Encryption best practices for better cloud security.
It is important for organizations to be aware of securing their assets on the cloud and not wait for the cloud service provider alone to take care of security.
In the digital era we are living in today, a sizeable amount of enterprise and consumer technology has shifted completely into the cloud. In fact, cloud computing is one of the biggest drivers and front-runners of enabling the booming digital economy. It empowers companies to create new services that can be used by millions of consumers within seconds. The interest surrounding cloud technology isn’t dying out anytime soon. In fact, Gartner predicts that the worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services alone will grow 21% to reach nearly $332.3 Billion in 2021.
Cloud computing managed to achieve its explosive rate of growth by convincing leaders across all industries that their data and applications are as secure on the cloud as they would be on their on-premises networks. In the initial days, security and privacy of data were the key obstacles in its growth path. But today, the challenges in security have been ruled out to a considerable extent. One of the key pillars of enforcing a secure experience in the cloud is encryption.
Over the years, encryption has become a gold standard for data protection and privacy assurance policies worldwide. Reports show that today nearly 90% of internet traffic is encrypted as more businesses and consumers demand a secure experience online. In the cloud scenario, encryption plays a pivotal role as well. However, not everyone gets their encryption strategies right, and despite being an essential element, there are still organizations that do not invest in setting up best practices for encryption on their cloud services.
So, what are those best practices for encryption on the cloud? Let us explore them in detail:
Include Encryption as a Strategic Business Objective
The first step in effective encryption on your cloud ecosystem is to consider encryption as a strategic security objective of your business and not as a desired feature from the cloud vendor you chose. This notion change itself can create an increased awareness and alertness from all your stakeholders like employees, partners, vendors, and customers to adhere to encryption compliance policies and protocols. This approach will also allow you to have a greater say on assuring a secure experience to your customers rather than depending on vendor communications for every customer concern.
Formulate Strategies for Encryption at different stages
The process of encryption is not a collection of principles that you can wholesomely apply on all data. There needs to be a clear-cut plan for encrypting data in its two major existent states:
Data at Rest: Focus on ensuring a secure data environment by creating access controls, encouraging use of meta data rather than raw data, and setting privileges by user roles along with encryption of credentials.
Data in Transit: Focus on securing data transit channels by enforcing strong encryption protocols like HTTPS, SSL and also leverage encryption tunnels to ensure that the data in transit through cloud networks are protected at all times.
Evaluate vendor offerings for suitability
The cloud vendor is responsible for the encryption security offered to your data while it is in transit in the cloud in different formats from across users and other business systems during business operations. Taking the priority classification list mentioned in the prior section, you need to validate the encryption capabilities of the cloud vendor with respect to the use case scenarios your data will be subjected to while on the cloud.
The vendor needs to provide end-to-end encryption, targeted encryption, and advanced levels of encryption depending on demand. While it is good to select a vendor having a highly secure custom encryption framework, it is advisable to not get locked into the vendor’s encryption policy alone.
Create a secure key management plan
Secure keys are the heart of any encryption mechanism. Enterprises need to deal with a multitude of secure keys that are created from their own encryption mechanisms, keys provided by the cloud vendor for encrypting data during transmission, and keys to be leveraged by vendors or users when they want to access allowed data at endpoints. There needs to be separate policies defined and enforced for customer provided keys as well as customer managed keys. It is important to use rotation of keys as well as practice expiring keys to enable a long-term strategic encryption for data. Regular audits of key management policies, enforcing strict compliance protocols for storing secure keys as well as their backups, etc. are some important key management activities that need to be prioritized as a best practice.
Cloud computing will continue to drive the next level of digital transformation and will be a dominant force in both consumer and enterprise digital ecosystems. As more data gets on the cloud, more and powerful encryption mechanisms will be devised to facilitate seamless growth of transactions on the cloud. It is important for organizations to be aware of securing their assets on the cloud and not wait for the cloud service provider alone to take care of security. On this note, following these best practices will bring in a key advantage for enterprises that aim to leverage the cloud to their advantage.