Data breach prevention and mitigation: protect your assets

You can protect your network infrastructure from a data breach

It’s no secret that Cloud Computing is a wildly popular technology used for its high scalability and elasticity of resources at an affordable cost.
Notwithstanding the benefits, however, many worry that deploying to the public cloud might increase the risk of a serious data breach, among other security and privacy concerns. In this post I will review the state-of-the-art access control mechanisms that can mitigate security threats in the cloud.
Here are some current best practices to significantly reduce the risk of a cloud-based data breach:

Identify data breach threats by correlating real-time alerts with global security intelligence

Data BreachAs the Internet increases in both size complexity, your organization needs expert help to continuously monitor the network and to identify and prevent all kinds of data breach threats.
By tapping the current research and analysis of the worldwide threat environment, the information can be correlated with knowledge of actual known threats.

Proactively protect information

You can minimize the seriousness of a data breach by implementing unified protection policies on your cloud’s virtual and physical systems. By implementing encryption, you can proactively protect the exposed data in case of a danger. Here are four proactive protective measures:

1. Intrusion detection (security information and event monitoring)

The first step in data breach prevention is to find out who it is that’s regularly banging on your door or sneaking around your  back yard. Active monitoring and blocking is the first layer defence for your firewall. Security Information and Event Monitoring (SIEM) provides the forensic analysis that verifies whether or not a particular network access attempt is friendly and legal, keeping you awake and alert to possible trouble.

2. Traffic monitoring (log management)

The moment you know who’s accessing the network, you can use log management to identify unreliable IP addresses, locations, and users. If you are capable of anticipating traffic, then you can even create the rules to block specific sources, prevent access and create a reportable audit trail of activity. To be proactive, the processing should be continuous and in real-time.

3. Provisioning (identity management)

By identifying the management provisioning, users only access the data which they are entitled to see. In too many documented cases, someone leaves his employer without giving up access to sensitive information. Effective provisioning controls users’ rights, while automatic de-provisioning keeps former employees and others away from certain sections of your data. When a connection is made to the SIEM and log management tool, a user may try to use a retired password or account, but their request will be denied.

4. Authentication and credentialing (access management)

This is another layer of protection (also known as multi-factored authentication – MFA), beyond password management, which can deflect a potential data breach by making sure that access is controlled by at least two credentials. Using MFA, authentication requires both a password and access to a preselected device. By doing this, you gain additional protection against the use of unauthorized credentials.

Automate security through IT compliance controls

Developing and implementing IT policies and data protection systems in your network can help you minimize the risk of data breach. This can be achieved by automating periodic checks on technical controls such as password settings, firewall configuration, and patch management.
Audits can be expensive, so in order to reduce the costs, make sure all the important data is confined within as narrowed a scope as possible to your audit can be more focused. Since you’re being selective, you’ll need to identify and carefully monitor the types of data that make up your cloud environment to ensure that all compliance obligations are covered through your audit.
Prevent data exfiltration
Concerns about data exfiltration (i.e., data theft) has become a crucial part of any data breach investigation. Whether the attack is executed via physical theft or digital transfer from a compromised internal machine, the result is same: data loss can cripple an organization.
If someone has hacked your cloud or there’s a rogue cloud project active within your enterprise, security event management solutions can help in preventing the outbound transmission phase of a targeted attack.
Integrate prevention and response strategies into security operations
Every organization should have a fully detailed data breach prevention and response strategy. Your security team can simultaneously use technology to protect and keep track of any affected data.
Discover internal rogue projects with audits
Sometimes an enterprise’s business unit might use an insecure public cloud for a project its IT department can’t accommodate using internal infrastructure. Such rogue projects, since they’re usually run without IT department oversight, often fail to follow the corporate IT security procedures. This, obviously, makes them more susceptible to a data breach.
It’s important to discover these operations through carefully and regularly analyze network telemetry data gathered through security information management applications. Indicators include unusual data transmissions pointing to remote management.
Organizations should also audit purchase orders for technical services, looking for suspicious expenses or invoices from cloud providers.
Authenticate identities
As users, applications, and devices leave the safety of local servers and move into the cloud, identity becomes a main concern for maintaining security, visibility, and control. In this distributed environment, it’s essential to properly authenticate the user’s identity, understand what the user is authorized to do, create or update an account, and audit their activities.
You should always verify in advance that individuals are who they say they are. Make sure that they have the right level of access privileges and restrictions in relation to your sensitive data.
One of the key elements for managing cloud security risks is virtual log management software, which provides greater visibility in your network activity. Virtual appliances monitor network events, looking for patterns of suspicious behavior and other factors that may indicate an attack. Collecting and monitoring the log data is an important part of compliance with many regulatory standards.
Protecting your system from a devastating data breach requires uninterrupted vigilance, but it is possible.

Written by

Sudhi Seshachala

Sudhi is part of Cloud Technology Partners & is a trusted advisor and strategic consultant to many C level executives and IT Directors. He brings 18+ years diverse experience covering software, IT operations, cloud technologies, and management. Have led several global teams in HP, Sun/Oracle, SeeBeyond and few startups to deliver scalable and highly available business/technology products and solutions. He has expertise in systems management, monitoring and integrated SaaS and on-premise applications addressing a wide range of business problems.

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