Cloud Security

How to Manage Cloud Security Risks & Cloud Governance

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, cloud adoption and hybrid workforces became increasingly common in Canadian organizations.

While cloud computing provides numerous benefits, such as faster responses to IT demands, cost-efficient, scalability, and resiliency, it also introduces several risks that need to be managed. Compliance violations, insecure APIs, unauthorized or hijacked accounts, external sharing of data and lack of visibility are all risks associated with the cloud.

Top Five Cloud Security Risks 

1. Compliance Violations

Compliance violations are a significant cloud security issue for 42% of organizations. Industry standards for data security have become more rigorous due to the increase in cybersecurity attacks over the years. Data protection regulations such as PIPEDA, PCI DSS, and HIPAA require that organizations demonstrate that they limit access to and protect sensitive data. This is especially important for healthcare providers, law firms, and other industries that harbour large amounts of personal information. Ensuring ongoing compliance by overseeing who can access data and what they can do with that access is an integral part of cloud governance. Without proper security measures, it can be difficult to monitor who is accessing data across the network.  

2. Insecure Application Programming Interface (APIs)

Application interfaces that external users use are another vulnerability associated with cloud computing. Every time employees need to communicate within the cloud; they use an API. Any APIs that are accessible by third parties need to be secured because there is a chance that cybersecurity attacks could threaten them.

3. Hijacked Accounts & Data Breaches

Cloud environments house large amounts of sensitive data, making them prime targets for cyberattacks. Data leakage is the primary cloud security concern for over 60% of organizations. One of the main ways hijackers target cloud data is by breaching user accounts and accessing the information internally. Therefore, access controls, password policies, and two-factor authentication are essential for cloud users.

4. Lack of Visibility

Migrating to the cloud can also decrease the level of visibility that organizations have into network operations. This is because some of the responsibility of managing the cloud will fall onto the cloud service provider. In these situations, network monitoring platforms or managed cloud service providers can help organizations monitor, log, and understand their network operations.

5. Misconfigurations

When migrating to the cloud, organizations should know the scope of work needed to transition efficiently and successfully. Businesses should do their due diligence to completely understand how much work is involved in their transition to the cloud. A misconfiguration of settings in the cloud could lead to a data breach. Cloud infrastructure is naturally designed to be easy to access and share data, making it a prime target for malicious attacks. Organizations should familiarize themselves with good cloud security policies or utilize a managed cloud services provider to guide them through a secure multi-cloud deployment to avoid misconfigurations or security oversight.

While it may seem like there are many security risks when venturing to the cloud, good cloud governance can help mitigate them and create a flexible, scalable, and secure IT environment. Cloud governance is a set of practices that help ensure that cloud operations are efficient, monitored, and used to suit business objectives. Below are the main principles of cloud governance and how they can help mitigate risk.

Cloud Governance Principles

1. Financial Management

When cloud services are used correctly, they can often save companies money, but this only holds if costs are managed correctly. Good cloud governance requires financial management of budgets, cost reporting and financial policies around cases in which managed services should be used or when new cloud services should be implemented. Cloud-managed services providers can help reduce costs and IT strain by storing data in a secure facility at a fraction of the cost. These services can also scale up or down to meet businesses’ specific needs.

2. Security & Compliance

Perhaps the most crucial principle of cloud governance is security and compliance. With cyber security threats growing increasingly common, organizations must be thorough in their cloud security requirements. Cloud governance should consider identity and access management, application security, disaster recovery and backups, risk assessment, and data security. Managed security providers can help organizations analyze their vulnerabilities and adequately implement a strategic security plan to cover all risks across their business.

3. Data Management

The cloud can hold vast amounts of data, making managing that data a significant challenge for organizations. Good cloud governance should specify how to manage data, including a data classification scheme, setting policies for different levels of data sensitivity, encrypting data, and adding controls for each data type. Data management policies should aim to reduce the risk of sensitive data and ensure that the data lifecycle is secure and straightforward so that it is easy to manage.

4. Performance & Operations

Lastly, operations and performance policies can help improve the return on cloud expenditure in the long term. These policies include access control requirements, service-level agreements to define expected performance, resource allocation, and more. Cloud performance and operations management aims to define, monitor and manage cloud, application and infrastructure requirements and performance.

You can book a free consultation with us to learn more about cloud security and how to go about migrating to the cloud safely.

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