Migrating to the cloud can be both a scary and exciting experience. Whether your journey to the cloud is just beginning, in progress or already completed, there are many design and security questions you should address upfront to avoid future pitfalls. A security strategy and methodology that adapts to the shifting operational paradigm of the cloud is crucial to protect sensitive data throughout the system life cycle. Furthermore, a holistic approach focusing on core foundational cloud security elements such as data, networks and people is a key driver for success.

Data: Understand Where It Is and How to Protect It

Data is an important asset in any technology enterprise, and security teams should protect it accordingly. Personally identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI), intellectual property (IP) and financial data are just some of the many types of data maintained by organizations. Each data type may have its own protection and accessibility requirements. Developing a thorough understanding of an organization’s data types and their locations is a vital first step in any security professional’s pursuit of data security.

Implementing appropriate protection measures is dependent on effectively inventorying and categorizing organizational data. Encryption of data at rest using strong cryptographic ciphers can help protect organizational data from unauthorized viewing or modification in the event of a compromise. Data and workload isolation for specific data types may also benefit organizations with highly sensitive data to help prevent accidental spillage.

Networks: Shine the Light on Shadow IT

Data protection within an organization’s environment is important, but what happens when that data is on the move? Data is more mobile than ever in today’s cloud-centric world, and each new destination carries a multitude of potential threats. It raises the risk of shadow IT, where cybersecurity teams have no visibility into the tools being used by employees, what is being accessed or where data is being stored. That is where cloud access security broker (CASB) capabilities can come into play. When interposed between end users and cloud services, a CASB can govern the use of organizational resources and services, giving the organization visibility into traffic coming in and out of its boundaries.

Encryption between individual endpoints is another core element of securing network traffic and resources. CASBs facilitate device authorization to help protect network communications. Strong encryption, coupled with robust certificate management, can help organizations maintain the confidentiality and integrity of their data as it moves throughout the world.

Additional cloud technologies, such as security groups, go beyond the traditional boundary firewall concept to allow organizations to create tailored policies to filter IP traffic at the individual system level. Security groups can scale to provide an adaptable cloud security posture alongside changes to infrastructure.

People: Do You Really Know Who Is Accessing Your Data?

All systems have one common element: interaction with the people who use them. From business applications to defense systems to consumer tech, no security architecture is fully immune from the influence of the people who support it. A CASB helps provide cybersecurity teams with a consolidated view for monitoring and data loss prevention and increases your ability to prevent unauthorized access.

Security-conscious organizations should approach the security of their workforce with the same scrutiny with which they secure their information systems. Implementation of authentication, authorization and education programs is central to securing the human element of IT.

Organizations should maintain a clear delineation among access roles to information systems and authorize an individual’s access to each role only as needed to complete job duties. Fine-grained access control can give organizations the ability to assign user permissions so that only the appropriate individuals can create, maintain and use each system for its intended purpose.

The cybersecurity landscape is in a continuous state of change. Technological innovation sparks new cybersecurity needs in both information systems and those who use them. Such changes are often much easier to perform in systems than changing human behavior. A robust and continuously evolving security education program is an important component to keeping users aware and as secure as the systems they access.

Embrace Sustainable Cloud Security That Is Adaptable and Scalable

Leaders can begin to build their cloud security strategy based on the core focus areas of data, networks and people. These pillars provide an adaptable and scalable approach to cybersecurity. As organizations increasingly move from legacy data centers into public cloud environments, a robust cybersecurity strategy aligned with organizational risk tolerance is critical to maintaining stakeholder confidence through data assurance. A security framework that evolves along with an organization’s IT environment fosters a security by design mindset throughout the system life cycle.

More from Cloud Security

Is Your Critical SaaS Data Secure?

4 min read - Increasingly sophisticated adversaries create a significant challenge as organizations increasingly use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) to deliver applications and services. This mesh of cloud-based applications and services creates new complexities for security teams. But attackers need only one success, while defenders need to succeed 100% of the time. Organizations are contending with an exponential rise in advanced threats that are not only increasing in volume but also sophistication. The IBM Cost of Data Breach Report 2022 found…

4 min read

Rationalizing Your Hybrid Cloud Security Tools

3 min read - As cyber incidents rise and threat landscapes widen, more security tools have emerged to protect the hybrid cloud ecosystem. As a result, security leaders must rapidly assess their hybrid security tools to move toward a centralized toolset and optimize cost without compromising their security posture. Unfortunately, those same leaders face a variety of challenges. One of these challenges is that many security solutions create confusion and provide a false sense of security. Another is that multiple tools provide duplication coverage…

3 min read

New Generation of Phishing Hides Behind Trusted Services

4 min read - The days when email was the main vector for phishing attacks are long gone. Now, phishing attacks occur on SMS, voice, social media and messaging apps. They also hide behind trusted services like Azure and AWS. And with the expansion of cloud computing, even more Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based phishing schemes are possible. Phishing tactics have evolved faster than ever, and the variety of attacks continues to grow. Security pros need to be aware. SaaS to SaaS Phishing Instead of building…

4 min read

The Importance of Modern-Day Data Security Platforms

4 min read - Data is the backbone of businesses and companies everywhere. Data can range from intellectual property to critical business plans to personal health information or even money itself. At the end of the day, businesses are looking to grow revenue, innovate, and operationalize but to do that, they must ensure that they leverage their data first because of how important and valuable it is to their organization. No matter the industry, the need to protect sensitive and personal data should be…

4 min read