10 Best Practices for Data Encryption

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Online data privacy is a prominent topic in the digital space. The increased transfer of data from analog to digital puts our data at risk. The world has, in recent years, experienced many cases of data breaches. One of the major data breaches is Equifax, which impacted millions.

Cases of data breaches don’t just only lead to the loss of crucial user information. It also leads to monetary losses. For instance, Equifax paid about $700 million to consumers as settlements. With such facts, it makes a lot of sense to take the available measures to ensure data security.

Cloud encryption is among the common and best ways to protect data. It involves encoding data before transferring it to the cloud service. In cloud encryption, texts, images, or files are transformed into an unreadable form, popularly known as ciphertext. This ensures that no unauthorized persons can access your data.

Even so, many security professionals are skeptical to use cloud-based services. To get the most out of your cloud encryption service, some best practices need to be followed, including:

1. Encrypt Data in Transit

Encryption of data in transit is paramount. In-transit encryption helps protect your data when transporting it from your computer to the server. The server and your computer exchange the encryption keys to ensure that your data is safe during the uploading process.

2. Encryption at Rest

As when transmitting your data, it’s imperative to enable encryption for your sensitive data at rest. Combined with in-transit encryption, at-rest encryption will significantly boost data security for most companies.

However, this may not be enough if you’re dealing with highly sensitive data. Most often, storage providers use AES encryption for at-rest encryption. This may be a concern for users who don’t want third-party providers to access your data.

Allowing others to encrypt your data means that they can decrypt them as well. In other cases, they may be forced to give your data to government agencies if a request is made. Ensure to read their user agreement policies before committing to them.

Always choose a storage provider that allows you to encrypt your sensitive data or upload encrypted data on their files.

3. Conduct Regular Vulnerability Tests

Investing in vulnerability testing and response tools is paramount. For instance, consider having automated security assessments to help detect system weaknesses. You can also shorten the duration between security audits.

Depending on your devices and the network that you’re using, you can opt to have yearly, quarterly, mothy, or even daily vulnerability assessment tests.

4. Have Control Access Policies

Without enacting control access policies, anyone can access your cloud data. By managing access control, you’re able to identify and manage those who are trying you access your cloud. It also allows you to give individual rights to each user – you can limit the rights of low-level users in your cloud environment.

5. Train Your Staff on the Best Cloud Practices

You can do everything to prevent threats from outside, but if your employees are not trained on cloud security practices, you’re still at risk. Untrained employees can pose the greatest threat to your cloud security.

Staff can misuse your cloud environment due to negligence or a lack of knowledge. This can put your system at risk of attack from harmful individuals.

As with anything new in your company, ensure to train your employees on your cloud security practices. The idea is to ensure that your company is protected from external and internal and threats.

6. Develop Data Deletion Policies

Whether you’ll move to a new provider or get back to an on-premise data security setup, it’s imperative to ensure that you can delete the data on your current cloud environment.

Also, you may need to delete data belonging to clients that you never work with. Having better cloud data deletion policies will help remove this data safely while avoiding compliance issues.

7. Compliance Certifications is Key

There are two major certifications that users need to think about: The PCI DSS and SOC 2 Type II.

Detailed certification should be done to achieve PCI DSS certification. This will ensure that your sensitive data is processed, stored, and transmitted securely. Being a multifaceted security system, PCI DSS involves policies, procedures, and security requirements that enhance the security of your data.

On the other hand, SOC 2 Type II helps in internal risk management processes, vendor programs, and regulatory compliance management. A cloud service with SOC 2 Type II compliance adheres to the high data security standards.

8. Consider Physical Database Security

Besides the digital aspects of protecting your data, you need to take measures to protect your database security physically. This can mean placing your database server in a protected environment where no unauthorized persons can access it. It can also mean placing the database separately away from the web servers.

As expected, a web server is more prone to attacks, meaning it can put the database at risk if running on the same machine.

9. Avoid Storing Valuable Data on Your Database

Any data that should not be in the database has no business being there. Hackers can quickly get access to the data stored in the database, and the best way to prevent that is to avoid storing any sensitive data there.

Make a habit of deleting any data that you don’t need in the database. You can move compliance data offline, or any other secure storage, safe from database security threats.

10. Guard Your Keys

No matter what measures to protect your sensitive data, it will make no sense if you have a key management system. To achieve this, you must understand the keys and certificates used in your organization and who can access them.

This will help you detect any abnormal behavior that could put your data at risk. Some of the vital key management aspects include heterogeneous key management and encryption key lifecycle management.

The above are some of the best data security practices that many reputable cloud service providers follow. Following them will ensure that your sensitive data remains safe and secure.

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