How do businesses ensure data security with a remote workforce?

07 Jul, 2021
Grace Cao
Grace Cao
Technical Product Marketing Manager
When it comes to Data protection, we used to talk about securing the perimeter with firewalls, VPNs, cybersecurity training for employees,  to prevent data leaks - remember those days?? Well, these days, things are a little different as we now have remote working to contend with. As a result, Zero Trust has crept in and tilted the formula for Data  security and securing network perimeters is no longer effective.

And, this isn’t temporary.  According to Gartner, remote working will remain the permanent way employees work even after the pandemic blows over. Naturally, one of the first things businesses have embraced to support the remote workforce  is cloud solutions. The cloud has now become the backbone for big and small businesses alike, and employees are increasingly reliant on cloud storage providers and cloud applications to get our work done. And it makes sense. The cloud is a scalable solution that improves collaboration and is fast and easy to deploy. Many consider the cloud a perfect solution for our imperfect needs. But, the million-dollar question is - is it secure?

Remember, someone else’s (cloud service providers) is ‘looking after’ your data

Cloud service providers are third party providers that users outsource their data needs to. They do everything from maintaining the infrastructure, to performing all updates and maintenance. With remote working, most - if not all - of your company’s Data is stored in these cloud servers. That means, someone else (outside of your company) has access to your Data and is responsible for keeping it safe. So, think again, how sure are you that someone else is always looking after your best interest? Is there really  such a thing as a completely safe cloud system?

Protect ALL Data not some

We hear about data breaches in the news all the time. According to reports, ‘In the past year, 76% of IT security leaders said their organization has experienced one or more data breaches involving the loss or theft of sensitive information contained in documents or files’. 

The irony is, we have more Data security solutions on the market than ever, but a whopping 76% are still experiencing Data loss. The problem you see is when it comes to existing data security solutions, most require companies to choose which data to protect. Which begs the question - how should we classify what data is ‘sensitive’ and needs to be treated differently from the rest? Our stance is, ALL Data can be sensitive if it gets into the wrong hands.

Rather than setting up a standard operating procedure to classify and handle data, we believe in protecting all data at the file-level with PKI-based encryption. That way, if any Data is leaked it wouldn’t be intelligible if it were to fall into the wrong hands. If a breach occurs, only those who have the right encryption keys would be able to decrypt and make use of the Data.

If you’re thinking - hey, doesn’t that mean 100% Data protection - then you’re right. 100% file-level encryption is possible and should be the  first step in building, or rebuilding, your Data security strategies. Encryption done at the file-level allows for transparent encryption of any Data file, in any storage system and ensures protection is applied to every file, every place and every time. This  prevents anyone sniffing the network or any third-party cloud operators from making sense of your Data.

Why is file-level encryption so important for Data stored in the cloud?

By encrypting your files  at the file-level it means that your Data gets automatically and transparently encrypted from the instance it is first created. This not only eliminates any need for user intervention but it  doesn’t require any extra human effort to protect data. There is no need for users to classify ‘sensitive’ information, nor is there a need for anyone to consciously remember to encrypt Data that the system is processing while they work.

It also means you can protect your files  regardless of where they reside, or where it gets copied or moved. No matter where the file goes, it remains safe. All data will not be intelligible to anyone managing, moving, copying, backing up or inspecting it. This means it doesn’t matter who is looking at your data or where you are storing it - the protection is continuously and persistently applied on the file throughout its entire lifetime.

Implementing 100% file-level encryption creates a strong foundation and safety net for any company’s data security plan. And as I said before, the  best part is, it doesn’t rely on any conscious effort from employees. File-level Data protection  eliminates any gaps arising from human error or lack of effort and it works across both cloud storage and cloud application providers.

Protecting your cloud storage 

Data leaks from cloud storage solutions often stem from either an insider attack by the cloud operator or from a network traffic sniffer. Therefore, encrypting your Data at the file-level,before it leaves your computer, will ensure it remains protected as it travels through the internet to the cloud server and back to your computer when you next need it. This proactive, pervasive and persistent approach will mitigate the vulnerabilities of cloud storage as any attempts by the network traffic sniffers, and the cloud operator to steal your information will only expose encrypted data files that cannot be deciphered without the right encryption key.

Protecting your cloud applications

These days, we are using more cloud applications for our business needs than ever before. Securely protecting Data that resides on the Virtual Machine (VM) server with file-level encryption works the same way. It ensures the data remains protected – every file, every place, every time - as it travels between the VM server and the cloud storage. Since data remains encrypted in the cloud computing environment, insiders from the cloud operator will not be able to see your confidential data even when they are managing, moving, copying, backing up or inspecting it.

Encrypting Data is your first line of defence 

When we say protecting data we mean every file, every place and every time. We believe, and in many ways it’s been proven, that this is the only way to have a fail proof data security plan.  Encrypted data should be the first line of defence.  Yes, you may have an anti-virus software installed or  other detection software, and that’s important, but they’re still reactive and we all know attacks happen all the time from malware to Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) - even insider theft. With file-level encryption, it doesn’t actually matter if  data leaks occur because the only data that will be seen by your attacker is unintelligible.

As businesses race to digitally upgrade, file-level encryption can give companies much-needed peace of mind. While we can’t run away from our reliance on the cloud environment, the SecureAge Security Suite allows companies to take advantage of the affordability and scalability of cloud infrastructures, but without compromising on Data security and Data privacy, win-win-win.

To find out more about the SecureAge Security suite visit https://www.secureage.com/products/enterprise-security-software or contact us for a demo.

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