A Guide to Creating (or Updating) Your Cloud Security Policy

April 10th, 2023

An important trait of effective leaders in the business world is the ability to anticipate vulnerabilities and mitigate them before something happens. In fact, we bet that’s what brought you here today: you know sensitive data has never been more at risk from cybercriminals, and you’re looking to stay ahead in the game. This can be a thankless task, since preventing disaster tends to be an invisible action compared to highly visible disaster response. However, most people would prefer to prevent a catastrophe rather than deal with the cleanup! 

It is rare to find a business that doesn’t use the cloud in one capacity or another these days, but how can you ensure that your cloud data is adequately protected? 

A robust cloud security policy can help you think through your data vulnerabilities and address potential data leaks. Enlisting the help of an advanced cloud security expert like Virtual Systems will give you confidence that you’re asking the right questions and taking appropriate actions. 

Why Should You Create a Cloud Security Policy? 

Don’t most cloud services have their own security controls? If so, why should individual businesses create cloud security policies for services that are already secure? 

Even though major cloud providers like AWS and Microsoft Azure have put a lot of time, money, and effort into cloud security.  The data security for these services is considered a “shared responsibility” with the end user.  For instance, there’s a human element of vulnerability that they cannot control, like disgruntled employees or coworkers who leave passwords lying around. So, a certain degree of responsibility remains in the hands of businesses that use their services. 

By implementing and updating your own cloud security policy, you can address your business’s role in the shared responsibility model. This policy should consider the broad picture, covering matters like what data is stored in the cloud, who has access to it, and what happens in the event of a data breach. 

RELATED: Your Essential Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist 

The 8 Essential Steps to Creating a Cloud Security Policy 

How do you create a cloud security policy that is meaningful, useful, and comprehensive? One of the key actions is to make sure the right people are involved from the start, and that the team seeks feedback from the stakeholders at inflection points in the process. The team can then work through the following steps to ensure your security controls meet your requirements for protecting cloud computing: 

  1. Review your compliance requirements. Nearly every business has regulatory compliance requirements, such as HIPAA, SOC2, PCI, NIST, and more. These will affect your cloud security policy by driving minimum security controls for your cloud environments. 
  2. Review the security controls of your cloud service provider. Your cloud security policy should work in tandem with the security controls of your cloud provider.  
  3. Assign roles and access. Access management is a critical consideration for any security policy. Providing minimum access to personnel, a zero-trust model, is the industry standard for preventing unauthorized access, changes, or deletions to secure data. 
  4. Determine data protection protocols. Consider how your data is protected throughout the cloud operations. Does end-to-end encryption make sense for your data and your business? 
  5. Set rules for endpoint protection. Endpoints are a major vulnerability point in cloud infrastructure, so defending these connections from hostile entities is good hygiene for your cloud security posture. 
  6. Outline incident response procedures. While prevention is key, having a clear response procedure for security incidents will reduce the stress and breadth of a cloud security data breach. Outlining roles, reporting processes, and other backup and disaster recovery activities will prioritize business continuity in the event of a security incident. 
  7. Include security audits. Regular reviews of your cloud security controls, including security audits of your cloud provider, are the best way to ensure you stay ahead of the latest threats.  
  8. Develop training modules for employees. Typically, almost every employee will use your cloud solutions at some point. Training personnel on cloud security policies and practices is an important part of preventing an accidental security incident. 

Your team might find it useful to utilize a cloud security policy template, but it won’t benefit you to take shortcuts or completely outsource your cloud security policy.  

To truly protect sensitive data, you need to put in the effort and build a policy based on your specific cloud environment and how you use it. Remember, data has become the biggest asset for most companies – that makes it worth protecting! 

RELATED: Ensuring Cloud Security and Compliance for Your Business 

Cloud Security Policy: Additional Considerations 

The most useful cloud security policy is simple, straightforward, and easily incorporated into employee workflow. This is not always easy to achieve with the complexities of today’s technology landscape.  

Part of the challenge is that cloud services can fall outside of the on-site IT umbrella, which can lead to vulnerabilities with customer data. In our industry, we commonly refer to this as “shadow IT.” For instance, sales might find a useful app for managing customer contact information, but they may not consider having the app thoroughly vetted by the security team before purchasing a subscription. 

Use of cloud security monitoring tools can be a great way to improve your security capabilities. Real-time threat detection and response has become the gold standard for cloud service providers who prioritize security and compliance. When it comes to protecting your cloud assets, why would you settle for less than the best? 

A robust cloud security policy serves as a key part of the foundation for business continuity management. Data breaches and downtime can decimate a company’s reputation, which is why the acceptable amount of downtime is quickly approaching zero. Having the right systems in place – including a comprehensive cloud security policy – ensures that your organization will stay secure and online in the face of almost any disaster. 

As part of your business continuity management planning, you should also consider if your organization would benefit from a cost-effective solution for offsite backups, like Veeam Cloud Connect. The goal with this is to keep things simple, while providing state-of-the-art encryption and protection for your critical data. This can be a great asset to your cloud security policy’s protocol for cloud backups and data restoration. 

RELATED: Take a Big-Picture Perspective When Planning for Business Continuity 

Still Have Questions? Consult the Experts in Cloud Security! 

While not all cloud providers put security first, we’re here to pick up their slack. As your cloud-first IT partner, making sure your data’s secure is our top priority. We are happy to walk you through the measures we’ve put in place for our advanced cloud security. Better yet, we ditch any confusing technical jargon and explain it to you in a way that’s easy to understand. 

If you have questions about how to create your cloud security policy, or how your security strategy should work in tandem with that of your cloud provider, let us know. Our team is happy to help you build a robust set of security guidelines to protect your data at all times. Just send us a note via our online contact form and one of our experts will make sure you find what you’re looking for.  

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