Closing Cloud Security Gaps at Every Step of the Migration Process

Migrating SAP to the cloud is a very timely topic. Many customers are either in the middle of a migration to the cloud, planning a migration or at least considering this complex move. This is a very sensitive and important action for organizations to take, so it needs to be well-planned to account for cloud security. However, there is no secret template or model of what an SAP cloud should look like, making it tricky to move services and data to the cloud.

Why Move to the Cloud?

The concept of cloud computing has been around for a while now, but it has gained significant momentum over the last few years. At first, we saw simpler systems moving to the cloud. Now, organizations are beginning to move key business-critical systems such as SAP and data as well. Some of the benefits of this shift include:

  • Significant cost savings to the organization and the elimination of the need to purchase and manage data centers;
  • More complete access to systems, data, applications and services over the internet;
  • The ability of users to work remotely or from other locations across the globe; and
  • Easier and more cost-effective scaling of environments.

Common Misconceptions About Cloud Security

There are also some misconceptions associated with moving to the cloud that might get passed down to security teams. Many IT professionals assume, for example, that cloud migration enables free or cost-effective IT management and that the cloud environment is inherently secure. This is often the case, but security teams must closely manage the process to ensure that systems are implemented correctly, securely and up to the organization’s standards.

If the IT department fails to address cloud security before migrating, the environment will become vulnerable. Cloud providers typically implement a base-level system. It’s up to the organization to configure these systems securely or work with the provider to implement service-level agreements (SLAs).

Starting Your Cloud Migration

While some companies have the luxury of starting from scratch in the cloud, most organizations must take on the task of moving existing implementations. With an SAP implementation, this can be quite a challenge. Due to the complexity and customization of SAP, migrating these critical systems to the cloud can become a long and difficult process.

Still, there are a few things you can do to get a good head start. The most critical step is to establish a strong security strategy. This requires a full understanding of the contracts and the extent to which the provider is willing to customize its service to establish security. IT leaders must also confirm who is responsible for patching or implementing SAP security notes in the cloud environment, as well as what SLAs are put in place to ensure that patches are tested and implemented in a timely manner.

Many organizations constantly perform vulnerability assessments of their cloud environments during the migration process. This ensures that the implementations are evaluated for security step by step and compliance gaps are remediated immediately and not left until the migration is complete. With this reassurance, security analysts can easily pinpoint vulnerabilities and fix them before they are susceptible to insider or outsider threats.

Plotting Your Plan of Action

Still, the IT team must be ready with a response plan in case of a breach. Who will investigate — the vendor, the provider or the data owner? Whatever the scenario is, it should be well-documented and all parties should be aware of the plan of action. Also make sure that all parties are aware of the European Union (EU)’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This is a fairy new regulation taking shape now and will be fully implemented in May 2018.

Additionally, security teams should continuously monitor their cloud environments during the migration process to detect and stop threats in virtual real time. This gives security analysts peace of mind as they configure the cloud environment.

Charlie Singh

SAP Security and GRC Leader, IBM

Charlie has over 16 years of experience in audit, risk and compliance arena and has held various technical and...