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Cyber attacks forcing increased security

In August 2019, an unsecured database belonging to Choice Hotels provided too big a temptation to resist for hackers. Some 700,000 records were stolen, with hackers demanding ‘ransom money’ for their return. The Choice Hotel Group – which has properties in the U.S., Canada, and worldwide – was able to avoid a wipe of this vital data. However, the breach has affected the way businesses view cloud computing security, with a new report – the 2019 Thales Access Management Index – showing that businesses are ready to take data safety more seriously.

Key Findings

The report indicates that the explosion of cloud entities has led decision-makers to make security as much of a priority as speed. Some 94 percent of organisations consider that breaches have shaped their security policies over the past year. It makes sense that cloud backup services and access management should be the buzzwords in the IT departments of American and Canadian companies. After all, some 49 percent of those surveyed believe that cloud applications are the biggest targets for hackers. Currently, companies can opt for one of three access management tools to prevent breaches.

Two-Factor Authentication Still Rules

The vast majority of businesses use two-factor authentication for cloud data protection. The latter involves using a password that users know, plus something they have (this might be a smartphone) to provide an extra passcode that can be used ‘in the moment’. Other options for access management include the Smart Single Sign-On (which offers unique policies for different businesses and employees), and Biometric Authentication (which relies on the unique biological characteristics of the user). Some 70 percent of people surveyed still believe that two-factor authentication is the most user-friendly and practical option.

A Step in the Right Direction

Over half of company IT professionals are making staff training and access management a greater priority. Businesses need to continually assess high-risk factor and take steps to protect sensitive assets, while removing barriers to productivity. The key is to strike the perfect balance between safety and user-friendliness, with authentication methods depending on the level of risk. Continuous vulnerability assessment is also vital, since the nature and scope of threats can vary on a daily basis.

The Government of Canada itself is leading the way with respect to protection of cloud data, having created its own model to mitigate the risks associated with using cloud services. From identifying and managing risks right through to backing up cloud-stored information and honing access management methods, businesses can significantly reduce their risks. If the Choice Hotels breach has shown one thing, it is that the reputation and integrity of companies can be seriously compromised every time that their clients’ sensitive data is accessed by hackers.

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