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The cloud is becoming the norm when it comes to data storage, but it’s not without its challenges. The right policies and procedures can go a long way toward safely storing data in the cloud.

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Image: Microsoft News

By 2025, the world will store 200 zettabytes of data — and half of that data will be stored in the cloud. A single zettabyte is equivalent to a trillion gigabytes. In other words, we can expect to store an astronomical amount of data in the cloud in just a few short years.

The growth of the cloud can be attributed to its many advantages. For example, cloud storage enables an organization to access critical data from anywhere, a welcome benefit during the remote work era. Cloud storage is also cost-efficient and easily scalable, making it the perfect solution for SMBs and international enterprises. However, lurking closely behind these benefits are numerous risks, one of which is the security of the cloud.

According to a study by security platform Ermetic, nearly 100% of companies surveyed experienced a cloud data breach in the 18 months prior to the survey. It’s an eye-opening statistic that should inspire us to dig deeper into the possible dangers threatening the cloud.

Security dangers threatening the cloud

Many potential security risks are associated with a move to the cloud. For starters, there’s the problem of access management. The cloud comes with layers upon layers of potential access, and if users have too much access, security vulnerabilities can result.

Another serious concern is the increase of cyberthreats when moving your data to a cloud environment. Cybercriminals might use tactics such as phishing to steal account credentials, or they could try to compromise cloud apps using malware. In 2021, cloud-delivered malware increased to an all-time high of 68% of all malware downloads. And of those downloads, 66.4% were delivered using cloud storage apps. The consequences of a cyberattack range from costly downtime to a loss of critical business reputation.

Improving security: Adopting clear cloud storage policies and procedures

Is there a solution to these security challenges? Fortunately, yes. Security can be enhanced through the use of protective measures such as end-to-end encryption, MFA, device management and solid password hygiene. Security can also be beefed up by adopting clear cloud storage policies and instructing cloud users on the proper usage procedures.

TechRepublic Premium has built four resources you can use to improve your policies and procedures while also creating awareness around cloud security within your organization.

Microsoft OneDrive is among the most popular cloud storage tools available. If your organization uses OneDrive, it’s best to have platform-specific policies in place for its use. These policies should cover the proper practices for accessing, connecting to or interacting with organizational data stored inside OneDrive.

This sample policy by TechRepublic Premium can help. It includes who’s covered under the policy and outlines what actions are strictly prohibited while using the platform.

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While Apple iCloud is a common choice for personal use, businesses also use the service. And just like OneDrive, the use of iCloud within your organization requires specific policies to ensure that the platform and your data are kept secure. This TechRepublic Premium policy defines best practices for using Apple iCloud services whenever accessing or interacting with organizational data, services and resources. It also covers essential restrictions, such as using the cloud for illegal activities and using personal iCloud accounts on organization-owned equipment.

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Perhaps your business doesn’t use OneDrive or iCloud but instead utilizes services like Dropbox or Google Drive. Regardless of the cloud storage tools you use, these accounts still require effective administration to ensure that they’re properly maintained and secure. One best practice is to regularly review and audit your organization’s cloud storage accounts — a chore made easier if you have a comprehensive list of the necessary steps. Our checklist includes all the tasks you should complete during a cloud storage audit.  By following the checklist, you will review active user accounts, application integrations, security controls, storage capacity, suspicious or unexpected files, storage account errors and more.

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A critical part of securing your cloud-based storage system is simply understanding the terminology. Cloud storage is complex, with a ton of moving parts. Whether you’re just starting your move to the cloud or want to refresh your knowledge, this quick glossary is for you. The glossary offers concise explanations of common cloud-specific terms, such as cold storage, fabric, multicloud, RAID and SCSI.

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