The cloud has changed the business landscape by enabling collaboration on a completely new level, which has resulted in massive leaps in creativity and innovation.
Companies can now build teams of highly qualified professionals without worrying about geographical limitations.
Organizations no longer need to invest heavily in IT hardware, which implicitly leads to a reduction in associated maintenance costs. Yet, they can still take advantage of all the latest advances in software, while redirecting their savings to driving innovation.
The problem is that, in their rush to take advantage of all the benefits of the cloud, many organizations have overlooked one vital aspect – security. It's often treated as a hot coal, with organizations throwing the problem in someone else's lap. At least, until a major problem occurs.
Cloud security statistics are quite shocking. For example, only 7% of firms have good visibility of all their important data, while 58% say they only have a slight degree of control. Furthermore, 80% of security breaches are caused by issues with privileged credentials.
LogicMonitor's Cloud Vision 2020: The Future of the Cloud Study shows that 83% of company workloads will take place in the cloud by 2020, with 41% of workloads being conducted on public cloud platforms.
In other words, organizations need to get a better handle on cloud security, especially since the majority of their workload will be carried out in the cloud. Though some firms feel that cloud security should be the domain of the provider, this approach simply doesn't hold water in today's environment.A data breach could be far too costly to rely on a third party to handle your cloud security, especially if you don't know what and how much they can handle.
Cloud Security and Offshore Software Development Projects
If many organizations experience problems with cloud security internally, this problem is even more significant when it comes to IT outsourcing projects. After all, if an organization has left its own cloud security in someone else's hands, it seems unlikely they will consider cloud security for their IT outsourcing team to be their responsibility.
In fact, many organizations treat their IT outsourcing teams as completely separate entities, which is not the most effective strategy. To get the best results, your software development outsourcing team must be an integral part of your company.
In terms of cloud security, this means applying the same best practices across the board in your organization, including your IT outsourcing team.
The following steps will help you improve cloud security in your organization.
Ensure Effective Security Awareness Across the Entire Organization
Most data breaches are the result of human error, which can take the form of poor access control, falling for phishing attacks, misconfiguration, or any other mistake. While providing training is certainly essential so that your entire team has the skills and information to avoid as many mistakes as possible, it's often not enough.
The problem is that people will continue to make mistakes, especially if they don't understand the consequences. There's also the issue of the "it can't happen to me" syndrome, usually brought on by people getting comfortable.
The longer nothing happens, the more comfortable people get, leading to an increased likelihood of shortcuts.
At PLS, we feel that a combined approach is the most effective. First, security awareness training is vital, but it shouldn't be a one-and-done approach. Instead, people should attend "refreshers" regularly.
It's also important to test people. Arbitrary mock attacks can be used to not only test your employees' knowledge and awareness but also to keep them on their toes. This approach serves as an excellent reminder that letting one's guard down can lead to disastrous results.
Gain Complete Visibility
As a company grows, it will acquire and adopt new tools, which have to be integrated with the original systems. It will also develop relationships with various new vendors and partners.
Thus, it's the norm for a company to operate within a hybrid cloud environment, with their data spread out among a variety of third-party cloud services and on-site servers.
Unfortunately, this leads to a highly complex system that can make obtaining full visibility challenging. If you don't have complete visibility and you haven't mapped the whole environment, there's no way you can secure it.
Make Security Part of the Discussion from the Beginning
Security is often tacked on at the end of a project, with the security team having to strong-arm development and operational teams into adopting different processes. Of course, this leads to problems as people rarely like change, especially when they perceive that change as making their life more difficult.
However, if you bring security in from the beginning, it will make things easier for everyone. This will be especially useful because your security team won't be attempting to implement measures in a system that wasn't designed with security in mind.
Though it might not always be possible, it's still vital that you try to include security in the discussion as early as possible. Ultimately, this can help your teams to start creating secure systems and applications from the beginning of the development lifecycle, not just an afterthought at the end.
Just like you update and monitor individual workstations to protect against threats, you also need to constantly monitor your entire network. You need to provide new information regarding possible threats on a regular basis.
You also need to ensure that data is encrypted at all times, that access is monitored and controlled closely, and that problems are found and fixed as soon as possible.
Ensure that any behavior that's out of the ordinary is flagged and analyzed to avoid unauthorized access and to identify possible malicious agents.
Rely Only on Your Own Organization
Data is sensitive and a breach could lead to disastrous results, including fines and loss of confidence in your organization. That can have devastating impacts on an organization. Which is why you simply can't afford to rely fully on a third party and should be monitoring and testing cloud security at all times.
Remember, shifting your data to the cloud doesn't transfer responsibility for security to the cloud provider. It's still your responsibility, which means that you need to be very careful in choosing who you work with. It also means informing them of your expectations in terms of compliance.
There is much more to be covered when it comes to cloud security, especially when connected to IT outsourcing projects. However, applying the above while treating your IT outsourcing team as an integral part of your organization will certainly help.
Want to learn more? We'd be happy to explain in more detail!