Cut Through the Fog: Improve Cloud Visibility to Identify Shadow IT

Last summer, I journeyed to a friend’s lake house in the beautiful Berkshires of Massachusetts for a weekend of boating and fishing. Great Barrington is not too far from Boston, and I expected the road trip along the Massachusetts Turnpike to be clear and easy.

It was smooth sailing out of the gate, and I was making great time. (In fact, I was hoping to get there early enough to enjoy a Friday afternoon on the lake.) But when I was about 45 minutes away from the lake house, I encountered a dense fog that forced me to slow down. My visibility was limited to several hundred feet, and I could no longer see the extended road ahead of me.

The Enterprise Will Extend to the Cloud

Just as I was expecting a speedy arrival, today’s enterprises expect to migrate to the cloud quickly. They hope to take advantage of the dynamic efficiency of cloud computing platforms and software as a service (SaaS) applications.

However, the cloud brings with it a fog that obscures visibility into technology environments and SaaS applications. This fog leads to shadow IT, which impacts cloud security and makes it difficult to travel at speed while keeping your eyes on the road. Without adequate visibility into cloud environments, security teams cannot protect against cloud-based data breaches, malicious insiders, advanced persistent threats (APTs) and other cyberthreats.

When it comes to driving through fog in the real world, standard rules of the road include slowing down, turning on your headlights — and resisting the urge to flip on your high beams. Most importantly? Any good driving instructor will tell you to stay focused on the road, as driving through fog is no time for multitasking.

Unfortunately, these are not viable solutions for organizations competing in today’s markets. So, how can companies cut through the fog to improve overall cost efficiency, reduce IT investment, dynamically scale and deploy business services — and take advantage of cloud automation?

No Time to Slow Down

Slowing down is not an option for competitive organizations aiming to deliver innovative products and services to customers at speed. Both customers and employees demand continuous access and visibility into data. Latency problems and inhibited vision into platform resources can prevent companies from operating at full capacity. As a result, many organizations view security as an impediment to business growth and expansion. These organizations harbor valid concerns about the risks associated with deploying workloads in the cloud and procuring SaaS applications.

Shed Light on Shadow IT

It’s tempting to deploy five different solutions from five different vendors to cover all your cloud security bases, but this introduces unnecessary complexities because the disparate tools will be difficult to integrate and manage. That’s why it’s important for security leaders to weigh the pros and cons of each solution and select the one that best enables them to identify shadow IT, increase visibility and shed light on cloud application usage.

Enterprises cannot afford to place all of their security eggs in one basket either. Organizations that invest all their resources into narrowly focused solutions leave themselves vulnerable to the dynamic threat vectors that exist across business infrastructures. A single, isolated tool with a limited scope has very little to offer to a large organization with a growing cloud footprint. As complexity and diversity increase — and the enterprise continues to extend into the cloud — there is growing demand for a single security platform to provide complete enterprise protection.

Cut Through the Cloud Security Fog

The key to implementing an effective cloud security strategy is to integrate cloud tools with a cutting-edge security information and event management (SIEM) platform. Just as SaaS applications enable organizations to leverage cloud functionality and move at speed, the cloud allows threat actors to move just as quickly.

An effective cloud security strategy relies upon visibility tools integrated with an SIEM solution to quickly discover cloud threats, jump-start investigations with actionable intelligence and respond to incidents with automation.

With visibility comes clarity and the freedom to focus on the road. A single, scalable cloud security solution integrated with an SIEM platform enables enterprises to concentrate on driving business results instead of wasting time stuck in the fog of shadow IT.

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Patrick Routh

Offering Manager for QRadar - Cloud Offerings

Patrick Routh is an Offering Manager for QRadar focusing on a number of cloud initiatives to help strengthen IBM's...