By Gui Alvarenga, Product Marketing Manager at Check Point. 

There’s no doubt that the world is moving to the cloud, and if your business is not there, you are late.  By moving to the cloud, you have a powerful and scalable infrastructure that can expand to meet your company needs. Storing data in the cloud and running your applications from the cloud has become the global standard in efficiency, cost savings, and an overall better customer experience. But how secure it is to have all your data in the cloud?

The answer depends on how much effort you put into securing your cloud environment. If you’re not meticulous about security and continuously monitoring your environment, your cloud is at major risk of a breach. Here are four common misconceptions that can lead to significant risks if not addressed:

1. You think your cloud provider has all security covered

Believing your cloud provider is fully responsible for keeping your cloud environment secure is a misconception. Digital security has always been a team effort between provider and client, and modern-day cloud environments are no exception.

Every major cloud provider (AWS, Azure, GCP, Alibaba) takes a shared responsibility approach to security. This posture is clearly stated in their security policies. Cloud providers take responsibility for security of the cloud, but you are responsible for securing what’s in the cloud, i.e., your data, applications, and workload.

If this is new information or you don’t remember reading this when you signed up for your cloud hosting account, your better take your share of responsibility for securing your cloud.

When your data is unsecured in the cloud, you are at risk of a data breach that could result in devastating and expensive consequences. Contact your cloud provider to find out how to better secure your assets, applications and data. Often, your cloud provider has a number of cloud-native services to secure their environment, but it’s your responsibility to use these services to make sure all your data and assets are properly secured.

2. You didn’t hire a specialized professional to set up your cloud security

Hackers will always go after servers that haven’t been set up correctly and seek out misconfigurations. If you aren’t a cloud security expert, you need to hire a professional to configure every aspect of your cloud environment. According to Gartner data published by The Wall Street Journal, up to 95 percent of cloud breaches occur due to human errors like misconfigurations.

Setting up and securing a server is a complicated process, and just like traditional data centers, securing your cloud is not simple, especially when you’re trying to make it work on your own. It’s important to have a dedicated professional or security team to set up and secure your cloud servers. Let’s say, even Amazon AWS had to create lengthy documentation and resources to operate and configure their S3 service.

If you simply use default settings for your cloud security, your cloud environment is at risk. Get your environment secured by an IT Security professional who specializes in the cloud, and leverage tooling with AI that can grow and model with your specific needs and the behavior of your cloud environment.

3. You don’t have an automated system to monitor security threats 24/7

If you’re not continuously monitoring security 24/7, your cloud environment and data are vulnerable to threats. The only way to eliminate threats quickly is by catching them before the attacker breaches multiple layers of security. Having a dedicated team to manually monitor every single threat is not scalable or cost-efficient, and many threats might be overlooked. Automation is the key to address monitoring by setting policies that automatically remediate most of your threats, or at least alert you to what is important to fix.

If you don’t have a security software installed to monitor your cloud environments, you’re at risk of data breaches that can seriously impact your businesses in so many ways. Without automated monitoring, threats can make their way in and seriously extract private information and cause damage before they get noticed.

The best way to monitor security threats is to have a monitoring service working for you 24/7. Automated security monitoring is essential for all businesses, but it’s critical for businesses that handle sensitive data such as payment data and patient private health information (PHI).

4. You overlook or don’t have proper security policies in place

Security features are only secure when you have comprehensive policies in place. That’s why you need an IT security policy that determines how, when, and where employees and contractors can log into your network. For instance, a secure policy may limit access of information to employees that really need that data to operate, or it may restrict personal devices to access the company network. These are basic security measures that without proper policies in place lead to data leakage and private information exposed.

It’s also important to enforce your policies with penalties. For instance, if sharing login details is not allowed and you find out that someone shared their login credentials with a co-worker, be sure to have written consequences, whether it’s a write-up or a suspension. Your employees need to know that there is no wiggle room for security violations.

It’s hard to manage and enforce security policies. The optimal way is to implement continuous compliance. Cloud environments require rigorous approach to security. Automation simplifies the process by testing compliance against industry standards like HIPAA and PCI DSS while facilitating and enforcing compliance.