Migrating data to the cloud comes with many unique security considerations. The process itself can result in data loss or breaches. It also presents different opportunities for cybercriminals, so an organization may not be as protected as they assume. Understanding the risks of cloud migration is the best course of action.
Why Ensure Data Security During Cloud Migration?
Ensuring better data security can protect an organization from possible fines, legal repercussions, public backlash and the effects of malware. It requires extra safety measures because everything is much more vulnerable during the transfer.
Plus, taking extra precautions in the cloud migration process can help with cybersecurity issues in the long term. Over 68% of organizations affected by a cloud breach had their sensitive data exposed. To protect against breaches and loss, it’s necessary to know how to improve data security.
1. Train Employees
Although it’s easy to overlook workers’ roles in the process, they are critical for success. Human error is the cause behind 88% of cloud breaches, so training employees on proper cloud security protocol is crucial. Organizations can develop a training plan to teach them how to handle the process.
It’s also essential to inform employees of the new security protocols and risks. Even if they’re already well-versed in standard cybersecurity practices, cloud migration comes with unique security threats they might be unaware of.
2. Add Encryption
Even if an organization finds a reputable provider and takes the correct precautions, it’s still possible to be affected by a data breach. Over 80% of businesses experienced one or more cloud security incidents in 2022. Since there’s no guarantee for safety, encryption can help improve data security.
While most cloud platforms have encryption built-in, adding additional security measures is essential to maximize protection against malware and cybercriminals. It also helps because data is particularly exposed during the migration process due to the nature of online storage.
3. Research Your Cloud Provider
Before selecting a cloud provider, it’s best to research them thoroughly to ensure they can handle the migration and protect the data well. A proper selection process involves assessing their security and management capabilities. After all, an organization must know who it is entrusting its information to.
Even if a business has excellent security protocols, data protection largely relies on who it stores its data with. Cloud providers typically have security staff for threat monitoring and response. Still, the number of employees and training vary and aren’t a guarantee of data security.
4. Continuously Check the Data
Data validation is integral to the cloud migration process because it ensures the transfer of only relevant and necessary information. Businesses should continuously validate all information to confirm its integrity to prevent mistakes like duplicates or inaccuracies. Audits determine if data is intact after the migration, ensuring everything functions correctly. Some things may slip past the first time, but repeated checks can catch any errors.
5. Select the Right Type
The types of cloud environments businesses can migrate to are public, private, hybrid and multi-cloud. Each comes with its own benefits and drawbacks, so choosing the one that maximizes security is essential.
While the choice depends on the organization, some models are generally better than others for data security. For example, companies using a hybrid cloud had less expensive data breaches than those with a private or public type. A well-researched decision can ensure extra protection during cloud migration.
6. Migrate Slowly
A business can conduct a sort of test run to ensure better data security. To control the risks, a company can transfer only the unimportant items to begin. It can search for security issues and test how well this less-essential data transfers before it moves on to migrating more sensitive information.
This strategy allows for better data security because it lets an organization test the cloud’s security in a low-risk environment. Plus, it doesn’t risk its most valuable information at the beginning of the process. Slow cloud migration can also let employees adjust to the new security protocols and risks, which can translate to better long-term security.
7. Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication can contribute to better data security during cloud migration because it allows only authorized staff to interact with data. It requires them to validate their identity before continuing. Even those who need access for their jobs can perform with limitations.
8. Stay Compliant
The Federal Trade Commission states that the organization is responsible for data security, not the provider. As organizations store and manage large amounts of data, it’s ultimately the owner’s responsibility. While compliance is necessary for legal reasons, it also provides better data security. Consumer information protection laws exist because they’re seen as basic security measures.
9. Back Up Data
Despite being reasonably secure, the data transfer during cloud migration may result in data loss. While security typically involves protecting information from cybercriminals, it’s also essential to keep that information intact, which is where backups come in. In fact, having multiple backups is good practice even when not migrating to the cloud.
When backing up data, organizations should be sure to implement geo-redundancy, as well. Geo-redundancy, the practice of storing data on multiple servers in different geographic locations, helps preserve access to data in the event of physical damage in one location.
Before beginning the cloud migration process, organizations should make sure everything is backed up accurately so they don’t have to worry about losing anything.
10. Decommission and Sanitize
Transferring information purely for the sake of taking it just takes up room and budget. In addition, it’s better to categorize what is important and what isn’t to know what to prioritize. If a business finds it has excess not worth storing in the cloud, it must figure out what to do with it.
During cloud migration, getting rid of the information you’re not transferring may be necessary. Decommissioning and sanitizing unnecessary data involves deliberately destroying it. There may be potential compliance issues if it’s consumer information, so it’s in an organization’s best interest to wipe it even if it’s low priority.
Ensuring Data Security During Cloud Migration
Information safety is most organizations’ primary concern during cloud migration. They can implement additional security measures like encryption or two-factor authentication to ensure everything remains secure. The process can be complex and time-consuming, but better data security can protect against loss or breaches.
Zac Amos writes about AI, cybersecurity and other trending technology topics, and he works as the Features Editor at ReHack.