Planning a secure cloud migration? Here are some tips to help make the process smooth.
Three out of every four organizations on the planet have some sort of cloud presence. According to a 2018 IDG survey, 77% of enterprises now have at least one application or some portion of their enterprise computing infrastructure in the cloud. In addition, enterprises plan to invest an average of $3.5 million on cloud apps, platforms and services, the report found.
Looking forward, executive management at technology-dependent industries—including manufacturing, high-tech and telecom—are increasingly driving toward becoming 100% cloud-enabled. Which also means that, except for those new startups starting with a full cloud-based infrastructure, most organizations are currently either actively migrating their infrastructure and/or applications to the cloud; trying to bridge their business processes, applications and workflows between a local physical network and one or more networks residing in the public cloud; or are planning to do so.
One of the challenges these organizations face is creating a consistent security posture across their local and cloud-based resources. The reality is, not all security policies can be successfully and seamlessly implemented across a multi-cloud environment, especially when using a variety of tools. That’s because most vendor solutions either do not support all of the major cloud platforms. And for those that do, many do not support native cloud integration leveraging cloud resource description. This can create challenges in enforcement consistency and policy definition as workflows and applications move between different cloud environments, resulting in security gaps and blind spots that can be exploited.
Successfully Migrating Security to the Cloud
Migrating infrastructures, applications or services to the cloud without expanding the attack surface or increasing security overhead requires careful preparation. This starts by understanding that any cloud-based deployment, whether building out a new infrastructure or building a new application, requires clear communication between lines of business, IT and security teams. Without clear communications about business needs and objectives and a candid discussion of related threats, organizations open themselves to a whole array of new risks, including denial-of-service attacks targeting cloud resources, cloud malware injection, web application exploitation, cloud-API attacks and account or service hijacking.
Successful cloud migration also requires successfully migrating security to the cloud, enabling organizations to deploy and manage a single, consistent security framework that spans the entire multi-cloud infrastructure.
Here are six steps every organization should consider when planning a cloud adoption or cloud migration strategy:
Baseline Your Security Before Cloud Migration
Far too many organizations own security architecture built around isolated security devices, decentralized management and an inconsistent application of security policies.
If this is the case for your organization, you will need to start by getting control of your security sprawl and imposing a central security strategy. Once that is in place, you then need to ask the following questions:
- Do you know your current security posture and its implications for your future business goals?
- Do you have the proper policies and procedures in place for your current and future environments?
- Have you performed a gap analysis for how cloud will change your security paradigm?
- What are the impacts of a distributed, cloud-based network on risk management?
Plan for Bandwidth Requirements
You will need to model and understand data flows and bandwidth requirements to ensure that your security solutions can meet performance requirements, especially for latency-sensitive services that will need to go over VPN tunnels.
Understand Compliance Issues
What requirements do you have to meet for data processed and stored on the cloud, as well as for data that moves between different cloud and physical network environments? It is crucial that your legal team be consulted before you begin to build or adopt any sort of cloud program.
Provide for High Availability and Disaster Recovery
The biggest fear for most organizations looking at a cloud solution, after addressing security concerns, is the availability of cloud-based resources. You also need to recognize whether dynamic scaling is required and whether your security solution can meet new performance requirements. Finally, you need to consider things such as flow symmetry and load balancing, especially for legacy applications, to maintain availability, performance and protection even when utilizing dynamic cloud-based services.
Apply the Right Security at the Right Place
Cloud security requires much more than simply placing a firewall at the perimeter of the cloud infrastructure. A wide range of security solutions will need to be applied depending on the applications running and services being used. A next-generation firewall (NGFW) solution is the most common security tool to be applied, but other solutions are often also required, including web application firewall (WAF), intrusion protection or detection service (IPS/IDS) and a cloud access security broker (CASB).
Establish a Lifecycle Management Framework
Ensuring consistency between security solutions and policy enforcement, especially when they span multiple environments, is crucial. Security tools need to be chosen not only for their ability to operate natively in a specific cloud platform, but also for their ability to interoperate seamlessly through the entire security policy life cycle with sister solutions deployed in other environments. This includes consistent security change policy, dynamic provisioning and scaling, single point of management—including integration with a central ITSM solution and central log collection—and correlation.
Don’t Let the Ease of the Cloud Trick You into Shortcutting Security
Adopting a cloud service can be as simple as clicking a link. And adding a new cloud-based infrastructure, while much more complex, is far easier than building its physical counterpart. But that can be deceptively simplistic. Far too many organizations have had to pay the price for rushing into a new cloud solution without carefully considering challenges related to security. These have ranged from opening new attack vectors into their network, to being unprepared for new cloud-based threats or being blindsided by fines and penalties for failing to adequately prepare for new compliance considerations.
Careful preparation before you begin to build out your new cloud infrastructures, platforms or services can save you time, money, reputation and enable you to compete effectively in today’s new digital marketplace.