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How to Clear the Top 3 Security Hurdles to Successful Cloud Adoption

For enterprise businesses seeking agility, speed, and innovation, cloud technologies can deliver big. According to a 2018 study, 77% of enterprises have at least one application or a portion of their enterprise computing infrastructure in the cloud.

Source: IDG

That’s because an optimized cloud can help businesses more quickly launch new products and services, provide better user experiences, and increase scale and flexibility, all while striking an optimal CapEx/OpEx balance for their business. But how do you reap the benefits of the cloud, while ensuring your company’s assets and data stay secure?

Successful adoption requires cloud teams and security teams to work together with a common understanding of processes, responsibilities, and goals. Help your team overcome the security challenges of cloud adoption by recognizing these three major hurdles.

1. Understand the Differences (and Similarities) Between Cloud and On-Premise Security

According to the MITRE ATT&CK framework, more than 95% of attacks fall outside of the cloud provider’s responsibility. Most attacks target operating systems or applications, which are the responsibility of the cloud consumer. A deeper understanding of how cloud and on-premise systems work together can alleviate security holes and reduce the chances for a damaging attack on your business.

Source: MITRE

There are three areas in particular that require your attention:

Shared Security Responsibilities

Enterprise security teams must know where their responsibilities begin and end with both on-premise and cloud solutions. With on-premise, internal teams already know they are responsible for security end-to-end. However, with cloud security, a portion of the security responsibility falls with the public cloud service provider (CSP). Working closely with the CSP to understand where responsibilities lie fosters a safer and more controlled environment.

APIs and Automation

The cloud offers connections and capabilities in the form of APIs and automation that are often unavailable with traditional on-premise security. These connected tools and systems can drive efficiency and collaboration, but will require training for some on-premise security teams.

2. Educate Internal Security Staff on How to Best Use and Manage the Public Cloud

When an industry changes as quickly as IT, skill gaps with new technology are inevitable. 

For security professionals who are accustomed to operating within on-premise environments, it can be daunting to step out of their comfort zones and into unfamiliar territory. This can result in aversion to new technologies, including the cloud, which can then lead to Shadow IT. 

Shadow IT is when services are consumed within an organization without the IT team’s knowledge. IT teams are then blind to which information is hosted on the cloud and therefore, any potential problems or threats that may arise. 

The best antidote to Shadow IT and cloud-aversion is education. Training should include an understanding of which business drivers lead the organization to the cloud, the benefits cloud services can bring, and deep knowledge of the tools and services implemented.

Most cloud providers offer free educational resources to help teams understand how to securely and effectively implement their tools.

3. Anticipate How the Cloud Affects Regulatory and Compliance Postures

The cloud brings benefits like speed and agility, but without consideration for governance and compliance, consumer data can be placed at serious risk. Regulations like GDPR, PCI, and HIPAA require security teams to be vigilant against public cloud compliance gaps.

There is no one size fits all approach for compliance in the cloud, but the following guideposts are applicable across industries and environments:

Consume Cloud Services Responsibly

Regardless of the regulations your business is subject to or the cloud tools it implements, it is ultimately the business’s responsibility to ensure it meets compliance requirements. Security teams can help cloud users within the organization understand which projects should be executed on the cloud and which require tighter security. 

Analyze Architectural Trade-Offs

Security should be top of mind when architecting cloud environments. In the cloud, there are additional considerations that impact cost, efficiency, and compliance. Teams can design security controls and systems that meet compliance requirements, but they shouldn’t undermine the benefits the cloud offers.

Prepare for Audits with APIs

As compliance auditing becomes more sophisticated, it is increasingly important for IT teams to be able to audit actions within the cloud. One way to do this is to use APIs to log each time systems, services or data is engaged. Then, if an audit is required, your team is prepared to show how tools are used and assets are accessed.

These three priorities—differentiation between on-premise and the cloud, internal education, and compliance considerations—are experienced by enterprises of all sizes and within all industries. By being aware of these dangers, your team can look forward to a smoother, more successful journey towards cloud adoption.

Want to learn more about how to optimize for cost and security within the cloud? Download AHEAD’s  Launch Your AWS Cloud to New Heights whitepaper or our Azure Governance Framework whitepaper.

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