Man tapping on virtual gear mechanism showing security considerations for cloud migration

Top 5 Security Considerations for Cloud Migration

Cybersecurity has always been a matter of concern for businesses across the globe. Analysis by researchers at cybersecurity company Digital Shadows found that highly sensitive information is stored alongside other data in publicly exposed or misconfigured online storage and cloud services, including SMB file shares, rsync servers, and Amazon S3 buckets.

The research suggests a 2.3 billion figure which marks a 750 million increase in data exposure when compared with the Digital Shadow’s Photon Research team’s previous analysis. The analysis report which was issued early last year claimed over 1.5 billion files were exposed.  The comparative analysis of both the consecutive years’ report suggests nearly a 50% surge in the exposure of critical files to the high-level risk and most of which is due to poorly configured storage.

The Too Much Information: The Sequel report details some of the most glaring cases of sensitive data being left exposed. It includes 4.7 million medical files being publicly available, with the majority being DICOM (DCM) medical imaging files; 4.4 million of these were found to be exposed which is nearly double of last year’s figure. Almost all the data breaches logged nowadays are pertaining to misconfigured cloud resources. Migrating IT assets to the cloud is an integral part of IT optimization strategy which is effective for business operations. It facilitates efficiency in operations and improves business agility.

Today, the ever-evolving IT landscape calls for a flexible and dynamic business operating environment. Having a highly optimized IT infrastructure will help embrace digital transformation, scale business operations, and accelerate the overall growth of the business. So, taking into account the growing business requirements, the foremost consideration for organizations opting for cloud migration would involve having a sound information security system in place. Migrating infrastructures, applications, or services require a careful understanding of the security implications. Cloud-based deployments have significantly changed the security paradigm and further requires organizations to deploy a consistent security framework that spans the entire cloud infrastructure.

Organizations that plan to embark on the journey of cloud migration, should first gain a clear understanding of the process involved in cloud migration. So, for a better understanding of our readers, we will be covering the top 5 security requirements that should be considered for a safe cloud migration in our article. Below is an important security checklist that will provide a clear framework for cloud security and successful cloud migration of IT infrastructure. The checklist strongly focuses on essential cloud security that can help businesses translate between solutions deployed in different cloud environments efficiently.

Baseline security controls

Most of us are aware of the immense benefits cloud computing offers in terms of accessibility, scalability of applications, and low infrastructure and maintenance costs. Yet organizations must be wary of the challenges that come along with it, particularly in context to network or IT infrastructure security. When initiating a cloud migration, it is important to understand the complexity that arises in the process as a result of many different roles, functions, and capabilities associated with the approach. It is also essential to understand and learn the implications of the process that affects the existing rules, regulations, and compliance policy. For these reasons organizations need to have relevant security control policies and procedures in place before they plan to move to the cloud.

The organization must have a central security strategy in place to ensure policies and procedures that are implemented for secure access to information across the different cloud environments. The unified policies drawn out should govern access and control, regardless of whether the security gateways and services being used are located onsite or in the cloud. This is absolutely critical since organizations often suffer high-level security breaches due to obsolete, misaligned, or ineffective policies in the context of cloud security controls. Necessary measures need to be taken as a high priority for establishing and ensuring unified policy enforcement across different environments whether accessed onsite or in the Cloud. This is essential for those looking to securely migrate to the cloud. Having a strong security stance of the IT infrastructure goes a long way in preventing disruption or a major impact on a distributed, cloud-based network.

Consider bandwidth requirements

One of the key challenges of cloud migrations is determining and specifying bandwidth requirements of cloud-hosted applications. When operating from an in-house data center, the network requires a minimum of 100 Mbps with a Gbps inter-server connectivity. However, on Cloud Migration, all of it completely changes, depending on the tier, package, and local internet bandwidth all of which may be less than 2-10 Mbps. An organization would for these reasons need to model and understand the data flow for considering appropriate bandwidth requirements for their IT infrastructure.

