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Power checklist: Managing and troubleshooting cloud storage

Originally Published:
Oct 2015

Cloud storage services offer a mixed bag of benefits and liabilities, with convenience and productivity balanced against security concerns and the challenges of developing solid vendor relationships.

The positives include easy online file access and collaborative possibilities, as well as reduced management headaches for your IT staff. However, a number of questions need to be addressed to safeguard your data and to protect sensitive information. For instance, how can you be sure files sent to other people are truly secure or that they won't obtain inappropriate access to confidential information? Can you trust your cloud service provider? What happens if you or your users can't access data when you need it?

This download addresses the major issues surrounding cloud storage, dividing the topics into two main actionable checklists: management and troubleshooting.

The first component, "Managing cloud storage," covers key steps including vendor assessment, enabling only essential access, and provisioning space. The second component, "Troubleshooting cloud storage," offers advice and diagnostic steps for determining the cause of problems such as flaky internet connections, sync problems, and unauthorized access or a possible malicious attack.

Each component includes a breakdown of the specifics for the steps in the corresponding lists. Here is an excerpt from the section on restricting access:

"It's not just user access you should scrutinize, but the data and devices involved. Don't synchronize data to unsecured devices. Don't synchronize an entire set of data if only a few files or folders are needed. Start from the bare minimum and work your way up. If Bob has a laptop he can use to work on data sitting in cloud storage, does he really need the same access on his tablet or phone?

"Furthermore, when it comes to sharing files with others, implement the least-necessary permissions. Many cloud providers have settings for shared files that let them "age out," after which the files are no longer available. You can also provide read-only or view-only access to files so remote users can see but not change them.

"Don't allow synchronization of data to local storage if this might pose a usage or security concern. Require online access only in these scenarios."

And on the topic of troubleshooting, author Scott Matteson offers this advice:

"If users can't access cloud storage data despite all these potential remedies, there may be something more sinister going on behind the scenes. If passwords have mysteriously changed or access permissions removed without cause, for instance, it could be a sign of malicious activity. It may also be something less alarming, such as human error (setting the wrong access levels or removing sharing from files, for example). This is why it's important to safeguard administrator access and passwords to ensure that you always have a master account to work from."

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