Cloud DLP: What It Is and Why It’s Needed

The 21st century has moved data storage practices from traditional modes such as the use of hard drives to incorporate cloud-based methods. Cloud data storage involves storing data in a secure manner on the internet through a cloud service provider (CSP). However, data loss can occur at any point of data handling, whether at rest or in transit. Therefore, cloud data loss prevention (DLP) is quite essential. It constitutes protecting and securing confidential and private data against unauthorized access, cyberattacks, and any leakage. 

In this post, we’ll take a look at why cloud DLP is essential, threats and risks associated with cloud data storage, and how to pick a good CSP.


What Is Cloud DLP About? 

Cloud data storage comes with the imperative to prevent data loss. Rapidly evolving technological advancements come with vulnerabilities that could potentially lead to data breaches. For example, the frequent sharing of data between clients and the CSP calls for close monitoring of APIs and other systems since they’re vulnerable to data exfiltration. 

That’s where cloud DLP comes in. This involves instituting controls to secure sensitive data before and when moving it to the cloud.


Threats and Risks Associated With Cloud Data Storage

A cloud DLP system ensures that an organization’s sensitive data is cleaned, secured, and protected before it is sent to the cloud for storage. Let’s take a look at some of the threats a cloud DLP system protects against.


Cyber Threats

Malicious attempts by cyber attackers to intercept the flow of data are one of the greatest causes of data loss for CSP clients. This is orchestrated by internet-accessible APIs. An API vulnerability—for example, a case of API sprawl—provides hackers with an easy point of access to your data. This has the potential to disrupt the flow of work and, in worse cases, lead to a complete exfiltration of the organization’s data. 

Internal Threat Intelligence

Unauthorized access to data by insiders is also another prominent cause of data loss. This can range from malicious abuse to common human error. Former organization employees, current employees, and any other authorized personnel are people who could carry out an insider data breach. Employing the principle of least privilege helps in keeping track of who is authorized to access what and when. 

Data Misconfiguration

Data misconfiguration in data handling exposes unencrypted data to the public, leading to a vulnerability. Myriad cases of exploitation stem from data misconfiguration, including failure to restrict inbound and outbound ports. 

This can be open inbound ports accessible to the internet or failing to closely monitor the range of open ports. Outbound ports are another probable cause of data misconfiguration where outbound traffic is open to all. Laxity in data configuration is also an exploitable case since new types of security breaches evolve rapidly, potentially leading to a case of under configuration in your systems.


Account Takeover (ATO)

User impersonation is another risk associated with cloud data storage. ATO easily takes place when cloud data protection measures are ignored. Easily vulnerable points can occur as a result of poor password management, use of single-factor authentication points and broken object-level authorization. Such risks provide attackers with unlimited access to data without the knowledge of data owners.


The Benefits of Cloud Data Loss Prevention

Understanding such risks is essential in combating data loss. Data protection is key in building trust with your clients or application users. Providing for and guaranteeing data protection is a trade currency that builds trust. Data loss has caused big organizations to go down, businesses to close, and even startups to fail to scale up due to data breaches that led to a loss of trust by the target market. 

Cloud DLP is key, as it builds on having a data recovery plan. In the unfortunate case of data loss, lags, or delays, a data recovery plan ensures that your workflow isn’t disrupted. Most importantly, early alerts mitigate a system hack. The fact that cloud storage relies on multiple cloud storage locations means that a failure on one server isn’t a case of complete doom. 

A cloud DLP system ensures that information can’t be manipulated to suit a hacker’s ill motives. Data manipulation—a more malicious type of exploitation than data deletion—has been gaining prominence in the world of cyberattacks. When data manipulation occurs, users accessing the data get incorrect information, thus compromising data integrity.


Best Practices, Methodologies, and Tools to Manage Data Stored in the Cloud

So, what can you do to protect your data in the cloud? Let’s look at some strategies and tools.


Cloud Data Encryption

For cloud DLP, data encryption is key, especially when data is in transit and at rest. This means changing your plain-text data into an unreadable format before moving it to the cloud. A commonly used format is the ciphertext that uses an encryption algorithm. CSP utilizes data encryption to protect data from breaches and as a regulatory mechanism to secure data.


A DevSecOps Team

This simply means adding the security discipline to DevOps. A DevSecOps team is essential in cloud DLP, as they are able to track, intercept, and analyze possible vulnerabilities when moving data between the organization and the CSP, as well as between the CSP and data users. The team members keep an eye out for exploitable data breach cases and solve them. This fosters a culture of security during data production and acquisition.


Logging and Monitoring Services

A cloud logging and monitoring service is essential in scanning through your data and providing real-time reports on the state and use of your data. This means that as a CSP client you have real-time access to who’s using your data and their authorization level, as well as instant knowledge of a potential data breach by authorized or unauthorized users.


Defense in Depth Strategy (DiD)

A defense in depth (DiD) strategy employs built-in security measures known as layered security at various steps of data handling in the cloud. The layers provide security in the case of a failure in one layer. Implementing a successful DiD mode involves analyzing a proof-rich method of security. This is because different organizations and applications have different needs in the CSP market.


Multi-Factor Authentication

Implementing a multi-factor authentication (MFA) scheme when accessing data stored in the cloud is imperative in locking out unauthorized personnel. It not only locks out a potential attack but also alerts the owner of an intended malicious attempt on their data. It combines methods such as strong passwords, biometric identification, and security tokens to verify a user. This secures your data at a deeper level since you’re able to change passwords and strengthen your weak points.


Tips for Picking a Good Service Provider

For top-notch cloud DLP, the last mile lies in picking the best CSP in the market. This is based on who they are and what they offer. 

A CSP should be in line with the industry’s compliance and certification standards. ISO/IEC 27001 is the world’s top standard for information security management systems. A CSP in line with ISO 27001 and other government compliance standards respective to your country’s cyber laws is best suited to protect your data. 

Cloud service-level agreements (SLAs) are also a must with a potential CSP.  A cloud SLA ensures that as a client you have the deliverables to expect from the CSP and what legal actions are available in case of a breach. Being legally based, cloud SLAs institute a trust level since no customer picks a service provider while anticipating a breach from them. 

Cost is also a key consideration to check against the CSP’s deliverables. This means avoiding high-priced costs that offer minimal services for your organization or ridiculously low costs that place your data at risk. Proper pricing should go hand in hand with expected service provision. This includes a proper customer service offering that quickly addresses concerns given the sensitivity of a potential vulnerability attack.


Cloud DLP: Conclusion

In our era of massive digital growth and digital transformation, cloud data storage is smart and necessary. This post has equipped you with knowledge on what cloud DLP is, why you need such a system, as well as tips for picking the best CSP for your data.


About Traceable

Traceable is the industry’s leading API security platform that identifies APIs, evaluates API risk posture, stops API attacks, and provides deep analytics for threat hunting and forensic research. With visual depictions of API paths at the core of its technology, its platform applies the power of distributed tracing and machine learning models for API security across the entire software development lifecycle. Book a demo today.