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Four Steps to Prepare Your Business for a Secure Cloud Environment

How to prepare for a secure cloud environment

A whopping 96% of enterprises use cloud services, with 61% of businesses having migrated their workloads to the cloud in 2020 alone. Transitioning to the cloud means these organizations have migrated some or all of their data, applications, and infrastructure from on-premises servers and systems to cloud-based platforms and services. Common cloud computing apps include Salesforce, Office 365, Zoom, Slack and MS Teams. Today, cloud computing offers businesses greater scalability, cost-efficiency, flexibility and accessibility. Yet cloud computing also increases the risk of network vulnerabilities and cyber-attacks because identity authentication and access management become far more complex. A poorly configured access management system can lead to data breaches and malware. 

A successful transition to the cloud requires careful planning to ensure a smooth migration process and a secure computing environment. If you are considering a migration or are already mid-process, here are four steps your business can take to prepare for the big move: 

  1. Conduct a Security Assessment: 
    • Employ a professional Managed Services Provider (MSP) to evaluate your organization's current security posture and identify potential vulnerabilities and gaps. 
    • Assess existing security policies, procedures and controls to determine their suitability for cloud environments. 
    • Identify sensitive data and its locations to understand the specific security requirements and compliance considerations. 
  2. Analyze Your Operational Environment: 
    • Document business requirements so you have them on hand when drafting your migration strategy. This may involve gathering input from business leaders and stakeholders and defining measurable objectives and metrics for a successful migration. 
    • Assess whether your internal IT and Security personnel have the ability and resources to support both migration and cloud security initiatives. 
  3. Define a Cloud Security Framework and Strategy: 
    • Consult with your internal IT team or an MSP, like Hughes, who can provide guidance on which cloud security framework best meets the business’ needs. Be sure to confirm that the chosen framework is flexible enough to accommodate both the current and future needs of the organization. For example, does it deliver: 
      • Scalability––Will you be able to handle increasing data volumes and changing demands without disruption? 
      • Interoperability––Can you integrate with other systems and technologies within your organization? 
      • Open standards––Will it be compatible with a wide range of existing and future enterprise applications and services? 
      • A vendor agnostic approach––Are you locked into a single provider or will you be able to choose the most suitable vendor to meet your specific needs? 
    • Clearly define security objectives and strategies, focusing on: 
      • Threat detection––How will you identify potential threats to your cloud environment? Threats may include hackers, cyber criminals, insider risks and accidental incidents. 
      • Data protection––How will you protect data and configure the cloud infrastructure to reduce the threat surface? Additionally, how can you provide comprehensive security training to employees and foster a culture of security awareness? 
      • Access control––How will you control who and what can access the network and then subsequently approve or deny that access? 
      • Incident response––If a breach occurs, how will you mitigate the threat and keep it from spreading throughout your network? 
    • Align your security objectives and strategies to your broader business goals, such as increasing customer trust or creating efficient processes. In this way, you can ensure that the security measures you deploy do not become obstacles to achieving success. 
    • Evaluate the security credentials of the cloud provider by asking the vendor to provide copies of their network security policies, procedures and certifications. You may also request information on any security incidents they may have experienced and how they responded to them. This will help assess their incident response capabilities and ensure that your provider delivers infrastructure protection. 
    • As necessary, confirm that your cloud approach complies with regulatory requirements in your industry. 
  4. Select Your Technologies: 
    • After you have conducted a security assessment, analyzed your operational environment, and defined a cloud security framework and strategy, you should have a clearer view of which technologies can best serve your organization. Since the list may span several different options––everything from firewalls to Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN)––an MSP can help determine the level of cybersecurity that is right for your organization help you to align your technology choices with your business goals, risk tolerance and cloud strategy. 

Preparing your organization for cloud security is a critical step towards ensuring the protection of your valuable data and maintaining operational continuity. By conducting a security assessment, considering your unique environment, defining a cloud security strategy, choosing the right security technologies, implementing strong access controls, and educating employees, you can build a robust cloud security framework. 

Ready to start your journey to secure and resilient cloud operations? Learn more about Hughes Managed Cybersecurity Services.