For many enterprises, migrating towards a cloud delivered approach for IT systems is an attractive proposition. Current cloud technology can enable a company to move business critical applications, data, and even desktop apps to a cloud environment.
We know that a well deployed cloud solution, can lead to major benefits. These include better performance, more stability and a much reduced cost of ownership. However, making the jump from on-site infrastructure, to cloud hosted platforms, is not free of challenges. One of the largest of these challenges is that of ensuring that all potential security issues are addressed. Below we take a look at some of the larger security problems that businesses that want to migrate to the cloud, will need to solve.
Challenges Faced When Planning a Cloud Migration
The largest logistical change, when migrating to a cloud platform, is the physical movement of data. Many companies have grown used to being accountable for protecting business critical information. With cloud migration, the location of this data changes. This requires a paradigm shift in a way the business protects its data.
Whilst the enterprise might have plenty of experience managing in-house data security, it may have to relearn how to manage this issue in the cloud. New skills will need to be learned, and new business processes put in place. Failure to implement robust cloud security could result in the exposure of business data to a security breach. Therefore, a firm commitment must be made prior to the cloud migration, to ensure adequate security protocols are in place.
This physical movement of company data may spawn additional problems. For example, the business may be regulated with regard to the geographic location of the actual data. This can lead to complicated compliance issues. Due care will need to be taken during the planning stage, to ensure that no such breech of compliance occurs.
Security Considerations: Cloud versus On-site
Simply moving data and applications to the cloud does not remove the underlying security requirements. What does change, is who takes ownership of the responsibility for maintaining day to day security. In the case of a cloud platform, this responsibility is now shouldered by the cloud provider.
Previously, the business would be working proactively to ensure data security in-house. By managing infrastructure, and following best practices relating to data security and privacy.
This meant that on-site technical staff would be on hand to tackle any potential risks uncovered. It also meant that the actual physical security of the location the infrastructure was housed within, was managed by the company.
The shift to the cloud, sees the business lose its ability to manage both digital and physical security itself. Potentially this could lead to a loss of agility should a serious security flaw be uncovered, that needs to be fixed rapidly.
Adapting IT Security Strategy for the Cloud
As can be seen from the previous two sections, a cloud migration changes IT security at a fundamental level. This means that the business will need to make some sweeping changes to the strategy it has in place to handle data security once a cloud platform has been implemented.
There is a clear need to move away from a technical, hands on approach to managing data security. There will be far less need for technical staff with a skillset to maintain infrastructure security.
Instead, more focus needs to be given to monitoring and management. In effect, the business becomes responsible for oversight of the cloud host. Ensuring that the host is actioning all data security requirements effectively.
Ensuring a Robust Post-Cloud Security Policy
Migrating critical business systems and data to the cloud, means going back to the drawing board with regards to security policy. Most notably, a clear line will need to be drawn between the responsibilities of the business, and those of the cloud provider.
It is where both parties meet along this line, that the company’s IT security policy needs to be most clearly defined. Putting in place processes for monitoring the security practices of the cloud host. Making sure SLA are kept. As well as dealing with services deficiencies that breach the SLA on a case by case basis.
At the same time, the company still needs to take care of internal security policies. This includes things like maintaining a staff awareness program, and also taking care of desktop security.
Overall, migrating to the cloud does remove some of the more technical aspects of IT security. However, this does not mean that the business can stop being proactive about protecting its valuable data. Watch the HOSTING webinar titled “Security Challenge of Migrating to the Cloud” for more details.