We live in a data-driven world, where it’s easier than ever to collect large amounts of data as well as analyze it and gain valuable insights. Business intelligence is more important than ever, and companies utilize various tools to make the most of it.

However, with such a large amount of data comes the problem of storage. Most businesses, especially smaller ones, don’t have space and means to maintain on-site data servers. That’s where hosted cloud storage comes into play.

Those who don’t use cloud storage services worry about safety, but statistics speak for themselves — 90% of companies are in the cloud already.

Here’s what you can do to further enhance the safety of your cloud-stored data.

Pick a Provider Carefully

The first and most important step in ensuring the security of your data in the cloud is picking the right provider. Once you’ve gotten that right, the hardest part is done. You’ll be left to take a couple of extra security measures, but you’ll be able to rest easy.

In order to choose the right provider, you need to review at least a few options and compare what they have to offer. It’s best if you can get some recommendations from your peers. If not, look for overwhelmingly positive reviews online.

What’s more, make sure that the provider is right for your specific needs. It’s best to look for those experienced in your industry. On top of that, think about your potential future needs. If you go for a startup with limited capacity, they might not be able to accommodate your needs once you scale up.

Ask Your Provider About Their Security Measures

No matter what precautions you take and how careful you are, your data security will mostly depend on the cloud provider’s security measures. So don’t be shy and ask potential providers a series of questions that will help you assess their level of security.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • How do you ensure physical data center safety?
  • How do you control access to your infrastructure?
  • How do you ward off security breaches, such as phishing and malware?
  • What are your procedures in case of suspected violations?
  • What is your disaster recovery plan?

These are only some ideas to steer you in the right direction. You can expand on each of them and inquire further.

Double Down on Encryption

There’s no doubt that your cloud provider will be using some type of encryption while storing your data. They’ll encrypt your data and hand you the key so that your organization is the only one who can access and decrypt it. You may ask your provider what kind of encryption they utilize.

However, it doesn’t hurt to add another layer of security by employing file-level encryption before sending your data to the cloud. This way, each individual file will be doubly protected, and you’ll reduce the chances of any breaches significantly.

For more sensitive data, you may even resort to the so-called “sharding” approach. Sharding means segmenting data and storing bits of it in different locations. This way, you make your information much more difficult to access without authorization.

Don’t Use Personal Devices for Accessing Data

One of the biggest benefits of storing data in the cloud is the fact that you can access it anytime and from any device. However, that’s also one of its greatest security challenges. If your employees use their personal devices to access your company network and data, they may unwittingly compromise them.

You can’t keep everyone’s personal security practices in check, which means your employees’ laptops, smartphones, and other devices could be compromised due to lack of care or knowledge.

To avoid such risks, only use designated company computers and your safe Wi-Fi network to access your data in the cloud.

Implement at least Two-Factor Authentication

Just as your cloud provider needs to control access to their systems and your data, so you need to make sure that only authorized persons can get to it. As we all know, passwords alone are not safe anymore. That’s why it’s essential to enforce multi-factor authentication or at least two-factor.

So in addition to their standard password (which anyone can learn in various ways and use to access your sensitive files), your employees will get a single-use security code sent to their device. They’ll have to enter it to access your files.

You can impose an even tighter control of access by adding another step in the authentication.

Provide Data Security Training

We’ve already shown you one way your employees can share confidential information with the world unintentionally — by accessing it from their personal devices. This is just one of many accidents that can make you regret not putting more effort into employee education.

So before you give anyone any access to sensitive information, make sure that your employees go through thorough data security training. They need to know what activities can compromise your data and in what way.

For example, something as simple as putting a file in the wrong folder or CC-ing the wrong people in an email can put your data at risk. This may seem obvious to you, but it might not be to everyone, and not acknowledging that could cost you a serious breach.

Beware of Inside Threats

With all of the above security measures in place, there won’t be many loopholes in your system. However, there’s one unpleasant but extremely real issue left — the possibility of an internal breach.

Data security doesn’t only involve technical measures — it also means monitoring your employees closely and knowing how to recognize a mole. The chances of happy and satisfied employees selling your sensitive info are minimal. That’s why you need to take care of your team if you want them to remain loyal.

However, the biggest potential threat are disgruntled employees who have just been laid off. If they’re angry with you, they might want to do some damage by taking advantage of their access to your confidential info.

To avoid this, make sure your former employees go through a complete exit process where you take away all their credentials before they have a chance to do anything malicious.