows best-practice data security policies and utilises enterprise-grade technologies to keep your data safe. Via a zero-trust network, you can build upon the fundamentals of cybersecurity. Moreover, with help from a cloud security partner, you can achieve a hardened security stance that evolves alongside future developments in cybercrime.
Discover leading cloud security benefits with Atech
Atech is a multi-Gold Microsoft partner and a leading provider of cloud security solutions.
We have extensive experience in helping mid-sized businesses address gaps in their security as they settle into new ways of working remotely.
We can help migrate you to more secure Microsoft-enabled platforms as well as provide ongoing support and maintenance for your existing cloud security infrastructure.
Get in touch to learn more about our expertise and services, and ensure your data is safe from hackers with an intelligent zero-trust network.