Develop a Cloud IR Plan to Reduce the Impacts of Data Breaches

If your business has an online presence, you’ve probably implemented a cloud-based platform. Although the cloud environment has a number of advantages for your organization, cloud breaches are a common problem that can damage your business’s cash flow and reputation. 

To mitigate this issue, use a cloud data security program to monitor and protect your cloud databases. Relying on your cloud service provider alone to address all of your security needs is not a workable solution. Instead, take initiative with your data security and create an incident response (IR) plan to minimize the damage in the event of a cloud data breach.

Cloud Data Breaches are a Common Problem

Because cloud environments are publicly accessible, securing them can be challenging. As a result, 45% of reported breaches have been in cloud environments. Many cloud service providers use a shared responsibility model for security, which means that the cloud provider is responsible for its servers and internal network security, but the companies that use the cloud are responsible for securing their own data and access points. 

While this makes it easier for the cloud providers to determine what security they are responsible for, it can make it more difficult for the consumers to monitor and manage security in the cloud. Some consumers are not aware that they are working under this model, which introduces additional security problems. It may also reduce the urgency with which security professionals implement patches if they assume that basic protections will come from the cloud provider.

Neither web application users nor employees tend to follow best security practices, which creates vulnerabilities at login and access points. 83% of surveyed businesses in the last year have reported at least one access-related security incident. Additionally, if data accessibility is not carefully controlled, attackers can use these weaknesses to infiltrate company data via valid login credentials. Without taking active steps to secure public-facing applications, companies may find themselves victims of ransomware, DDoS attacks, phishing attempts, or other malicious activities.

Cloud Data Breaches are a Major Risk

Although there are many things companies can do to reduce their risk of a breach, attackers are determined, and the numbers of potential exploits get larger every day. So, while it’s important to take preventative measures, companies should also create a cloud incident response process for use in the event of a breach. This can reduce the cost and impact of an incident, and it can improve the speed and efficacy of recovery efforts. 

For example, the Red Cross suffered an attack in 2021 that resulted in a compromise of over a half million people’s personal information. However, the Red Cross handled the breach in a way that prevented its reputation from significant damage, kept consumers in the loop, and improved security measures for the future. After promptly alerting consumers about the breach on its website, the Red Cross made an effort to personally contact as many of the affected consumers as it could. The organization explained that the breach had occurred due to laxity in patching and updating, and it continues to publish updates as it addresses the problem.

Although the Red Cross suffered a major security incident, it was able to recover quickly and retain its consumers due to its quick and appropriate response. Having an incident response plan can help your business address a breach in a way that is similarly organized. Keeping potentially affected customers informed can help you retain their business, protect your reputation, and empower your customers to secure their data or change their passwords before the attack creates problems for them. 

Fixing the problem that caused the breach is imperative for your company’s continued success and data security, but knowing exactly where your backups are and how to access them, prioritizing vulnerabilities, and monitoring system activity are also important. This reduces your downtime, which reduces the likelihood that you will lose customers and sales or interactions with your website. Less recovery time equals less lost profitability.

Designing a Cloud Data Security Program

An effective cloud data security program accounts for both breach prevention and recovery. The majority of cloud breaches are presumed to be the customer’s fault due to insufficient access protections and user error, among other weaknesses. This means it’s essential to improve security around your environment. Measures you might take include firewalls, improved employee training, prioritized and prompt patching, and automated monitoring. 

While it’s important to protect your cloud environment from attack, it’s also necessary to prepare for post-breach recovery due to the high numbers of potential exploits. There is a strong possibility that you will experience a security incident, even with improved prevention measures. So, including incident response planning is a critical part of your security program. Getting your company back on its feet quickly will minimize your downtime and get you and your customers back to normal quickly, minimizing a breach’s impact on your profitability and reputation.

Improving cloud security is essential, but it’s not the whole picture. Creating an incident response plan can help you keep your business running if you do suffer a breach. Because a cloud data security plan is your responsibility in the shared model that most cloud providers use, you should be sure to have all your bases covered. Even if a security plan doesn’t stop a breach, your incident response plan can reduce its impact. 

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