The digital age increased human productivity but also opened up companies to greater security threats. Even a minor data security breach can destroy a company’s reputation, causing it to lose customers or stock value. In the end, it also hinders productivity as employees scramble into damage control mode.
Many strategies are available to improve your focus on cybersecurity, which remains high on the shareholders’ agenda and always on the mind of IT staff.
This is particularly important with respect to the use of the cloud, which is now powering most of the business solutions for increasing productivity. The cloud allows teams the flexibility to work anytime from anywhere, increasing real-time collaboration and sharing opportunities.
The challenge, of course, is that unauthorized users can reach the system and access your client and customer information due to the public nature of the cloud. According to Forbes, many people find the cloud and security in conflict.
While people think of the cloud as the latest technology for agility and speed, they tend to think of security as drastically slowing down business processes.
Best Practices for Secure Cloud Utilization
According to a recent survey by SANS, 40% of organizations store or process data in the public cloud. 62% of respondents find unauthorized access by outsiders and cloud tenants to be their biggest security concerns related to cloud application use.
In contrast, managed private cloud computing as a service is more secure yet more expensive to maintain, making them cost prohibitive, as in-house IT security personnel are typically required to maintain private cloud servers. To achieve a balance between IT security and productivity, a hybrid cloud offers an excellent solution. Hybrid clouds allow companies to maintain a level of control over their data while giving their employees greater opportunities for high-level productivity.
While the cloud increases workflow productivity, it also poses some risks. For this reason, companies should consider implementing additional security tactics such as data encryption, a password vault or two-factor authentication for employees and vendors access to their hybrid cloud data. In addition, employee training in online security tactics becomes an imperative component of balancing data security with productivity.
1. Encrypted Cloud Storage
Data encryption represents one of the most effective means of protecting information stored on the cloud. Depending on the service provider, either a portion or the entirety of data uploaded is encrypted with a key. The key is then passed back to the company uploading the data for their exclusive access. In the event data is stolen, it cannot be read without the encryption key.
While encryption cloud solutions tend to be more expensive due to increased bandwidth requirements, the liability associated with losing confidential client data outweighs the cost. According to a survey of over 400 executives, 46% of them considered security their greatest business concern but 28% of the same executives had data uploaded to the cloud without encryption.
2. Password Vaults
LastPass is a prime example of a password vault and provides companies with the ability to generate secure and unique passwords for each employee, application or website. Random password generators for each website or application for which your company registers is one of the beneficial features of LastPass. Fingerprint swipe is also an option for the LastPass application.
When your organization needs to grant access to an outside vendor, LastPass randomly creates an encrypted password to the vendor for temporary use and removes the password when no longer needed. The tactics used here are also beneficial when an employee leaves the company to maintain protection of company data.
KeePass also offers password vault services and a unique password generator. Two of the advantages of KeePass include the fact that the service is free and open source. Thus a firm’s IT personnel could adapt the password vault programming to suit the specific needs of their company.
3. Manage Risk With Two-Factor Authentication
Another method for increased security is the two-factor authentication. For example, banks often use tokens, which are electronic devices given to a user that will generate a random number every 60 seconds. The user must enter the number within the allotted time in order to gain access to the website or application.
Many websites today use two-factor authentication in order to send a one time code to the mobile phone of the user. The code is then entered on the website in order to proceed even after a password was entered. The extra step can slow down employee productivity but many companies deem the additional security to be worth the decrease.
4. Cloud Security Certification / Security as a Service
With cloud security concerns on the rise, outsourcing security services allow many small to mid-size firms to utilize experienced cloud professionals without maintaining a full time IT staff.
These pay-per-use services can optimize your company’s IT budget and give you a chance to improve your focus on running your business instead of chasing down data security issues.
5. Employee Training For Security Risks
A significant portion of time and resources are often spent training employees how do best perform their jobs productively, but little to train staff on the importance of security. With proper training, employees can serve as the first line of defense in protecting the data that they utilize every day.
For example, establishing company policies to limit employee permissions to surf the web and download files could positively impact both productivity and security.
In Closing, Leverage Cloud Security Tools
IT security professionals should design their programs, applications, and websites to time out after a certain period. This limits the access of unauthorized persons if the user happens to step away from their computer without logging out first. Though this is one of the simplest methods to protect your company’s data, it is effective.
Much of security in the cloud boils down to effective risk management. Productivity boils down to making sure employees have the resources and tools necessary to perform to their best abilities. While companies spend enormous resources, time and money to protect their information and computer networks, these investments can only pay off when there is a balance between security and productivity.