Cloud Migration is in Full Swing: How to Achieve Security at Every Stage of Adoption

A cloud hangs overhead. It doesn’t forecast rain — instead, cyber-threats. Companies’ digital footprints are expanding at an unprecedented rate, causing serious reliance on cloud servers. Today’s IT environments use a combination of public, private clouds alongside on-premise infrastructure — with no signs of slowing down. A 2021 Gartner report estimated that global spending on public cloud services will grow by 23%, with 51% of enterprise IT group spending being allocated to cloud service providers by 2025.

Now companies find themselves in a precarious position. A recent report by Reposify assessed the external attack surface of the top 35 cybersecurity companies and their 350+ subsidiaries, with shocking results. Almost all — 97% of companies — hosted an exposed asset in AWS cloud. Microsoft Azure cloud accounted for 82% of companies, and Google Cloud Platform came last with 76%.

Regardless of your industry, cloud security must come first. Contrary to popular belief, the onus to protect cloud data falls on the customer, not the host provider. Improper access management, cloud services misconfiguration, cloud applications provisioned outside IT visibility and lack of staff with skills to manage security for cloud applications can all make companies vulnerable to attack and are far more common than assumed. Common mistakes can be avoided once security leaders understand where they are in their cloud journey — migration, growth or evolution — common mistakes can be avoided. There are actionable steps to be taken to ensure optimal security in the cloud; external attack surface management platforms (EASM) bolster every step of the way.

So You’ve Decided to Migrate to the Cloud, Security Should Be Top of Mind

Companies in the planning stages should manage their migration strategically, with security among their main priorities. Building on the expertise of internal security teams, infrastructure must be configured appropriately and maintained throughout the cloud migration process. Configuration is key — cloud hosting should operate on a private virtual cloud wherever possible and mostly house internal infrastructure. This is a strong means of threat mitigation, particularly when deployed alongside web application firewall for external-facing applications and services, which will prevent opportunists from fetching and tampering with corporate data, or using ransomware for profit. External attack surface management (EASM) platforms are an excellent first port of call for those beginning their journey, as the fastest solution to understand where exposures are, and how to protect against them in real time.

Migration Complete, It’s Time to Grow: Securing Hybrid Cloud Environments

Once technical infrastructure and best practices are in place, upskilling security teams to manage and complement automated tools is next. Human resources must be allocated to help mitigate risk and exposure of assets. Hiring security professionals who understand the challenge can help bridge knowledge and the skills gaps across an organization. Performing regular audits with third-party professionals, and security posture training seminars for asset managers, will address proper cloud operation to prevent misconfigurations. It will also help to ensure users are operating within the bounds of proper security protocol — including least privilege and multi-factor authentication. Strong governance plays a critical role through well-defined responsibility matrices and robust operational models. Meanwhile, EASM platforms can provide unique insight into where teams should spend their time reducing risk, ultimately preventing exposure in the long term.

Evolution: Leveling Up Your Cloud Security Strategy

Now that teams are reinforced with training and infrastructure in place to support cloud migration, companies may start looking abroad to strengthen their foundation. Enter cloud security posture management platforms (CSPM), which centrally manage security. These tools deploy security assessments and automated compliance monitoring to remediate risks. However, they take much time and effort to get right — potentially causing more harm than good. When deployed with real-time EASM platforms, CISOs can ensure nothing is missed when configuring new CSPM tools.

Detecting and Managing Exposed Internet-Facing Assets Allows Organizations to Evolve Safely in the Cloud

The crux is this: no matter how sophisticated your cloud migration journey, the best approach blends automation tools with traditional team support and development. Thorough cloud security requires the cooperation of all teams. Human resources, business functions and IT teams must train staff on proper cloud management protocols. All the while, EASM will provide the critical ability to security teams — alleviating strain, accurately tracking assets across organizations and providing much-needed support in this time of transition. 

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