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The Equifax data breach of 143 million US consumers is a clear example that cybersecurity threats are real, and that the stakes for businesses have never been higher. When risks don’t get addressed immediately, this makes it even more likely to become another Equifax breach, or think of the SolarWinds incident.  All cyber-attacks are damaging to people and the business that gets hit. 

Studies have found that a majority of companies have suffered a security incident due to ignoring misconfigurations or known vulnerabilities in cloud native applications. Also worth noting, developers aren’t taking into consideration cloud security concerns when building the applications, so that doesn’t help either. 

To add to these security concerns, another recent study (by Ponemon Institute) found that organizations are exposing their networks to non-compliance and security risks by not taking action to reduce third-party access risk.  

It is clear that in addition to protecting their cloud infrastructure from attack, businesses must also take steps to protect themselves against third-party risks. 

In this article we will discuss how you can improve your cloud security by taking into consideration these three key areas:  

Security awareness and training; Third-party access control policies; and the need for proactive cyber defense. 

Security awareness training 

When it comes to security awareness and training, the first thing to do is to make sure your employees are aware of the risks associated with cloud computing. You can create a security awareness and training course or use an external provider. Either way you need to ensure all staff members who work in this environment have completed it. 

Furthermore, you want them to be aware of what to look out for as a potential risk, with cloud applications and software updates, as well as with the cloud providers themselves. 

Remembering that misconfigurations of software is important to keep them updated on and that they need to know how to apply patches, as well as call IT support if something goes wrong. 

With a remote workforce this has become more of a challenge because no one is on the premises to help them as soon as needed, so they may continue to ignore the problem. 

Security awareness and training allows employees to understand the dangers of doing this and what they want to do instead. 

This will help them avoid falling into the same trap that so many others have and continue to fall for. 

In order to make sure your business is compliant; you need to ensure a basic cyber-hygiene program with everyone that works with you. 

It isn’t only about compliance though, it is about protecting your team, your clients, and your business. 

Third-party access control policies 

For third-party access control, you need to make sure your company has a thirdparty risk management policy in place that answers common questions such as: who can request an account from your provider? Who manages this provisioning process and what is their security clearance level? 

Third-part access control policies can be a part of your company’s overall security policies, procedures, and controls, but not all companies have policies and procedures, nor do they necessarily use them or review them to update them with changes.  You know where your company stands, and it is always important, for security and compliance, that you ensure your policies and procedures stay up to date and put into practice.   

Aside all of this, for your third-part access control policies, either add a place to your existing policies, procedures and controls document or start setting one up now. 

You want your policy to outline the procedures for governing third-party access to company owned network and applications, and now that you also have a remote workforce, the network and applications outside the office. 

This is because the network is how any cyber threat gets in, so now your remote workforce’s home network is a vulnerability and the carriers do not ensure 100% security.  But even if they did, an attacker can still get in. 

This is why you want to make sure to be as exhaustive as possible with this area and keep it up to date as often as you change third-party providers or add new ones. 

You want to define security policies that apply to temporaries, contractors, consultants, and other third-parties, when they connect to any of your network or apps for business purposes.  

The policy covers physical and administrative requirements and third-party access will be given in accordance with your company’s needs. 

Proactive cyber defense 

Getting in front of any potential cyber threat is very important and the best way to do this is through training simulations for phishing threats, patching software and all technology as patches come about, as well as keeping up to date on what the latest vulnerabilities are in the cybersecurity news industry, but also for all of the appliances you have. 

For the training simulations, they are offered by companies such as NCX Group, but you can also choose to practice one on your own if you create the ideal scenario.   

Make sure you have an expert in cybersecurity though to consult with because they will know exactly how hacker thinks and what are all of the vulnerable areas of your network, in the office and remote home offices. 

 

If you need further support with any of these areas, schedule your free consultation today! 

 

Photo courtesy of wavebreakmedia