As businesses continue to embrace the benefits of the cloud, the migration process presents a pivotal moment for organizations. While the cloud offers scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency, it also introduces several security risks.
In this blog, we'll delve into some common data security risks associated with cloud migration and share what experts think are critical security measures often overlooked and other essential considerations for a smooth, secure transition to the cloud.
Common Data Security Risks When Migrating to the Cloud
Lack of Visibility and Control: Cloud migration might result in reduced visibility and control over data, leading to challenges in monitoring, auditing, and enforcing security measures.
Misconfigured Access Controls: Poorly configured access controls could allow unauthorized users to access or modify sensitive data stored in the cloud, leading to data breaches.
Insider Threats: Employees with improper access or malicious intent could misuse their privileges to compromise or steal data during migration.
Shadow IT and Unauthorized Cloud Usage: Employees might use unauthorized cloud services, leading to data exposure and security risks that IT departments are unaware of.
Account Hijacking: Weak or compromised credentials could lead to unauthorized access to cloud accounts, enabling attackers to manipulate or steal sensitive data.
Data Interception during Transfer: Data transferred between on-premises systems, and the cloud can be intercepted if proper security mechanisms are not in place, leading to data leakage.
API Vulnerabilities: Cloud environments use APIs for communication between services. Attackers could exploit vulnerabilities in these APIs to gain unauthorized access to data.
Data Retention and Deletion: Inadequate data retention and deletion practices might result in sensitive data lingering in the cloud beyond its intended lifecycle, increasing the risk of exposure.
Expert Panel: What Security Measures Are Often Overlooked When Migrating to the Cloud?
Addressing the data security risks above requires a comprehensive approach that involves thorough risk assessment, proper planning, implementation of security controls, ongoing monitoring, and adherence to best practices in cloud security.
As part of our Expert Panel Series on LinkedIn, we asked experts in the modern data ecosystem what they think are the top security measures often overlooked when migrating to the cloud. Here's what we heard...
Pat Dionne, CEO & Cofounder, Passerelle
"Two aspects come to mind: data usage consent and monitoring for abnormal queries. Obtaining data usage consent for certain use cases is increasingly important and often overlooked in the rush to mine data for value. Monitoring for abnormal data queries based on a limits threshold will allow for detecting potential abnormal data usage and can prevent large data leaks."
James Beecham, Founder & CEO, ALTR
"Create a plan to prevent shadow IT! Listen to application and data users to ensure you meet their needs; otherwise, shadow IT will occur. Making a cloud migration plan in a closed room will only lead to problems."
Austin Ryan, Business Development Executive, ALTR
"Setting up an RBAC model and access policies is a great start, but the effort it takes to scale and maintain these policies is often overlooked. Every time you add new roles/users, migrate new data, create a change request, etc., there are manual tasks that typically fall in the laps of your already busy data engineers and slow down your entire organization. It loses much of its value if you can't manage these policies at scale and have secure real-time access to your data."
Damien Van Steenberge, Managing Partner, Codex Consulting
"Get your RBAC together! We often neglect it at the beginning of the project!"
Additional Security Must-Haves for Cloud Migration
Shift Left™ Abilities
Shifting Left means initiating robust data governance and security capabilities as the data leaves the source systems. Doing so ensures the policies are attached to, and remain with, the workload throughout the data journey to the cloud.
Categorize your data based on sensitivity levels, ensuring that highly sensitive information receives stricter security controls. This approach allows you to tailor security measures to the specific needs of each data type, minimizing the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access during migration and cloud operations.
By tokenizing sensitive data before transferring it to the cloud, you replace actual data with tokens, rendering the original information meaningless even if intercepted. This enhances data protection during migration, reducing the risk of exposure and unauthorized access to sensitive information.
Secure any APIs used for communication between applications and cloud services. Implement authentication, authorization, and rate limiting to prevent unauthorized access.
Data Residency and Compliance
Understand the regulatory requirements specific to your industry and ensure that your chosen cloud provider complies with them. Ensure data is stored in appropriate locations to meet data residency requirements.
Data Loss Prevention
Implement DLP solutions to monitor and prevent the unauthorized transfer or sharing of sensitive data. This helps prevent accidental data leakage or intentional data breaches.
Regular Data Backups
Implement a regular backup strategy to ensure that data can be restored in case of data loss, corruption, or a security incident—store backups in separate locations to mitigate risks.
Monitoring and Logging
Set up robust monitoring and logging mechanisms to detect unusual activities, unauthorized access attempts, and potential security breaches. Analyze logs to identify and respond to security incidents promptly.
Incident Response Plan
Develop a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines the steps to take during a security breach. This plan should include roles, responsibilities, communication procedures, and mitigation strategies.
Vendor Security Assessment
Assess the security practices of your chosen cloud provider. Understand how they handle data security, compliance, and incident response to ensure they meet your organization's requirements.
Data Deletion and Retention Policies
Establish clear policies for data retention and deletion. Ensure that data is deleted securely when no longer needed to prevent lingering data from being exposed.
Security Testing and Auditing
Regularly conduct security assessments, vulnerability scans, and penetration testing on your cloud infrastructure and applications. This helps identify and address potential security weaknesses.
Training and Awareness
Provide training to employees and stakeholders about cloud security best practices. Educate them on recognizing and responding to security threats, phishing attempts, and other risks.
Cloud security is an ongoing process. Regularly review and update your security measures, staying informed about emerging threats and vulnerabilities.
Cloud migration can revolutionize an organization's operations, but without adequate security measures, the benefits can quickly become liabilities. Businesses can ensure a smooth, secure transition to the cloud by addressing these security measures. Remember that cloud security is an ongoing effort, requiring regular assessments, updates, and a proactive approach to stay ahead of evolving threats.