While the ever-expanding impact of the cloud is transforming organisations, we must also address a series of important questions if a business is going to actually succeed. Most importantly, as the cloud’s influence continues to permeate through workforces who are striving to be more accessible and more competitive, how can we guarantee that businesses find the equilibrium between maximising the benefits of the cloud, while also ensuring that teams have the specialist knowledge to protect themselves from risks while doing so?
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To move to the cloud, organisations have channelled efforts into attracting IT professionals with the right technical expertise. In the meantime, it appears that security has become less of a priority, as shown by a recent study from the IT consultancy, Company85. The research found that 95 percent of Company85’s customers used the cloud for hundreds of services, but only 7 percent of enterprise companies were confident they met their security needs. Now is the time to address this balance, and here are four steps in how to do this successfully.
Step 1: Recognition
The first step is recognition. It is crucial for businesses who operate in the cloud to acknowledge that security risks are intrinsic to this way of working. While IT systems have always been subject to cyber threats, cloud computing heightens the risk that databases face from security attacks, including hacking, phishing and ransomware. These attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, enhancing the need for awareness.
Step 2: Security Measures
Many of the top 12 cloud computing threats that organisations face today, as identified by the Cloud Security Alliance, could be avoided through improving IT processes. For example, using multifactor authentication and encryption can protect against data breaches. You can help to prevent hacking by reinforcing your API and interface security, which can be achieved, in part, by having the right modelling applications in place and conducting thorough testing.
Permanent data loss and data theft could be considered the most damaging security breaches, with data theft incidents costing UK businesses £6.2 billion per year, according to the internet service provider, Beaming. Distributing data across multiple zones and ensuring you have adequate data backup measures are just a few ways to avoid data loss. Taking initial steps to mitigate such risks will bring your team closer to operating efficiently within the cloud.
Security should be front of mind for every IT professional. Essentially, collaboration and communication are pivotal to successful safety management and, while adopting a DevOps focused approach will help, the primary challenge facing CISO’s and leadership teams is how to install the security message without it becoming stale.
Step 3: Collaboration
The third thing you can do is to establish a unified approach between your IT team and wider workforce. Developing an educated security culture within your organisation will create awareness of safe security practices throughout your entire workforce. By engaging employees about how to spot and report threats, you can protect against dangerous security breaches or even stop a potential attack before it disrupts your system.
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However, security methods are not only the responsibility of IT departments. Establishing a successfully united approach between your IT team and the rest of your employees has to be a mutual relationship to succeed. The IT team can provide critical education and expertise, but your workforce should be actively reporting on suspicious circumstances. Feedback from IT teams to those reporting on issues will encourage employees to continue raising the flag for future suspicious activities that could negatively affect your business’s digital safety. The whole organisation needs to play their part in tackling these issues.
Step 4: Developing new skills
All in all, as more companies transition to the cloud, there is an increasingly apparent shift in the skills organisations need within their IT functions. Skills such as mobile device management, multi-factor authentication, specialist and off-the-shelf networking and systems monitoring tools, vulnerability assessment and penetration testing, are sure to be in high demand. As a result, as businesses continue hiring IT professionals with the expertise of cloud implementation security practices, organisations must invest in training their current employees, to ensure that as a whole, they are operating to their optimum.
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Ultimately, while certain security measures are put in place by cloud providers, it is the end users who are actually responsible for guarding their data. Promoting awareness of security measures will help your business to mitigate risk yet still profit from the flexibility offered by the cloud. In addition to finding talent within the security space, we must nurture the development of security awareness and be learning within organisations. To successfully operate a network that is both efficient and secure, cloud skills and security measures are not adversaries. Only a union of the two will define the success or your business.