Cybersecurity is no joke. Especially when it comes to the countless gigabytes of sensitive data regarding your company and its business operations. Individuals may be protected enough by the standard, subscription-based software and services, but when it comes to the data safety of organizations and businesses, things can get a little more complicated.

It’s one thing to store everything on your own servers, with a dedicated, on-site IT team overseeing everything to make sure that all of the security and privacy measures are in place. That is not the case with most companies, though. The majority of small to middle businesses in the world use third-party cloud services to keep up with their growing data storage needs, which can lead to security risks further down the line.

How to Audit Your Cloud's Security

Tech wizards from suggest that the majority of security and compliance shortcomings can be prevented by regular auditing of your business’s cloud infrastructure and reviewing the work of the provider you’re working with. These audits need to be carried out thoroughly, in compliance with all of the cloud security standards.

If you’re thinking of carrying out an audit of your cloud service provider and the general information security within your organization, this article will help you understand what your auditors should be on the lookout for.

First Things First: Access Controls

Your very first line of defense when it comes to cloud security and company-wide risk management practices is your IT system access control at every level of your company. It may seem obvious to you if you’re one of the more tech-savvy entrepreneurs, but the truth is that many business owners disregard access control basics. This can lead to some serious trouble in the future.

The security audit of your company should begin by making sure whether all employees are using multi-factor authentication or not. If that option isn’t available to them at all, implementing it is the first thing you should include in your “to-do” list.

Another aspect of access control that is often omitted by many firms is limiting the ability to open and edit company files by just anyone employed at the company. Interns or people new to the company should not have the same ability as senior-level executives when it comes to manipulating crucial data. Segregating and restricting access to certain parts of your cloud environment and on-site files are one of the most basic security controls that can be implemented to limit the risks associated with access violations. If someone who’s lower down the corporate ladder finds themselves in need of accessing restricted files, all they have to do is send a request to their superiors.

Double-Check the Encryption Measures

Most cloud environments are set up in compliance with the most recent encryption standards, however, you can never be too secure when it comes to protecting your business’s crucial information. Your security audit should place special emphasis on ensuring the correct implementation of the end-to-end encryption in every instance of files traveling between your company computers and the cloud provider.

Cloud computing can make your life a lot easier, but there are quite a few security challenges that come with it. It’s extremely convenient to store sizable chunks of information in the cloud, but this entails files constantly traveling back and forth between your offices and the server farm of your cloud provider. This is precisely when they are at risk of being intercepted by malicious actors — encrypting your data will make sure that even if it does get into the wrong hands, no one will be able to make any sense out of it.

If, as a result of your audits, it turns out that these files are not encrypted, you will either need to change your cloud computing provider or implement your own encryption measures.

The Importance of Communication

Aside from making sure that everything on your end is safe and sound, the auditors will also need to have the option to freely communicate with your cloud computing provider, as they may be the culprit behind some of your security shortcomings. If that turns out to be the case, the audit will need to extend to assessing the cloud environment and providing your providers with the right advice regarding their infrastructure.

Are You Prepared for the Worst?

Internal audits don’t only assess how safe your system is in terms of cloud security — they should also check whether your company’s technology department has a contingency plan in case your organization or its cloud services provider gets hacked. Even the best security measures might not be enough to repel an attack of a particularly skilled hacker or an organized group of cybercriminals. This is why having a good disaster recovery plan to get your business back up and running when your information gets compromised.

The best way to make sure you’re ready for anything is to run your contingency plans and scenarios against the risk assessment you’ve done prior to the audits and make sure that they cover all of the major security threats, both in the area of cloud computing and on-site IT systems.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve never done one before, carrying out a cloud security audit should be a priority for you and your organization. Whether you’re the owner or the manager of a branch of a larger conglomerate, it is your responsibility to ensure the privacy of your workers’ personal information, as well as the security of your company’s sensitive data.

New technology creates additional opportunities, but it carries novel threats along with it, as well. This is why auditing is crucial to keep malicious hackers at bay. Once you ensure the security of your data and your compliance with the latest regulations and standards, cloud computing will only make your life easier.

About the author:

Maciej Grzymkowski is an avid traveler with a particular affinity for Southeast Asia, mostly due to the sheer amount of technological innovation that comes out of there. I firmly believe in the power of open-source software and giving developers the recognition they deserve.

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