Cloud services play a key role in the digital transformation and operation of modern enterprises. However, security teams are often being left out of planning these initiatives, increasing the level of risk an organization is facing. Security is an integral part of adopting cloud services, without being a barrier to innovation.

Cloud Adoption Is Accelerating

More and more enterprises are migrating their data and applications to the cloud. Businesses can choose from a variety of cloud setups, ranging from public and private to multi and hybrid, while they may elect using either one or all the cloud-based services (IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS). The variations in implementations and environments create a level of complexity for IT security teams to monitor cloud services while keeping them secure.

At the same time, cloud technology is becoming increasingly complicated: organizations aren’t just investing in cloud infrastructure but also taking advantage of cloud-native technologies such as containers, orchestration tools and serverless architectures to further improve efficiency and decrease costs. On top of that, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the adoption of cloud-based solutions and services. The pandemic changed everything. Suddenly, organizations had to pivot in the face of extraordinary pressures and unexpected challenges.

The Critical Role Of The Security Team

In the face of such great challenges, it would make sense for security to be an ever thought in all strategic discussions. However, this is not always the case. It is not uncommon that security is considered as a barrier to change and digital transformation initiatives.

This stance is not totally unjustified. Security teams are often known as “naysayers”: “No, it’s not possible to securely deliver a new cloud service within such a tight timeframe. No, we’re not able to guarantee that this service has the desired levels of security.”

These barriers are at odds with the enterprises’ desire for innovation to minimize costs, disrupt their markets and gain competitive advantage. As leadership teams are embracing a cloud-first mindset, the split between operations and security teams has become more severe.

Challenges With Cloud Adoption

If cloud workloads are not properly configured or protected, organizations are faced with new risks. Configuring cloud instances often requires complex and specialized knowledge and training. An individual lacking the foundational skills on cloud security can easily configure something incorrectly or have a false sense of security when weak security controls are implemented. These mistakes can result in cloud deployments being vulnerable to data breaches leading to regulatory penalties if customer data is left exposed.

Additionally, many organizations fail to test cloud implementations as robustly as they would for on-prem deployments. Security teams must be involved in the processes testing the security of cloud developments and have proper oversight of their organization’s cloud services. These processes need to be incorporated in the overall corporate security program and not treated as a separate silo.

While the mechanisms for cloud security differ from those of traditional on-prem deployments, the end goals of risk mitigation and compliance are the same. The risk resides with the CISO and their security teams to translate them and implement risk reduction and compliance requirements in the cloud.

To minimize risk and maintain continuous compliance throughout the hybrid corporate infrastructure, a holistic and unified approach is vital. That is why it is crucial for the CISO to be involved in all digital transformation initiatives and cloud migration activities from the planning stages, through implementation and ongoing management, working closely with all involved stakeholders.

Effective Cloud Migration Planning

With cyber attacks becoming more sophisticated and adversaries leveraging AI and machine learning to target businesses and data, the effective, cloud ready CISO should have the skills and knowledge within the team to secure the corporate journey in the cloud. The following is a non-exhaustive list of the tasks an effective security team must perform:

  • Understand the business processes and objectives to become a trusted adviser for all security, risk, privacy, compliance, and data-integrity needs.
  • Develop strategies to avoid risks against fraud, data loss, and threats.
  • Implement information security policies and practices for employees, customers, partners, data, applications, and infrastructure.
  • Develop detection, response, remediation, and notification programs for new and emerging threats.
  • Ensure security teams understand and adhere to the Shared Responsibility Security Model for cloud services and service providers
  • Assist in assessing all third-party providers who might have access to corporate information, especially sensitive data.
  • Work with regulatory and legal teams to define and implement processes and technology to help meet compliance requirements.
  • Develop and enforce corporate security standards, policies, and technology stack.
  • Define and manage vulnerability, configuration, and patching programs with IT and DevSecOps teams

IT and security professionals may have some experience in some of these tasks, but not the advanced technical skills and knowledge necessary to apply best practices in cloud security architecture, design, operations and service orchestration.

It’s A Full-Time Job

Cloud security is not to be taken lightly, it is a full-time job and expertise in your business is vital. Just as security professionals once grappled with the challenges of on-premises data, cloud-based protections are equally, if not more challenging.

But to truly understand the ever-evolving cloud and how to secure it, attaining the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) can help back up that experience with an extensive understanding of the Cloud and how to secure it.

How CCSP Can Help

The CCSP certification arms IT and information security leaders with the knowledge and competency to apply best practices to vendor neutral cloud security architecture, design, operations and service orchestration. The certification demonstrates that CISOs and their teams are on the forefront of cloud security.

The CCSP is a global credential that represents the highest standard for cloud security expertise. To learn more about how the CCSP credential can help you gain expertise and advance your career, download our white paper Cloud Security Skills Can Take Your Career to Infinity (And Beyond).

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