Why are organizations implementing a cloud-first strategy?
A cloud-first strategy comprises of the adoption of advanced IT operations and development techniques wherein enterprises migrate to and control most of their IT workloads and data from on-cloud infrastructure for faster computing, greater flexibility, and scalability.
Initially, SMBs and large organizations were sitting in the middle of the ‘to be or not to be’ soliloquy, which later was accepted by industry leaders as a game changer due to a host of IT operational benefits. Adopting cloud-first strategies became a trend, especially after the post-pandemic years, due to its IT agility, cost benefits, and reliability. A host of services such as virtualization, containerization, microservices, DevOps, and automation ensure a faster build and delivery process for developers, making a strong case in favor of a cloud-first approach.
And despite economic headwinds in many major economies, it is for these very reasons, SMBs and large organizations are continuing with their cloud-first approach to stay competitive and fulfill digital transformation strategies.
Having said that, any organization is bound to face major bumps in its cloud-first journey if the cloud’s security is not given adequate consideration. If there is inadequate security and governance around cloud infrastructure and entitlements (CIEM)– cloud Identity and Access Management space– the cloud-first approach might go haywire. Indeed, while the cloud service providers (CSP) do provide adequate safeguards on the cloud, whatever the cloud model–IaaS, SaaS, or PaaS–the onus of data security and granularity in access control for end users lies with the cloud tenants.
Five aspects that need to be taken seriously for secure and seamless cloud-first journey
No control over Cloud (over)Entitlements or the lack of governance: Management of cloud entitlements is extremely important to secure the cloud infrastructure. There have been instances where organizations create multiple over-privileged identities in the pursuit of adopting multi-cloud environments. Due to a lack of IT visibility, they forget to revoke the entitlements even after the completion of the tasks. As a result, there are over-privileged rights in the cloud environment that increases the chances of unauthorized access and risky over-privileged rights. It can widen the security gaps if there is no timely provisioning or de-provisioning of the entitlements.
With the help of robust CIEM (Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management) solution like ARCON | Cloud Governance, organizations can control over-entitlements through provisioning or de-provisioning identities (or identity groups) by following the ‘Least Privilege’ principle. After all, the goal of the cloud-first approach aims to ensure smoother IT processes.
Absence of centralized policy enforcement & dynamic access control policy: In cloud environments, organizations sometimes show a lackadaisical attitude in maintaining a dynamic and centralized access control policy that widens the security gap. Organizations today must be capable of addressing a growing number of high velocity access control use cases in multi-cloud environments.
CSPs (Cloud Service Providers) have different consoles with different policy enforcements and many kinds of end users’ roles and departments necessitate constant access to cloud services. In such circumstances, if the organization lacks the policy of ‘who is accessing what, when, and why’, then there is a high probability of losing track of which end-user is active for which IT task at what time and for how long. Also, what could be the condition of the IT administrator who is managing different policies for different CSPs? This can result in severe mismanagement of access control policies and possible incidents of insider threats, or data breaches.
A robust CIEM solution like ARCON | Cloud Governance can ensure role-based restricted access to the target systems/applications – that too if it is required. It provides a single interface to manage and control multiple end users in multi-cloud platforms. As a result, a secure cloud environment is established.
No monitoring of end-users: Inadequate and inconsistent monitoring of the end-users could be harmful in a cloud environment. There could be risks of undetected suspicious users accessing critical applications that might not be required at all. If such activities go unnoticed, then organizations might face unprecedented consequences.
Multiple layers in the cloud access management system need to have continuous monitoring of the user access, and their activities, along with a detailed report of those activities. With the help of ARCON | Cloud Governance solution, the IT risk management team can monitor end-user activities in real time. Based on the user-activity reports, the IT security team can continue to restrict/allow suspicious and authorized users for their designated IT tasks.
Lack of anomaly detection: If there is no tool that could detect end-user anomalies in real-time and provide the necessary risk score to the administrators, then, the organization might lack an overview of risk elements in the cloud environment.
ARCON | Cloud Governance provides an AI-based automated anomaly detection capability that helps the IT risk management team with a risk score for every user based on their activities in the cloud platform. It helps them with an overview of riskiness and take necessary and relevant remediation steps applicable to the risk. As a result, appropriate action is taken on time.
Non-compliance: Cloud-first strategy is not just a fundamental shift from on-prem data center to cloud infrastructure. It requires security assessment and compliance verifications thoroughly so that there are no non-compliance consequences in future.
A host of global compliance standards like FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) and NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) have standardized set of mandates to protect citizens, corporate and federal data. Non-compliance with these standards can automatically invite hefty penalties. A robust solution like ARCON | Cloud Governance helps organizations to comply with the mandates through a host of security features and functionalities that ensure data integrity, data confidentiality and data privacy.
Adopting the cloud-first approach is not just a typical shift in the IT operational framework. It includes some of the best practices that organizations must incorporate to secure the end users and their entitlements on cloud. Otherwise, the idea of maximizing IT efficiency and simplifying IT processes will be unsuccessful with lots of bumps in enterprise cloud journey.