Cloud Security: Protect your Cloud First Approach from the Wind, the Hail, and the Rain brewing right beneath that Cloud!

Runa Tripathy   

With the initiation of the tech age, came an exciting era across all walks of life. We are not in the times which was perhaps a vision, a dream slightly over a century ago. You look across any arena of life and you see how each of them has excelled and propelled us towards a future that’s geared towards perfection; Communication is at lightning speed, transportation is instantaneous and convenient. And in this pursuit to better or best in technology, Cloud computing is fast gaining traction as the go-to approach for the tech leaders. No, IT leader today wants to play catch up to Cloud Computing, unlike many other technological shifts that we have seen in the last two decades, as everyone realizes the enormity of this mistake.

Today, CIOs are increasingly assured that a cloud-first strategy is a way to go. Gartner confirms that global spending on public cloud services will grow 21.4 percent through 2018 to total $186.4 billion, up from $153.5 billion in 2017. What’s more, 28 percent of spending within key enterprise IT markets will shift to the cloud by 2022, up from 19 percent during 2018.


Cloud-First Approach

Cloud-First approach entails that when any new IT project, refresh or replacement comes up, our first instinct should be to think about how the technology could be spun up and managed within a cloud environment. By adopting a cloud-enabled approach and instituting a cloud-first strategy to upgrades, organizations shift their businesses from legacy to digitally transformed enterprises. For example, with the expiration of a legacy ERP on the skyline, a company today will consider the cost savings of cloud ERP from an infrastructure and capabilities standpoint and that’s only the beginning of how or when an organization evaluates and approaches a Cloud Strategy.

However, while the adoption of the cloud has increased manifold, so have the challenges in regards to cloud security. Of the many discussions I have around organizations and their need to move to the cloud two prominent mindsets have always stood out – IT Leaders who are all convinced about the benefits of the cloud and are ready to jump the gun and IT leaders who are completely holding back and dismissing the cloud as something that will pass. To me both are equally dangerous, the former in their gold-mine rush may completely forego the pitfalls of moving to the Cloud and the latter will never test the water for themselves. A Cloud-first strategy while a great way to set your organization in motion to adapt to the changing technology landscape, always requires one to be mindful and have a preparatory approach towards a few things and Security on the Cloud should be one of the things that takes a good percentage mindshare of the decision-maker.

By this, I do not want to raise any alarming signals of “Cloud is not safe,” but just how you would weigh in security measures in your on-prem setup, so also you need to have Security built into your Cloud approach instead of taking a bolt in approach. In fact, CIOs need to ensure their security teams are not holding back cloud initiatives with unsubstantiated cloud security worries. Exaggerated fears can result in lost opportunity and inappropriate spending.

While it is a fact that Cloud had been around for over two decades, yet several businesses find security as a challenge to tackle on the cloud. So, let’s look at some of the “Security Things” you must take care of before diving straight into a Cloud-First Strategy:

1. Upfront Security Strategy: Having a well thought out and elaborate Security Strategy right at the onset is crucial to getting your Cloud strategy to succeed. Do not depend on continuing to use your on-prem Security Solutions while migrating to the cloud as it will slow down cloud deployments. Rely heavily after extensive research on the right Security solutions for your business that are built for the cloud.

2. Keep Up with the Cloud: Deployments on cloud are swifter and more regular in terms of frequency, so you should look into a security solution that’s nimble, can scale up rapidly, quickly scan for vulnerabilities during building, testing and production, and deploy new environments on short notice – all capabilities unsuited for legacy approaches to security.

3. Evaluate Your Compliance & Regulatory Guidelines: Cloud deployments shift your risk profile and could affect your ability to meet various regulations. This requires evaluation of compliance requirements as they relate to the cloud deployment you are considering. Some cloud applications give you strong reporting and are tailored to meet specific regulatory requirements, while others are more generic and cannot or will not meet detailed compliance requirements. For example, if you are bound by a regulation that says your data cannot be stored outside the country, some cloud providers may not be able to accommodate this regulation based on data center locations.

4. Be Prepared to Handle Breaches and Incidents: While you prep your organization towards moving to the Cloud, you need to also formulate plans in case of breaches and data loss. The cloud provider (as a service provider), and you as a company, most likely have breach notification policies or regulations you must meet. You must ensure that a cloud provider can support your notification requirements should the need arise.

5. Identity and Access Management: How do you ensure that only authorized employees, partners, and customers can access data and applications?

We have often heard optimists say “The sun always shines above the clouds." What they fail to mention is that beneath the clouds there's often a lot that brews up – winds, hails, rains, and more.

The same is true with cloud computing. On the sunny side, the cloud offers a variety of benefits, including the promise of enhanced reliability, flexibility, manageability and scalability. However, a single error, lapse or slip-up can lead to utter disaster. If you want to ensure a cloud transition that showers your enterprise with benefits rather than risks, you should look into a baked in Security approach on the cloud.