Circle Opinion

7 Steps to Strong Cloud Security

Charlotte Day


Demand for cloud-based offerings has accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the importance of flexibility and agility now being realised. Without adapting, businesses risk being left behind, but what are the benefits and how do you know if it’s the right solution for you?

We shared the key advantages of cloud adoption and challenges in cloud security in our previous blogs.

In our final article in this series of blogs, we share the key steps to strengthen your organisations cloud security.

As more businesses adopt cloud technology, primarily to support hybrid working, cybercriminals are focusing their tactics on exploiting vulnerable cloud environments. Last year, a report found that 98% of companies experienced at least one cloud data breach in the past 18 months up from 79% in 2020. Of those surveyed, a shocking 67% reported three or more incidents.

This issue has been exacerbated by soaring global demand for tech talent. According to a recent survey, over 40% of IT decision-makers admitted to their business having a cyber security skills gap.
It’s a vulnerable time for enterprise organisations, and cloud security is the top priority for IT leaders. Here we consider the critical steps you can take now to make your business safer.

1. Understand your shared responsibility model

Defining and establishing the split of security responsibilities between an organisation and its CSP is one of the first steps in creating a successful cloud security strategy. Taking this action will provide more precise direction for your teams and mean that your apps, security, network, and compliance teams all have a say in your security approach. This helps to ensure that your security approach considers all angles.

2. Create a data governance framework

Once you’ve defined responsibilities, it’s time to set the rules. Establishing a clear data governance framework that defines who controls data assets and how data is used will provide a streamlined approach to managing and protecting information. However, setting the rules is one thing; ensuring they’re carefully followed is another – employing content control tools and role-based access controls to enforce this framework will help safeguard company data. Ensure your framework is built on a solid foundation by engaging your senior management early in your policy planning. With their input, influence, and understanding of the importance of cloud security, you’ll be better equipped to ensure compliance across your business.

3. Opt to automate

In an increasingly hostile threat environment, in-house IT teams are under pressure to manage high numbers of security alerts. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Automating security processes such as cybersecurity monitoring, threat intelligence collection, and vendor risk assessments means your team can spend less time analysing every potential threat, reducing admin errors and more time on innovation and growth activities.

4. Assess and address your knowledge gaps

Your users can either provide a strong line of defence or open the door to cyber-attacks. Make sure it’s the former by equipping the staff and stakeholders that access your cloud systems with the knowledge and tools they need to conduct safe practices, for example, by providing training on identifying malware and phishing emails.
For more advanced users of your cloud systems, take the time to review capability and experience gaps and consider where upskilling or outsourcing is required to keep your cloud environments safe.

5. Consider adopting a zero-trust model

Based on the principle of ‘Never Trust, Always Verify’, a zero-trust approach removes the assumption of trust from the security architecture by requiring authentication for every action, user, and device. Adopting a zero-trust model means always assuming that there’s a breach and securing all access to systems using multi-factor authentication and least privilege.
In addition to improving resilience and security posture, a zero-trust approach can also benefit businesses by enhancing user experiences via Single Sign-On (SSO) enablement, allowing better collaboration between organisations, and increased visibility of your user devices and services. However, not all organisations can accommodate a zero-trust approach. Incompatibility with legacy systems, cost, disruption, and vendor-lock-in must be balanced with the security advantages of zero-trust adoption.

6. Perform an in-depth cloud security assessment

Ultimately, the best way to bolster your cloud security is to perform a thorough cloud security audit. Having a clear view of your cloud environments, users, security capabilities, and inadequacies will allow you to take the best course of action to protect your business.

7. Bolster your defences

The most crucial principle of cloud security is that it’s an ongoing process and continuous monitoring is key to keeping your cloud secure. However, in an ever-evolving threat environment, IT and infosec professionals are under increasing pressure to stay ahead of cybercriminals’ sophisticated tactics.

A robust threat monitoring solution can help ease this pressure and bolster your security defence. Threat monitoring works by continuously collecting, collating, and evaluating security data from your network sensors, appliances, and endpoint agents to identify patterns indicative of threats. Threat alerts are more accurate with threat monitoring analysing data alongside contextual factors such as IP addresses and URLs. Additionally, traditionally hard-to-detect threats such as unauthorised internal accounts can be identified.

Businesses can employ myriad options for threat monitoring, from data protection platforms with threat monitoring capabilities to a dedicated threat monitoring solution. However, while implementing threat monitoring is a crucial and necessary step to securing your cloud environments, IT leaders must recognise that a robust security program comprises a multi-layered approach utilising technology, tools, people, and processes.

Get your cloud security assessment checklist and the best cloud security strategies in our comprehensive guide to cloud security.

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Charlotte Day