Running a virtual private network, or doing business through a third-party virtual network provider, opens up a wealth of opportunities for the typical business to increase productivity, and make work more convenient for employees who travel or telecommute. However, with this convenience comes a greater potential for security breach as well as data loss. Before you decide to work in the cloud, be sure to maximize cloud protection to keep your data safe.
 Access Restriction
 
  • The first step to keeping your sensitive data for the eyes of employees only is to restrict access to your virtual database. There are a number of ways you can do this, including:
  • Assigning login IDs and passwords to every employee, and changing them at least once a month. However, sometimes this is not enough, as hackers could steal this information.
  • Permitting only pre-authorized devices access to the network. You can allow desktop computers at the office, in addition to the private mobile devices of your employees. In the event of device loss or theft, your IT department may be able to remotely destroy sensitive data and/or block the device from accessing the network anymore.
  • Letting only certain employees and clients access to certain projects. Just because you have business on a virtual network doesn’t mean all people with access need to be able to see all data. If you want a client to be a non-editing member of a project, for example, you can assign those permissions. This lessens the amount of access hackers have the potential to reach if they breach security through a single account or device.
  • Allowing only updated devices to access the cloud. Even an authorized user may have picked up spyware or a virus unknowingly through something like a drive-bydownload. When a user tries to access the cloud, one form of endpoint security is to scan the user’s devices to make sure their anti-virus protection software and firewalls are the latest and meet the standards you set. If not, they may be able to access data on a limited basis in “quarantine” until you’re able to address the issue or you could keep them from accessing the cloud entirely.
Data Encryption

When an IT consultant sets up your virtual network, data encryption is an essential part of the process. As data is uploaded, downloaded and revised through the virtual network, the time when it’s in transit from one digital location to another is a potential opening for risks, such as theft. If the data is encrypted during this process, people who steal it won’t be able to read the file.

There’s a chance, too, that the servers storing your data are stored at a third party or even in another country. The third party may be trustworthy, but the further your data is from you, the less control you have over its physical security. Encryption gives you an extra layer of protection, not to mention more peace of mind.

Keep Up-to-Date

Virtual networks, whether privately installed or running through a third party, tend to come with anti-malware and hacking protections in place. However, like the typical anti-virus software, the need for protection is constantly evolving to keep up with hackers working to get through the protection that you have. It’s essential that your company keeps your anti-virus protection through the network on the cutting edge or that you can rely on your cloud provider to do so.

Backup Data

Running a business through a virtual network is itself a form of data backup, but it’s wise to consider more than one method of backup. In the rare event of a natural disaster or power outage affecting your database’s servers, or due to the possibility a hacker or virus manages to bypass your other security and infect your data, you could lose all of the important business data you have stored in the cloud.

While unlikely, it’s a wise business practice to prepare for the worst case scenario and spend time on extra backup now instead of a lot of time and money on data restoration in the future, which may not even prove possible. At least once a month, or even once a week, backup copies of data on the cloud onto a hard drive. Then, be sure to keep the hard drive under lock and key.

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Gary Lu is a network specialist and writer for online tech publications from Dallas, Texas. He has experienced a few situations in his line of work which have cemented his understanding of the importance of cloud security. In his work, Gary relies on Trend Micro software protection.