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How To Secure Your Cloud Data In A Collaborative Setup

How To Secure Your Cloud Data

The recent revelations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been extensively spying on its citizens and key organizations overseas has sent a number of corporations in a tizzy and have made them question the way they conduct their business. A recent survey conducted by Redmond Magazine revealed that close to 40.5% of respondents felt the need to pull back on cloud based initiatives to protect their enterprises from espionage. Could this be a fleeting reaction arising out of panic or will we actually be seeing a drop in cloud based initiatives?

SharePoint experts believe that enterprises may eventually come to terms with the changing business climate and hence a move towards cloud collaboration cannot be impacted. However, they predict a future where enterprises will establish a hybrid set-up that will ensure easy handling of data over the cloud while being able to retain the more secure information on their local server. With Microsoft SharePoint, establishing such a hybrid setup becomes easy and simple. Here are some pointers to take care while handling your data in a collaborative cloud setup.


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Upgrade To The Latest SharePoint

The latest version of the collaboration software, SharePoint 2013 is built on the Vertipaq engine and is integrated with the Powerpivot technology that enables enterprises to collaborate on datasets that are much larger than what was possible previously. If your enterprise requires big data to be handled on the cloud, the latest 2013 edition of SharePoint ensures that the best infrastructure to handle data on the cloud is available with you. Besides this, by upgrading to the new version, you get improved user security and authentication methods that prevent illegal user access to the system. This article on Sharegate should help you with the migration process.

Understand Your Business Requirements To Pick An Authentication Topology

When setting up a hybrid collaboration system, it is important to understand where your master data should reside – is it on the cloud, or on your own server. If your business is particular about confidentiality of data and also if most employees are centrally located to be able to directly access your on-premise server, then it is recommended to pick a hybrid one-way inbound topology. Using this setup, users on SharePoint Online will be able to query the SharePoint server but the reverse shall not be possible. This way, most of the data is secure within the local server which may be offered or denied to a remote user. For alternate business requirements, you may either pick a one-way outbound topology or a bidirectional topology setup.

Securing Your Collaboration Data

Once you have decided on your authentication topology, it is important to ensure that the data being shared is secured from external hacks. This may not be important if you have all your data residing in the cloud. However, if you have decided to keep your data secure on your local server and grant restricted access to external users, it is critical that you create and deploy a security channel certificate. This ensures that the data stays encrypted during transfers as well as is only accessible from devices that are recognized and trusted.

In addition to this, it is also important to configure your security settings to prevent anonymous interception of data. This may be simply done while configuring your primary web application by setting the ‘Allow Anonymous’ option to ‘No’.

Configuring The User Access Rights

One of the biggest challenges while managing the security of a large system like SharePoint is handling the amount of unstructured data. To keep all your data secure, it is important to map the users and groups in an enterprise to the data that they have access to. To do this, it is recommended that your business analyses the access rights to each and every site collection and review the permissions. This process needs to be conducted periodically to ensure no access right is made available to any old or dormant user.

Protecting SharePoint With Firewalls

Enterprises that have SharePoint to host websites handling secure data need to actively protect its access with the help of firewalls. Doing so protects the website from third party SQL injections and other attempts to steal data.

Security is an extremely important element of running your business on the cloud. While the steps above may not make you completely immune to data theft, it does go a long way in ensuring your business stays well protected in a cloud based data collaboration environment.

By Anand Srinivasan

Anand writes for ERPGuru, a company that specializes in implementing and supporting NetSuite Canada. He is in the process of launching his own SaaS-based tool for marketers shortly.

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