Cloud adoption is skyrocketing and there is no doubt about it, with more and more customers realising its benefits: costs, flexibility, availability, etc.
But how about security? Is security a cloud benefit? Well, sort of. By migrating your systems to a public cloud you certainly be assured that the providers are substantially invest on security measures, policies and certifications to guarantee the underlying infrastructure is a safe place for you to store your data and run your applications. But it stops there.
The conversation you should be having with your cloud provider is not if they are secure. They are! They have all the industry standards and certifications to guarantee that. What you should be asking is if they have real-time data, metric and resources to enable and help you to protect your company data.
The security boundaries are limited to the infrastructure of the public cloud. It is your business responsibility to make sure that your application runs safely and your data is protected and some business don’t get it.
Last week when attending a session at the MVP Summit with Brad Anderson about Identity and cloud, I realised how fragile is the conversation that is happening between organisations and the cloud providers – customers are adopting cloud with security in their mind set (In a recent study of IT decision makers by BT, more than three quarters of the respondents (76%) said that security is their main concern when it comes to cloud-based services and). But many of those customers are putting the responsibility to protect their data, solely on the public cloud provider and that is mistake that needs to be addressed.
Let’s take the example of a customer that migrated their email and documents to the cloud: among others benefits, data availability (anywhere, anytime, any device) is in my opinion one of the great cloud realisations. But the data availability also brings a security risk to organisations if they don’t invest on securing and protecting their data from non-authorised access.
Employees who access privileged company data from public Wi-Fi for example are susceptible to all sorts hackers and they have a high risk of having their device compromised. Have you thought about that? Does your company have VPN or other security measures for external access to the company data?
Also, a password only to protect someone from logon on your computer is not sufficient to protect any data you have on it. Is your company making use of solutions to encrypt the local disk? Does your company have policies in place to prevents that company data is not stored locally on your computer?
And how about your mobile? Ransomware is on the rise, with hackers taken over an entire system, holding it hostage until a fee is paid. Take the Whatsapp example – in August 2015, hackers discovered a bug that enabled them to infect devices for those utilising the web version of the app. On another example, you may recall that Lenovo faced trouble earlier this year, when it found that some of its mobiles and notebooks were sold with pre-installed spyware (According to G DATA researchers it happened somewhere along the supply chain by an outside party). The same problem happened with Huawei, Xiaomi and others.
By not having security measures on your mobile, you could let a thief to access your personal and company data if it gets stolen or lost –
- Do you have a pin to protect your mobile?
- Is your PIN strong enough or something like 1234 or 0000 or your birthday?
- If you search yourself on the internet can any of the information led to your password or PIN?
- Is your company using a device management solution?
A couple of months ago, when running a workshop to architect a solution for a customer to migrate their email to the cloud, I heard incredible the request of their IT manager: “whereas cloud concerns, the solution we want should encompass that some groups of employees should only have access to company email if they are physically connected to our network and data access should be protected from unauthorized people and devices.”.
First you will think that in the cloud times, requests to not allow the data from being accessed outside the company network would not make sense and it is a weird request, as one of the benefits of having the email in the cloud is actually being able to access it elsewhere from any device, right? But the reason is simple: they realised that migrating their email to the cloud, did not mean that their security measures and policies to protect their most precious asset: their customer’s data should not be in place. Their request was true and valid and it got me by surprise as a very few customers really understands that security in the cloud is a shared responsibility.
Security is one on the key concerns when a business decides to migrate to a public cloud and although most of them understand that the level of risk mostly relates to the behaviour and culture of their employees, some still don’t have strict policies in place and lack data access controls, which poses a high risk on their main asset: their data.
I have large experience in Security, Cloud and Datacenter Management. Reach me out and we can organize a workshop for your business at firstname.lastname@example.org
More info on the main public cloud providers security compliance:
- Microsoft For Azure : https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/support/trust-center/
- Amazon AWS: https://aws.amazon.com/compliance/pci-data-privacy-protection-hipaa-soc-fedramp-faqs/
- VMware VCloud Air: http://vcloud.vmware.com/au/service-offering/security-overview