Cloud services have become one of the most convenient and modern ways businesses store their digital assets. Their top-notch features and benefits have made 93 % of enterprises globally adopt a multi-cloud strategy.
Thereby moving away from the traditional storage of digital assets on computers. However, there are challenges that come with it. One of them is the inability to protect digital assets stored via these services.
In this piece, I will discuss with you 5 simple ways businesses can protect their assets stored via cloud services.
Let’s begin with the basics.
What Are Digital Assets?
Simply put, digital assets are content in different formats that provide value to the owner and can be stored digitally. Examples are Audio files, video files, various forms of digital media, PDFs, Spreadsheets, Presentation slides, Images, HTML and CSS files, etc.
Why are they stored via cloud services?
Businesses store digital assets on cloud services because of the following:
- To make them readily available when needed.
- Save cost involved in storing assets using the traditional method.
- To ensure that team members can meet online, share and work on content of any kind.
- Reduce the carbon footprint that businesses give off.
- Compete effectively with other large businesses that are technology-driven.
What are the examples of cloud services businesses use?
- Cloud services that businesses use are of different types.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): E.g Heroku, Google App engine, etc.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): E.g Slack, Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce, etc.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): E.g Microsoft Azure, Dropbox, etc.
That being said, let’s dive into the main points.
Ways Small Businesses Can Protect Their Digital Assets Stored Via Cloud Services
1. Make use of Virtual Private Network (VPN)
This is an internet security service that ensures that the connection between servers and user devices is encrypted.
Connecting to a VPN protects your business data and prevents eavesdropping. The information is encrypted through a VPN tunnel and is routed through the VPN server, stopping anyone without the correct decoder from seeing what you’re doing on the internet.
Thereby making it impossible for a person without a decryption key to access the information being transferred between the user device and servers. Businesses use VPN to share networks between their different office locations or even to access sensitive digital assets store via cloud services.
The goal here is to prevent traffic containing proprietary data from being made available to the open internet. The use of VPN is very important to businesses especially for employees that work remotely. When employees work outside business premises or work from home, they tend to connect to public internet which is not so when they are working within the business premises.
To avoid exposing their traffic to prying eyes, the ideal thing is to use a business VPN to encrypt such traffic. Here is an article that discusses more on the best VPN services to use.
2. Stay away from a public internet connection
Public internet connections through Wi-Fi are readily available in many locations around the world. Although the use of VPN helps here, you must avoid its frequent usage as a business if you care about your digital assets. The dangers are numerous and even out-numbers the benefits.
A cyber attacker can set up a rogue Wi-Fi and you will be deceived into using it because it is free, hence doesn’t cost you a fee. Hackers can take the advantage of unsecured public internet to share malware which can directly attack, infect and destroy the sensitive data you have stored in your devices.
Most cybercriminals take the advantage of public internet to snoop and snip into what employees of businesses are doing on various websites. Thereby obtaining login details to various cloud services where they stored their digital assets.
In addition, you can be vulnerable to worm attacks which makes it possible for others to see your encrypted messages, unsecured logins, and emails that are sensitive to your business.
3. Make use of data anonymization
Data anonymization is another way businesses can protect their digital assets stored via cloud services. It’s simply the act of protecting sensitive information either by encrypting identifiers that connect a person to a stored data or by erasing it. There are methods of data anonymization which you can implement in order to protect your digital assets and below are some of them:
This involves changing slightly the original value of datasets by adding random noise and rounding up numbers. Here, the range of values should correspond to the perturbation.
This method is all about removing some of the data intentionally to make it difficult to identify. For example, during sign up for any of the cloud services, you can remove the house number in your address but not the road name. The aim is to reduce the rate at which people can guess your address while making sure the data you provide is within the accuracy range.
Masking of data
Masking of data is simply hiding the original data value with altered values. It makes it difficult for hackers to use detection or reverse engineering to have access to your sensitive details for any of the cloud services you use. With it, you can replace value characters with symbols and create a mirror version of a database.
Swapping of data
This is a data anonymization technique that involves re-arranging datasets attributed to values so that they don’t match with the original details. The idea is to create a pair of records with related attributes then interchanging them to reduce the risk of disclosing sensitive data.
Synthetic data are information produced by the algorithm which is not related to real values. Instead of altering the original data, synthetic data can be used to create artificial datasets which help to reduce the risk involved when original datasets are used.
The benefits of data anonymization can’t be over-emphasized in this age of cybercrime. No wonder tech-driven companies embrace it.
It works against companies losing their market shares by ensuring that they are aware of the need to secure their digital assets stored on cloud services. Also, it minimizes the risk of exploitation of sensitive data by employees of such companies. However, its disadvantage is that it can require more resources.
4. 2-Factor Authorization (2FA)
Using a username and password to protect access to cloud services where your digital assets are stored isn’t enough. With the rate of cyberattacks and usage of public internet connection, exposing your username and password is easy. That’s where 2-Factor Authorization comes in.
It is an additional layer of security you can use to ensure that entering of username and password isn’t enough to get access to your cloud services. Instead of immediate login to your services with a username and password, you will need to provide extra information.
2-Factor Authorization makes it difficult for someone to gain access to where you stored your digital assets even when your username and password are compromised.
Take, for instance, you lost a PC or Smartphone that you didn’t lock. It will be difficult for someone to access the cloud services you use even if they are able to enter correctly your username and password. Why? They have the 2FA hurdle to cross.
Types of 2-Factor Authorization
2 Factor Authorization are of different types and every cloud service has its own which you can set in minutes. Below are some of the most popular.
- Voice and SMS based 2FA
Voice-based 2FA involves dialing the number of the user and delivering the 2FA via voice. The challenge of this method is that a poor network can affect the time from when a user wants to access his account to when the 2FA code will be delivered.
SMS-based 2FA is simply receiving a unique one-time passcode (OTP) through a text message on the phone number you used when signing up for such a cloud service. Some banks and electronic payment platforms use it to authenticate online transactions.
- 2FA through Push Notification
Google has this as one of its 2FA. You receive a push notification on your device that there is an authentication attempt. With a one-time tap on your device, you can decide to approve or deny such access. This works best if you have a strong internet connection on your device.
- Soft token
This is the most popular 2FA among businesses. It works with a one-time passcode or soft token. To use it, you must download a 2FA app on your desktop or smartphone. Then you can use it on any of your cloud services that support soft token. When you enter your username and password to login and prompt the app, the soft token is displayed and it is valid for not more than a minute.
5. Cyber Insurance
As you think about using the methods I stated above to protect your digital assets, don’t forget about cyber insurance. Only a few businesses know about this.
It can be a fallback in an event that you lose your digital assets. The cost of investigating what led to the security compromise, taking care of the losses, and recovering compromised data are some of the things cyber insurance can cover.
The rate of cyberattacks is high. On a daily basis, businesses and organizations lose their digital assets stored via cloud services to hackers due to poor security measures taken to protect them.
I trust you now have the basic knowledge of how to protect your digital assets with all that I discussed with you above. You can start implementing these methods today to guard against hackers.
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About the author
Chuks Chukwuemeka is a Content Creator, Blogger, and Digital Marketer. He’s the founder of DepreneurDigest, an online business blog. He specializes in helping small businesses grow their online presence through blogging.