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Securing Your Cloud Transformation Journey with Smart Cybersecurity Investments

Securing Your Cloud Transformation Journey with Smart Cybersecurity Investments

Blog Article Published: 06/27/2022

Written by Syam Thommandru, VP, Global Alliances and Product Management, Cybersecurity & GRC Services, HCL Technologies and Vinay Anand, VP, Prisma Cloud, Palo Alto Networks.

There is no denying that cloud is the new norm. As a critical enabler of business during the pandemic, more businesses have begun their cloud migration journey. And, while they can now tap into new opportunities, they are also besieged by new cloud transformation challenges. The new compute landscape exposes new and additional vulnerabilities, and digital transformation. Every change brings with it new challenges and the cloud is no different. With enterprises shifting to a cloud-first approach, it becomes imperative for them to adopt a comprehensive approach for their cloud security.

In this blog post, we will discuss the trends and drivers of cloud migration, the starting point for enterprises, and the common challenges, as well as how ROI on cloud investments can empower businesses while ensuring security.

Cloud security: A business imperative

A report from IDC shows that global enterprises are spending billions on compute and storage services for cloud infrastructure, including dedicated and shared environments, with an increasing pace of 13.5% YoY in Q4 ‘21 alone. Similarly, Gartner reports that 85% of enterprises are shifting to a cloud-first model by 2025. It’s become increasingly obvious that a shift to the cloud offers significant competitive advantages to most businesses. From reduced IT costs and enhanced flexibility to greater innovation and increased efficiency. However, these benefits come with certain caveats.

And as billions of dollars in investment flow toward cloud adoption, we can expect to see a radical and exponential increase in the threat landscape of digital enterprises. Simply put– more digitalization will lead to more cyber threats. In this regard, there is virtually no distinction between public or private cloud options since security lies at the heart of any IT architecture. Instead, becoming cloud-first changes how organizations prioritize their efforts toward security.

The key difference is how much more acute security concerns are, given the highly dynamic environments of cloud operations that are typically prone to a multifold threat landscape. In a cloud setup, the range of “unknown knowns” combined with a lack of total control creates genuine risk. Cloud security is no longer an IT concern but a business imperative, where leaders must revisit their attitudes to cloud security strategy and align it with a new, dynamic IT-integrated business approach.

Navigating the challenges

We believe that gaining visibility of your cloud transformation journey and its associated aspects is among the top challenges in your cloud security strategy. In fact, the top three concerns shared by leaders include:

  • Lack of visibility of data in the cloud
  • Poor controls over data and data accessibility
  • Ensuring adherence to regulatory compliance

Over and above these, they are also faced with the persistent challenge of preventing cloud-native breaches and internal threats. Under these circumstances, enterprises face the problem of coping with an unknown threat, from an invisible vector, which can make comprehensive cloud security overwhelming.

For instance, for every 4,000 misconfiguration incidents, only 40 are being reported which indicates that 90% of the misconfigurations are going unnoticed. Besides, with hybrid work models trending, another area of concern is to understand how rogue employees with access to the cloud and its tools can become a threat to the organization.

Initiating your cloud security journey

So, how should organizations start their cloud security journey? It begins by building a deeper knowledge and understanding of the native environment. The dynamic cloud environment becomes increasingly complex for enterprises using multiple providers. Hence, it becomes crucial to get visibility into your technology, applications, CSPs, and OSS tools and get a good inventory of your assets in the cloud and all entities you connect with/depend on. Enterprises must ensure that their assets in the cloud comply with internal and industry regulatory standards. This is ground zero and provides a baseline.

The next step is to protect your key assets– your data, your identity, and your workloads. This will help you introspect your threat landscape and detect any weakness in your ability to protect your assets. Based on these, develop a security playbook for a robust and effective security architecture. A security playbook is a written and visual benchmark that guides enterprises on how to configure and secure operations and activities within the cloud.

The Investment Checklist for Cloud Security

The importance of budgetary allocation for cloud security is as follows:

  • Critical asset identification and classification
  • Priority applications, priority data, and priority environments within the cloud–plan for security, recovery, and business continuity
  • Cyber awareness of employees
  • Investing in smart cybersecurity technologies like AI and ML

Toward the future of cloud security

There is an increasing need and a trend toward creating a zero-trust environment across cloud models. This is in stark contrast to the conventional perimeter security model and demands the elimination of preferential privilege. For instance, Palo Alto Networks’ Zero Trust Cybersecurity approach is rooted in the principle of “never trust, always verify”.

Zero Trust has been developed to safeguard modern cloud environments and promote digital transformation. It uses robust authentication methods, leverages network segmentation, intercepts lateral movement, enables layer 7 threat prevention, and simplifies granular, “least access” policies. Reinforcing learning-based automation is the second cloud security component that is here to stay. The wide array of informational vectors has sped up the need for AIOps, applying heuristics, adapting ML, and paving the path for a more automated way of understanding what’s going on and responding proactively.

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