5 Tips To Ensure Your Cloud Databases Are Compliant, Secure And Private – Dataconomy

Data has never been more precious as a resource, making data security more crucial than ever before. Data protection regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA keep proliferating, and the threat of cyber-attacks is only increasing, with vectors that include state-sponsored cyber-warfare “soldiers” and Ransomware as a Service (RaaS).

Developers, data privacy officers, and IT security teams are under pressure to make sure that cloud databases are not only functional and efficient, but also comply with data privacy legislation and are well protected from malicious actors. The stakes are high when it comes to database compliance. Stakeholders need to guard against threats as varied as credential hijacking, brute force attacks, and insider and outsider threats.

Fortunately, the arsenal that you can draw on keeps growing more extensive and intelligent. It’s now possible to orchestrate and automate many security actions such as entitlement reviews, sensitive data alerts, and report sign-offs. Reports are richer, including additional information like contextual metadata, user entitlement summaries, and vulnerability management history, which delivers greater insight into potential threats.

Yet even the best tools in the world are ineffective without efficient strategies and robust security procedures. This blog post aims to provide practical tips and strategies for teams to ensure their cloud databases meet the highest standards of compliance, security, and privacy.

The most basic step is also the most important. You need to make sure that you are familiar with all the relevant data privacy and security regulations, including international regulations, local or national requirements, and those specifically for your industry such as HIPAA or PCI DSS.

Regular audits and thorough documentation are key. Keep clear and detailed records of all your compliance efforts, so that you’re prepared for regulatory reporting, and run frequent audits using internal and external (third-party) auditors. This is important both to identify vulnerabilities, and to prove that you took all reasonable steps to secure data, protecting your organization from penalties if a breach does occur.

It’s a good idea to adopt automated compliance tools to streamline reporting processes. These tools monitor the threat landscape, deliver immediate alerts about suspicious activities, and automate actions like report sign-offs and entitlement reviews. They also bring advanced visibility into the location of all your data, both within your system and geographically, which is a requirement for some data residency regulations.

Patches and updates are routine activities that aren’t always taken seriously, but they are vital for maintaining data security. All your systems and infrastructure need to be kept up to date with the latest security releases, to prevent vulnerabilities.

At the same time, you can’t rely on patches and updates to ensure a strong perimeter. You also need to constantly monitor your environment for weaknesses, anomalous behavior, or unauthorized access, and the threat landscape for new threats from unexpected sources.

Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS) can identify and respond to security and compliance issues around the clock in real time, without losing focus or getting tired.

Strong encryption and robust access controls are the locks that keep your databases safe. Make sure that all data is encrypted both in transit and at rest, carry out regular employee training so that everyone understands the importance, and implement robust role-based access controls (RBAC) together with multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Review your access privileges at least once a year, and ideally once a month, to make sure that employees who’ve moved to different positions or left the organization don’t still have access to databases. The principle of least privilege, which grants users the minimum level of access necessary to do their job, is best to reduce the risk of data exposure.

It’s best to apply a Segregation of Duties (SoD), which ensures that no single person can misuse the system. For example, an administrator who edits access permissions shouldn’t also have access themselves to sensitive databases. In complex cloud environments, you might need automated access control software that can review urgent requests for one-time access, and reconcile multiple accounts or personas into a single identity.

Protecting your data with security measures and surveillance tools is only part of your defenses. It’s also important to minimize the extent to which sensitive data is exposed within any database or environment, particularly in non-production environments where the “real” data isn’t necessary.

Data masking and data anonymization techniques replace PII and other private data with alternative datasets.

This way, your analysts, developers and IT teams can create workflows and build effective products, without needing to use sensitive data. It limits the risk of data leaks and minimizes access to private data.

At the same time as implementing strong controls and protections to prevent a security breach from ever taking place, it’s also critical to plan for that eventuality. The speed with which you detect and respond to an incident can be vital for limiting data exposure, and is a key part of many data protection regulations.

An incident response plan defines who should be alerted if an incident occurs, what actions should be taken to limit data exposure, and how to restore a secure system as quickly as possible.

Regular backups should be a given, but it’s astonishing how many organizations still don’t habitually do so. You need a disaster recovery plan to ensure data integrity in case of an incident, and to review it every year to check that it’s still relevant and sufficient for your organization.

Cloud databases are complex environments that can be hard to track and secure, making them potentially vulnerable to hackers and cybercriminals. IT teams need to deploy a combination of smart policies, advanced tools, and strict adherence to procedures in order to ensure that their databases remain secure, private, and compliant with all data privacy and information security regulations.