The Safety Mandates Every Enterprise Needs – Even with a Secured Cloud Offering

Cloud apps have become pervasive in every organization. As a technology, cloud has a lot to offer; it can scale up quickly, bring immense compute capacity, add agility and improve an organization’s IT landscape. We use numerable cloud apps in our daily work lives, sharing data and workloads across cloud, on-premise endpoints and third parties. Unfortunately, business leaders often believe cloud is not a safe investment, particularly public cloud as they do not have any visibility into the exact physical location of their data and feel they are giving away control to the cloud service provider.  

However, cloud is likely to be safer than on-premise infrastructure. Cloud operates at a scale that gives organizations unmatched competency to process complex and vast data that can provide important insights on threats. Also, to allay security concerns, most cloud service providers today have security baked into their offerings, by investing in best-in-class technologies.

Even with the best of secured cloud platforms, it has become imperative for organizations to focus on the following suggested measures to keep their data and processes safe.

Access Control and Security Policies

While cloud platform providers can provide the right tools, it is up to the organization to set up the right access controls and rules in place to ensure that its data is safe. For example, in cases of social engineering or insider theft, only the right policies can help ensure the safety of data. Access control settings must be aligned with each employee’s job function such that the person can perform their role efficiently, but there is little scope to misuse the data. Proper access control and identity management tools that allow for multi-factor authentication, single sign on, privileged access management etc. should be adopted in line with the organizational policies.

An organization’s security requirements are driven by various factors such as the industry it belongs to, the country it is located in and the type of data it works with. For instance, the security needs of a pharmaceutical company will vary widely from that of a retail organization. Even within an organization, different types of data require different degrees of security. It is essential to ensure that you have the right security policies as appropriate for your industry and your business requirements. Cloud providers provide the necessary tools and security options to help frame robust security policies to protect an organization ’s data.

Standardization of cloud foundational security through minimum viable protocols ensures that all important security considerations are put in place. The Cloud Security Alliance has released minimum security controls for cloud foundational security.

Watertight Contracts and Governance Frameworks

In the case of any data breach, the liability always lies with the organization, rather than the cloud provider. Therefore, it becomes essential to ensure that the contracts are well defined and have penalty clauses that can be invoked in the event of any breach.

In cloud environments, governance needs to be multi-fold. Unlike in an on-premise environment where governance is only restricted to the internal infrastructure, cloud environments require at least a two-tier governance model – one for the company infrastructure and second for the cloud service provider to ensure that they have proper checks and balances at their end. Organizations require frameworks for continuous monitoring and compliance to ensure the safety of their data centers while adhering to both local and international compliance requirements. They need to constantly check for the security posture of their governance framework.

Security can sometimes become tricky in multi-cloud environments where the data resides on different platforms. In such an event, organizations must ensure that there is a policy engine that controls policies based on the data itself rather than the platform where it resides. 

Security That Works Everywhere

Countries around the world are emphasizing on implementing data storage on local servers as they feel they need to have control over data that is originating from within their national boundaries in order to ensure national safety and prevention of crime. At the same time, this also causes hindrance to global trade due to lack of reusability and interoperability.

One must note data security is more a function of security processes than geographical location. International cloud system providers usually have robust security accreditations and access to global databases of fraudulent practices and patterns that they can utilize to make their ‘local data’ safer. Enterprises on the other hand must ensure that they consider the local privacy policies and templates on the cloud and have the relevant security and audit controls on data that moves from a shared international platform to a local cloud.

Laws around data storage vary across different geographies. So, they need to adhere to them. An organization needs to protect data whether it is residing on a hard drive, flash drive, laptop, desktop or whether it is moving from one device to another or from one network to another. For hackers, it is the value of the data, whether at rest or in transit, that lures them to commit a crime. The security team must classify the data that they want to protect in order to strategize on the appropriate data protection measures. Data encryption is the primary tool used to secure both types of data. Intelligent cloud solutions that enable 24/7 surveillance through endpoint detection and response, security orchestration and automation. A proactive approach bolstered with context-aware security protocols is the best way to protect your data in whichever state it is in.

Cloud platforms, the underlying infrastructure and hosted applications are the critical components in the cloud eco-system.

The bottom line is, irrespective of the cloud provider(s) that your organization chooses, taking ownership of your data’s security and including security as part of the cloud strategy is highly recommended.

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?