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As cloud adoption continues to accelerate across the Federal government, and new technologies and applications enable ever more seamless collaboration, more sophisticated and advanced security threats have risen as well. Hackers, malware, ransomware – these threats show no signs of abating. The risks to the mission are clear: data breaches and loss, compliance violations, and unplanned downtime. Given the importance of business continuity, how do the U.S. government and its supporting contractors mitigate compounding threats?

A robust and comprehensive cloud security plan is essential in the challenge to stay ahead of mounting cyber threats. But not every organization has defined the tools and procedures for diminishing their cybersecurity and regulatory compliance risks. The most well prepared organizations follow these nine best practices to safeguard their operations and cloud environments.

  1. Define cloud usage policies and access control measures.
    Prevent unauthorized access to cloud data by implementing multi-factor authentication, role-specific access, and other access control measures.
     
  2. Make security compliance an integral part of organizational culture.
    Educate and train your entire team to identify, report, and quickly act on security risks, with everyone understanding their role in preventing vulnerabilities and attacks.
     
  3. Secure the user endpoints and encrypt data in motion and at rest.
    With increasing amounts of data stored in the cloud and accessed from an array of locations and devices, encryption and key management are crucial components of cloud security.
     
  4. Deploy enterprise-wide intrusion detection and prevention technology.
    Monitor cloud environments and corporate networks around-the-clock (and set up real-time alerts) for telltale signs of irregularities, suspicious behavior, and breaches.
     
  5. Routinely test your cloud environment for security weaknesses and threats.
    Regular audits, along with penetration tests and vulnerability scanning, will help inform management of unguarded points of entry or compromise.
     
  6. Enable and scrutinize security logs.
    Which users are accessing, uploading/downloading, reconfiguring, or otherwise changing your data in the cloud? With effective logging enabled, you can track and remediate, as needed.
     
  7. Diligently review and update the organization’s cloud security policies and procedures.
    No cloud security compliance plan is ever complete. As new threats, systems, team members, and infrastructure come online, your security policies will need to evolve to stay relevant.
     
  8. Know how to safely and securely end the data lifecycle.
    If you change cloud providers or migrate your data to a new environment, you’ll need to ensure the safe removal and deletion of data from any legacy system.
     
  9. Partner with a cloud security compliance provider you can trust.
    Assess the cloud security capabilities, expertise, and track record of success before engaging with a cloud service provider, then clearly delineate any shared responsibilities or SLAs.
     

Maintaining cloud security compliance relies on having the right tools and procedures in place to detect, isolate, and respond to ever-changing threats and risks. Take the struggle out of security compliance, preparing your system for A&A, and achieving an Authority to Operate (ATO) by allowing a High Impact certified cloud service provider to guide you through the process. GovDataHosting is here to manage all required compliance activities. Contact us to find out how our team can handle accreditation particulars – so you can focus on the mission at hand.

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