The internet is awash with compelling statistics on the explosive growth of cloud computing. A stat most relevant for this article is that 83 percent of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. So, if you’re not already using the cloud, rest assured your business is highly likely to adopt it soon.
For businesses planning to adopt the cloud as part of their IT infrastructure, it’s imperative to draw up a comprehensive cloud migration strategy. You can’t afford to take such a radical shift in business operations lightly and it needs to go smoothly.
One of the main cloud migration strategy challenges is the task of securing important business data during its transfer from on-premises data centers to the cloud and reinforcing that security when the data ends up in the cloud. Ceding control of business data to a third party naturally causes some trepidation; however, this shouldn’t be seen as n insurmountable hurdle to move to the cloud and realize its benefits. This article offers five useful security tips for your cloud migration.
Perform Due Diligence
Migrating to the cloud represents a significant investment in both money and time. It’s crucial to begin on the right foot by doing your homework on cloud providers and evaluating their security policies.
Read the specific policies and procedures in place at various cloud providers that aim to secure data both in transit and in the cloud infrastructure. The title of a Forrester research paper says it all: ”Due Diligence is the Cornerstone of Public Cloud Migration Success.”
Due diligence, in the context of security, also means mapping out the different risks so you understand them clearly, such as malicious network interference for data in transit. You also need to know your data well enough so that you can identify where the most sensitive data currently resides.
If you are in a heavily regulated industry such as health or ecommerce, the probability is high that you must follow strict industry regulations relating to where sensitive data is held and how it’s secured. HIPAA and PCI DSS are two examples of such regulations.
Cloud vendors such as AWS provide services that can help you comply with industry regulations. Prioritizing compliance also entails shifting toward cloud-based approaches that help to protect sensitive data and align with these regulations. Identity and access management and incident response systems can aid you.
Additionally, don’t forget to enforce the principle of least privilege to protect your most sensitive data. Cloud users should only be given the necessary access to data that enables them to perform their jobs. A surprising number of regulatory breaches occur by hackers accessing and compromising low-level accounts that have been given more access to sensitive data than they should have.
Encrypt Sensitive Data
Data encryption is crucial not only to comply with regulations, but also as a general prudent security measure when migrating to the cloud—particularly for your most sensitive data. While most leading cloud vendors provide encryption options for data at rest in their systems, it’s just as important to have the data encrypted during transit.
You can achieve such encryption and requisite security for data in transit by using encryption gateways, which protect your data before it gets to the cloud.
Conduct a Phased Migration
It’s good practice not to attempt to migrate everything at once. Because you’ve hopefully already segregated/categorized your data sufficiently, you’ll know which data is mission-critical, most sensitive and not mission-critical.
A phased migration means testing the waters with an initial movement of your less important data to a cloud storage system. This data is still valuable to your business; however, your business’s operations don’t depend on it and it is not sensitive in nature.
By doing things in phases, you minimize the impact of downtime, technical issues or other security problems that arise during this initial phase. You also get to evaluate the security of your cloud host’s systems before taking the bigger step of moving sensitive and mission-critical data there.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
While practices such as the principle of least privileges can protect data, you should also take the further step of enforcing two-factor authentication to reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your mission-critical data stored in the cloud. Two-factor authentication requires the use of two separate methods of identification to gain access to restricted cloud storage or applications.
The issue of security is an understandable obstacle for the ever-dwindling number of businesses yet to make use of the cloud. If you are still deliberating over how to securely migrate to the cloud, you can incorporate these five steps into your migration strategy as a guideline.