Protection for Your SQL Databases in the Cloud

The cloud computing paradigm offers organizations many business and technical advantages that are driving its popularity. While these benefits may be substantial, migrating or deploying systems and applications to the cloud creates a more diverse and complex environment for your IT team to manage. It’s one of the tradeoffs required when you employ the cloud’s immense resources.

If you have SQL databases that live in the cloud there is a good chance that at least some of them contain business-critical information. Keeping this data safe and secure is just as important as before the cloud was involved. One of the most consequential responsibilities of the database team is to ensure that their databases are being properly backed up. This includes verifying the data can only be accessed by authorized individuals. These tasks are complicated when the cloud is used to host or backup your databases.

Potential Security Risks of Cloud Storage

The cloud introduces data security risks which must be considered and addressed if you value the safety of your information. These risks can affect the data in the systems themselves or the storage that is used to back them up. Among the most critical are:

  • Data privacy - Having data in the cloud exposes it to additional entities outside of your immediate control. While you may enforce stringent management of user permissions and data access, other individuals can now gain access to your information. Rogue admins could compromise sensitive personal or business data.

  • Shared servers and infrastructure - Cloud providers do not have dedicated servers for each user or application that they host. You may be sharing space with a client who has no concern for security and has introduced malware to the server. Your data could be at risk simply due to the proximity and behavior of its neighbors.

  • Inconsistent backup responsibilities - Various cloud providers and services may handle data backup in very different ways. In some cases, the complete backup process is managed and performed by the provider. At the other end of the spectrum, you may simply be using the cloud to store backups that you are initiating and managing. Multiple cloud instances or providers can make it difficult to define who is responsible for backing up the data. A vital point to remember is that in the end, it is your data and your responsibility to protect it. Ensuring that the parties charged with this task are performing as expected is part of the equation.

Mitigating Cloud Storage Security Risks

Steps can be taken to minimize the risks of storing data in the cloud. Here are some of the ways you can address these specific risks.

  • Privacy - The most effective method of protecting the privacy and security of your data is to make sure it is always encrypted when it is in the cloud. Data should be encrypted in transit to the cloud and at rest once it arrives. Included in this encryption policy should be any backups made of your information. This protects the data by making it unusable if compromised by unauthorized individuals.

  • Shared servers - The risks of sharing space with unknown entities may make you a little nervous. You might envision a scenario where your systems are brought down by unforeseen circumstances out of your control. The best remedy for this recurring nightmare is to establish a comprehensive backup and recovery policy so you can restore the systems quickly if required.

  • Backup responsibilities - Ironing out the details of the responsibility concerning those critical backups is essential to achieving the ability to fully protect and restore your data. You need to determine who is responsible for executing and managing the data backups.

  • Demonstrating regulatory compliance - This issue is intertwined with backup responsibilities. When subject to a compliance audit, who is responsible for producing the relevant information regarding your data backups? Relying on your cloud provider might not sit well with the auditors when they can’t supply the required reports and documentation. Your organization will be held responsible for compliance failures pertaining to your data, so it is highly advisable that you have the means to produce evidence to demonstrate regulatory compliance.

A Tool for Resilient Database Protection

You will notice a common thread in the threat mitigation techniques discussed above. Backups are involved in one way or another in each method of protecting your data. This fact implies that you need to have a tool that can help harden the backup process you use to protect your databases and identify gaps which need to be filled. The tool should also provide insight into the stored data that enables you to address regulatory concerns and demonstrate compliance.

SQL Safe Backup from IDERA is the right tool to protect your SQL databases whether they are hosted on-premises or in the cloud. It offers the ability to create secure backups directly to cloud storage employing 128 and 256-bit AES encryption with a minimal performance impact. Cloud-based storage is fully supported and the tool can be integrated with Tivoli Storage Manager to comply with enterprise storage policies.

SQL Safe Backup provides support for SQL Server instances on cloud virtual machines and can access cloud storage that is mapped as a network drive. It can manage all SQL Server backups in a hybrid environment from a single backup tool. Multiple user interfaces are supplied to enable you to view the data conveniently. A central repository stores backup information for auditing purposes which can be used to assist in demonstrating compliance with regulatory guidelines. It’s a great tool to help minimize the risk of cloud storage to your critical databases.

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