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As cloud-based applications grow increasingly popular, there are security concerns that arise. The cloud environment may seem unlimited in its scope, and it certainly provides a convenient way to access data anywhere. Yet this same accessibility can be a security concern for some. Sending your data out there to a cloud system that doesn’t seem to have any clear boundaries can be troubling, but fortunately today’s telco cloud providers are working on new way for operators to protect your data. In the meantime, here are a few ways to take advantage of cloud benefits while still staying safe.

Limit who can access your services

limit-file-accessOne of the first security challenges that arises when using cloud services is accessibility. Who is able to access your data, and how can this be scaled down? If you’re setting up a business system, you only want privileged users to be able to gain access. And it’s always a good idea to limit access to all employees until they have received adequate training, otherwise they may make mistakes like accessing sensitive data over a public Wi-Fi connection. Applying some form of scalability to your cloud services can help prevent security leaks, so hold on to access controls carefully.

One way to do this is to add steps to the sign-in process for employees depending on the type of connection they are using. For example, an administrator may have full access to company files during regular working hours when accessing the data from a company IP address. However, additional sign-in steps like two-factor authentication would be required if they were trying to log in to your cloud services from the corner coffee shop or an airport.

Compare telco cloud providers before you opt in

Another preliminary step to take is to compare all telco cloud providers before you enrol in any sort of service. Different providers may offer different levels of security, so you want to look at these carefully to find the cloud service that best applies to you and your data storage needs. This applies to basic storage with Google or a more complex telco cloud system from someone like Nokia Networks. Security services to look for include privacy controls, local encryption, firewall configurations, and excellent customer service should something go wrong. If in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask how the provider plans to keep data separate from other cloud subscribers – data segregation is essential for public cloud services.

Always have a backup

You can also prevent losing access to your data by signing up for a backup cloud service in addition to the primary one. Although telco cloud services are generally reliable, they aren’t absolutely 100% fool proof so it’s important to have a plan in case of emergencies. In short, back up your files. You may have a custom-built cloud storage service for your business, but it doesn’t hurt to also store your most important files in a separate location using programs like CrashPlan, Google Drive, or Dropbox.

Use encryption programs

Another action that you can take from the user end is to encrypt your data before you submit it to any cloud storage service. There’s no shortage of software, open source encryption programs, and free archivers that will do this on your behalf, although you may need to create separate passwords for each file. Look for 512-bit encryption for best results, as this is the type that financial providers and banks use.

Some examples of free encryption programs include VeraCrypt, AxCrypt, and GNU Privacy Guard. Creating unique passwords for each important file ensures that even your cloud provider can’t crack your data. However, for those who have high volumes of files that need encryption, you can compress them into zip files first and then apply your passwords there. 7-Zip is a free file archiver that does double duty when it comes to both compression and encryption, storing your files in a .zip archive with 256-bit AES encryption.

Perform regular security reviews

Finally, it’s always a good idea to perform regular assessments of your telco cloud systems. Find out what’s working and what could be a problem. Stay up to date with security breaches that pop up in the news, to find out what went wrong so that you can prevent it from happening to you. As you compare cloud computing vendors, ask about their compliance to regulatory certifications like Safe Harbor, SOX or SSAE 16/SAS70-II requirements. The vendor should be willing to show you the most recent compliance audits to verify commitment to security procedures.

With a bit of research and care, you can reap all the benefits of the growing cloud services while still keeping your sensitive data safe.

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