This is absolutely essential for it will ensure whether or not the organization’s security solutions will meet performance requirements for cloud migration. Cloud-hosted applications should meet performance requirements and if not, it will result in latency and unmet business application requirements. Having an incomplete understanding of the bandwidth will not just limit the potential benefits of cloud migration but also have a huge impact on the performance of security solutions implemented for securing IT infrastructure. Determining bandwidth requirements must be taken into serious consideration prior to initiating your move. It is suggested that the organizations use network modeling tools for evaluation of your current application performance and identify areas for improvement before cloud migration. This will help you determine the necessary application requirements and further facilitate better performance.

Consider regulatory and compliance requirements

Another important aspect that needs to be taken into consideration prior to cloud migration is determining the regulatory and compliance requirements when the data gets processed and stored or transmitted between different cloud and physical network environments. From a broader perspective, regulatory and compliance requirements help organizations draw out a clear roadmap for a secure IT infrastructure migration. For example, in many countries, there are restrictions on where the financial data can be stored but, on a cloud, unless specified otherwise, data can be in India today, in Singapore next week, and in the UK the day after. However, this leads to regulatory and statutory violations. So, having the right strategy in place will help organizations stay compliant and secure their Infrastructure. However, it is important to note that the regulatory and compliance strategy established should be flexible enough to adapt to new requirements. For these reasons, an organization must consult its legal team especially professionals who are aware of the legalities from the IT angle before taking a plunge into the decision of cloud migration. We also suggest a consultation with experts in the industry to understand the legal implications and possible adaptation to new, stricter regulations that may reduce the possibility of falling flat when the changes happen. Not having the necessary regulatory and compliance requirements in place can put your organization at risk of legal battles and litigations.

Application of right security solutions

The next important element of consideration for cloud migration is determining the security gaps in the current system and accordingly implementing the right security solutions. An organization has to consider deploying the right security solutions for cloud-based business operations. Strengthening network and IT infrastructure security are crucial for business. When it comes to cloud security it is not just about simply placing a firewall at the peripheral of the cloud Infrastructure. From a security standpoint, it will include a process of a comprehensive analysis of the current policies, procedures, contracts, terms and conditions, and security standards that are in place. Depending on the finding and current security stance, the organization will have to implement numerous security tools including Web Application Firewall, Intrusion Prevention, and Detection Systems, PIM, Dual Factor Authentication, and Cloud Access Security Broker to name a few. The organization will also have to look into the existing security programs and accordingly revise it as per requirement. This would possibly include implementing risk management, change management, business continuity and disaster recovery plans, Incident handling, security assessments, security awareness and training, programs for secure and successful cloud deployment.

Lifecycle management

Ensuring there is consistency between security solutions and policy enforcement across multiple environments is crucial for business. Security solutions and programs to be implemented should easily operate in both native cloud platform, and other environments as well. Ensuring seamless operation is critical for business scalability. By consistency we mean, having in place security policies, provisions, and a single point of integration with a central system. Implementing a unified policy and solution requires the deployment of lifecycle management that brings consistency across the environment without compromising on security functionality and business operations. More importantly, when it comes to the information stored processed or transmitted on the cloud measures like user rights reviews, logging and monitoring of audit trails, encryption of data, vulnerability assessment/penetration testing, periodic secure configuration assessments are taken seriously. Since the repercussions are severe typically in comparison to a lapse when hosted in a local data center, security measures are taken seriously. Organizations need to consider adopting open standards, and cloud connector technology to translate between solutions deployed across different cloud environments. Application of lifecycle management is the key to standardizing operations and security solutions for a hassle-free business operation.

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Final thought on security consideration for successful cloud migration

Adding a new cloud-based Infrastructure may seem deceptively easy. However, when it comes to security, one needs to consider its implications. Secure cloud migration can only be achieved by taking into account essential security requirements. Careful consideration of the above-mentioned security elements will help in building a secure cloud Infrastructure. Security consideration during cloud migration will surely go a long way in helping organizations establish a highly secure IT Infrastructure and effectively compete in today’s new digital landscape.

Key takeaways
  • Understanding the complexity of the cloud migration process and its security implications is very important.
  • Establishing a baseline security control with relevant security frameworks is essential.
  • The need to implement consistent policies and security solutions to address challenges.
  • Considering regulatory and compliance requirements as per industry standards are essential.
  • Bring in flexibility in operations and policy implementation is important for the overall growth and development of business.