One of the most significant drivers of digital transformation over the past decade was the growth of cloud computing.
Gartner predicts that the global public cloud market will be worth USD 331 billion by 2022.
With more small and medium businesses leveraging cloud-based technology to cater to a wider and more digital-friendly consumer base, this figure looks to be achieved even before 2022. However, the growth of cloud computing has come with its challenges. A major concern is security threats when core business systems run on the cloud.
Studies have shown that nearly 70% of all enterprises that utilized public cloud platforms for their workloads have experienced at least one incident that posed a security threat. As more businesses ranging from retail, finance, entertainment, government, and healthcare agencies are moving their digital ecosystem to cloud environments, security and risk assessment become critical objectives for the executive leadership.
The Capital One bank failed to establish a credible risk assessment and management process for its cloud migration initiative. Subsequently, it was fined close to USD 80 million for the failure. It is a recent example of why organizations need security at the heart of their cloud strategy.
So now comes the obvious question – How can enterprises integrate security into the heart of their cloud strategy?
We have five tips that can help:
Make security a cultural trait
A 2019 study by Netwrix showed that nearly 36% of companies could not identify the source of a security breach. When enterprise business systems make their way into the cloud, organizations must make it a practice to create awareness about secure operational policies. Such policies can help employees thwart potential security threats arising out of accidental lapses such as leaked passwords, phishing and malware attacks, and more. When cloud-based applications store sensitive data such as customer credentials, any unauthorized access to the data can lead to dangerous consequences. A clear and transparent policy on who has access to the cloud should be mandatorily communicated throughout the organization. Employees must be trained to incorporate best practices in secure collaboration in the workspace. This training can even be a part of their onboarding program when they are hired.
Designing a strategic approach plan for cloud migration
For a successful cloud migration of enterprise business systems, it is not just enough to move the complete technology stack to the cloud with existing security controls. An imperative to designing and implementing secure cloud architecture for the business to shift its operations into the cloud needs to be in place. Existing applications, their data flows, infrastructure, and policies must be assessed for identifying and prioritizing cloud deployment. A metrics-driven ROI roadmap for cloud migration must be prepared to ensure that the initiative can be monitored regularly for progress on critical objectives.
Set governance and compliance standards
When critical business software resides in on-premise infrastructure, the governance, processes, and complexity of configurations are well contained inside organizational security perimeters. But with cloud computing, businesses get access to nearly unlimited scalability. While scalability proves to be a good feature, it increases the chances of misconfigurations in the environment. Subsequently, it opens up vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit. Traditional businesses rely on data protection and governance rules that were framed to protect data stored or managed in in-house infrastructure. A proper governance policy needs to be followed when they shift operational infrastructure out of the organization into a setup where they do not have physical access.
Focus on automation
When scalability offers more resources for business systems, then their monitoring turns out to be even more complex. Having to manually verify and manage workload executions at this scale will be a humongous effort and can result in vulnerabilities not being identified and being left exposed to threats. So, companies must leverage platforms and tools that will help in the automation of workload management in highly dynamic environments. Security monitoring, firewall protection, and AI-based intelligent threat neutralization tools can help keep businesses' data and business applications using cloud security without any disruptions. This will also save the time and effort of human resources who may otherwise have to manually monitor and configure environments in the event of an identified threat that came into existence when they scale up or down due to demand from the applications.
Optimizing exposure channels
To achieve true digital transformation in business operations, many times, there are multiple APIs that are exposed to external systems to connect and exchange information with the enterprise’s technology stack. It is important to guard each of these points for added security protection. By standardizing services and tightening encryption norms for different categories of data shipped through APIs, organizations can have greater control over how 3rd party systems utilize information from their business systems.
The journey to becoming a cloud-centric business is very exciting, but security needs to be at the heart of an approach to moving technology workloads to the cloud. In most cases, implementing the best practices and initiatives discussed above proves to be challenging for businesses due to the lack of critical talent and expertise in-house to handle security management on the cloud. The best way to grow your cloud ambitions without compromising on security is to have a trusted partner that can help you leverage the power of the cloud in the most secure way possible.