Are Employees’ Use of Cloud Storage a Security Risk?
As more enterprises encourage the use of the cloud for file sharing and storage by their employees, understanding the risks of cloud computing is important. Without a doubt, employees can create, store, and control information using cloud applications more than before. However, these capabilities increase cybersecurity risk for enterprise data. That said, employers should approach this adoption with a heightened focus on various cloud data security measures.
Security risks associated with cloud storage include:
1. Reduced Data Control
The use of various cloud services, such as Dropbox, Microsoft Azure, and Google Drive in various business processes has made it difficult for businesses to control sensitive data. The challenge is that these are third-party service providers, meaning that any information shared over cloud applications is taken outside the employers’ IT network. In such situations, data control is way beyond the company’s control.
Additionally, all cloud applications are designed to provide real-time data backup. Therefore, all information, even what wasn’t meant to be shared, is backed up and can be viewed by individuals with unauthorized access. To mitigate these risks, employers should ensure that they encrypt files during cloud transit and storage.
2. Data Leakage
Most businesses that avoid or haven’t considered adopting cloud services do so to avoid possible data leakages. Unlike physical storage devices, the cloud is a multi-user environment and a third-party service. Therefore, you can’t write off the risks that your data can be accessed by other parties, especially if the cloud service provider mishandles it.
Doubting the capabilities of third-party applications is human nature. However, there are big risks involved in this situation since it involves sensitive business and customer data. Besides cloud service providers mishandling your data, several other threats, such as malicious hacks and compromised user accounts, can also lead to data leakage. To avert this risk, companies should embrace file encryption and use strong passwords.
3. Risks of BYOD
Increased adoption of cloud storage has made it possible for employees to work remotely and ease the use of BYOD models. While this model has enormous benefits for both employers and employees, it presents a huge risk. Generally, BYOD saves employers from incurring the costs of purchasing IT devices for their employees. Similarly, it gives employees unmatched convenience and flexibility.
However, this working model presents serious security risks if not managed properly. For instance, misused or stolen devices hand over sensitive business data to third parties who can breach the company network or compromise valuable information. Discovering data breaches from these devices is difficult, especially without proper tools.
4. Corrupt API and Storage Gateways
Companies migrating to the cloud require APIs and storage gateways to ease migration into the servers. Basically, these tools act as middlemen between users and cloud storage service providers. While they ease cloud migration, insecure API and gateways may damage or corrupt your data.
Cloud Storage Security Best Practices
Before joining the cloud storage bandwagon, ensure that you are familiar with some cloud storage best practices. Key practices include:
1. Develop and Implement a Cloud Storage Strategy
Companies should develop and implement a cloud storage strategy to minimize these risks. The strategy should outline clear storage ideas, security requirements, and other guides for employees accessing and storing information online. The strategy should be generalized, as segmenting cloud initiatives to different departments often leads to confusion, misalignment, slows productivity, and hinders scalability.
Therefore, involve your entire company and departmental teams in the development and implementation of cloud strategy. Have a consensus on how departmental teams should adopt the cloud storage policy while ensuring maximum cybersecurity regulations. The strategy should include:
- How and when the company should leverage cloud computing
- How employees should access, manage, secure, and integrate cloud services in their working environment
- How the existing data centers, procedures, and infrastructures will change
2. Develop a Cloud Storage Policy
A cloud policy should outline various essentials of cloud storage. For starters, identify which data should be stored under which cloud storage service provider. Ensure that you balance various providers when backing up to minimize the risks of exposure and data loss. Consider the following when deciding on the cloud storage service provider you choose:
- Security – the provider, should provide assurance of maximum data confidentiality.
- Compliance – does the service provider meet the relevant requirements?
- Availability – this includes the recovery process in case of data loss and disruptions.
- Agility – can the cloud storage provider respond to unexpected changes swiftly?
- Reliability – is the service provider reliable and suits your business model?
Ensure that your choice of cloud storage service provider meets the above domains.
Should Employers be Worried?
As cloud storage continually becomes mainstream, employers should continually update their operation models. If done properly, employees using cloud storage services won’t present any risks to the business. However, businesses should undertake several measures to ensure that employees make the best from cloud storage. This includes rigorous employee training and policy formation.
Employers who terminate their employment contracts due to cloud storage risks without providing guidance are subject to serious legal suits. With the help of employment lawyers, employees can claim compensation for violations of the employment law.