A strong cloud network security strategy is the gift that keeps giving—to your co-workers, to your customers and to your entire organization.
Companies often move the cloud in pursuit of optimized costs, enhanced resiliency for mission-critical applications and the ability to scale computing resources on demand. Unless the data that moves to the cloud is properly protected, however, business risks can significantly increase.
Ransomware can lock employees out of their devices. A single data breach can lead to financial loss and damage to an organization's reputation. IT can wind up spending more time reacting to incidents than focusing on tasks that help business growth.
While a cloud network security strategy will never eliminate those risks entirely, it helps make organizations more agile in detecting and responding to threats and more resilient in recovering from an incident.
Fortunately, securing cloud-based environments follow many of the same best practices that have long been used to safeguard corporate and customer data and assets.
1. Understand your risk profile and its consequences
Securing your cloud-based applications and infrastructure starts with understanding your business and security goals. These will become clearer when you evaluate how security incidents could affect the business.
How much would a data breach cost your organization, for instance? What would downtime mean in terms of lost productivity and customer confidence? How much time is currently spent identifying potential vulnerabilities and applying the necessary fixes? What kind of compliance or governance processes need to be considered?
The more detailed your assessment, the easier it becomes to prioritize action items and allocate the necessary resources.
2. Map your perimeter and access points
Intruders can enter a cloud-based environment through a wide variety of attack vectors.
You can more effectively secure your environment against attackers by clearly identifying the endpoints that, if compromised, could affect several clouds. You might need to change how certain devices access the network.
From there, look for ways to improve how data traverses the cloud. Apply encryption where possible, including both data at rest and in motion.
3. Create and apply smart policies
Part of protecting endpoints is developing policies that can be automated. You could ensure that data is regularly backed up or moved into a secure area of the cloud, for example.
Other policies will need to focus on how people access and control cloud-based systems and applications. You could require multi-factor authentication to log in to certain tools, or you could restrict applications and data to people in specific roles.
4. Provide training and schedule routine audits
Security training must evolve alongside threats. Just as employees once needed to be taught not to click on suspicious links in emails, they will need to be taught good habits for collecting, storing and managing cloud-based data.
Training and audits are not one-time activities. You will need to continue auditing your cloud-based IT systems to confirm that services are properly configured, that necessary upgrades have been made and that vulnerabilities have been patched.