Cloud computing has been revolutionising the IT environment for businesses and their workforces, enhancing the efficiency of operations, the opportunities for flexible working, and exponentially increasing their access to storage and compute capacity. Despite the benefits of working in the cloud, businesses still need to be aware of potential pitfalls and acknowledge that it makes them more vulnerable to cyber security issues. As such, organisations must recognise that investing in the cloud requires heightened security measures within their IT functions, as well a balance of the right skills needed to thrive.

Prepare for challenges of the future

Looking ahead, there is a serious need for businesses to equip themselves to deal with technology disruptors that are unexpected and unpredictable. Networkers’ Voice of the Workforce research, a survey of over 1,600 tech professionals which examines confidence in the sector, shows that many IT professionals currently believe their organisations are neither prepared nor agile enough for the challenges of the future, such as the internet of things, big data, and mostly, cyber security. Also, only 34% of tech professionals believe their companies are proactive in implementing changes that will allow them to prosper in the future technology landscape.

Acknowledging the risks that operating in the cloud poses and preparing to mitigate these risks is the first step to securely operating on the cloud. The second is bolstering businesses’ defences, and advancing skills and operations to fully embrace the cloud as fundamental to computing operations.

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Improve IT processes 

Data breaches are potentially the most damaging safety issues for companies operating on the cloud. These could be avoided through implementing the right modelling applications to protect IT infrastructures and undertaking thorough testing to decipher the strength of your businesses data defences, in order to understand the next steps needed to optimise security. In addition, businesses can contribute to mitigating cyber security and data hacking risks by ensuring they have extensive data backup procedures in place, which will help workforces to operate efficiently within the cloud.

The progression of automated infrastructure brings the evolution of an existing buzzword – ‘DevSecOps’ – putting security firmly in the spotlight for both developers and operations engineers. Automation removes some of the risks of human error but only if a solid process for the sign off of code is supported, with many tools available which allow for accountability and change tracking as code evolves. Instigating a ‘DevSecOps’ focused approach, uniting the development of operations and the work of IT professionals will help contribute to effective security management of working within the cloud.

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Upskill to create a security-conscious culture

Our research showed that 57% of tech professionals believe there is a skills shortage in the sector. Furthermore, it should be a concern for businesses that security and cloud skill demands are increasing exponentially and far outstrip availability.

With companies continuing to move to cloud-based services, we will see an increase in demand for skills in developing areas, like mobile device management, multi-factor authentication, specialist and off the shelf networking and systems monitoring tools and vulnerability assessment and penetration testing.

To succeed, organisations will need to train and upskill their existing staff to ensure they have elevated awareness of security practices. Educating and engaging your userbase about threats, how to spot them and how to report them, will help to protect organisations from a nasty attack or could even stop damaging attacks in their tracks.

Now, companies are increasingly cross-training and retraining their existing staff, taking advantage of new cloud security based certifications, such as the Certified Cloud Security Professional Certification (CCSP) and Microsoft and AWS certification tracks, in which security training is embedded throughout. Businesses are also building their own teams with the skills, processes and best practices in place to provide secure infrastructure. Instilling knowledge and awareness throughout all levels of business will be the most effective way to ensure that all employees feel like are appropriately equipped to deal with change.  

In addition to offering insightful training to existing staff, organisations should look to hire IT professionals with knowledge of cloud implementation and awareness of security practices. Recruiting externally for a blend or permanent and contract resource will be advantageous in filling the knowledge gaps and bringing innovative ideas and new perspectives to revitalise your workforces and security measures.

Ultimately, as the cloud is becoming increasingly fundamental to organisations, we need to make sure our businesses are both secure and flexible enough to adapt to change, and that our workforces have an informed understanding of the cloud, and the associated cyber security risks at every level of business. This agility and preparedness will ensure that businesses keep their competitive edge, and only the best-equipped will succeed.