Cloud Migration Security Challenges and Mitigation Strategies- Is your company thinking about moving to the cloud? Cloud computing has undoubtedly grown in popularity in recent years, as has the number of cloud service providers. The process of migrating digital corporate processes to the cloud is known as cloud migration. The procedure resembles a physical transfer of data, programmes, and IT processes from a local data centre or legacy infrastructure to the cloud and back.
Businesses are rapidly embracing cloud strategies to take advantage of the technology’s benefits, which include cost savings, flexibility, security, mobility, enhanced collaboration, quality control, sustainability, and automatic software updates. Digital transformation is the top reason driving higher cloud usage today, according to 63% of IT experts. Security is the most important worry for firms that operate local data centres, according to 66% of respondents.
Cloud Migration Types
- Migrating from on-premise to cloud computing entails moving data, apps, and other business pieces from an on-premise datacenter to a cloud computing environment. According to experts, businesses will move 83 percent of their workloads to the cloud this year.
- Cloud-to-cloud migration occurs when a company moves its workload from one cloud platform provider to another in response to changing business needs. This form of cloud migration enables a company to move cloud computing providers without first migrating its data and apps to in-house servers. The expense of transferring data from one cloud to another should not outweigh the advantages of switching to a new cloud service provider.
- Reverse cloud migration, also known as cloud repatriation or exit, is a scenario in which a business migrates apps and data from the cloud to an on-premise IT infrastructure or datacenter. On security and control concerns, firms typically migrate part or all of their company information and applications from the cloud to a local data centre. Other businesses are returning to an on-premise IT environment due to the cloud’s high prices. A Fortune 500 business withdrew from the cloud, citing a monthly cost savings of $80 million.
Cloud Migration Security Challenges
When a company decides to move its activities to the cloud, it faces a number of security risks.
Data Exposure, Loss, and External Attacks
Businesses lose data and files throughout the transfer process due to incomplete, corrupt, or missing files. Insiders are targeted by hackers who want to steal valid credentials that allow them to freely travel about cloud storage in pursuit of important data.
Phishing emails are used by hackers to spread malware infections that lead to data loss. They use social engineering to gain access to passwords for crucial company systems and databases.
In some circumstances, companies that move their apps and data to the cloud provide consumers authorization to access sandbox environments, effectively creating new attack surfaces and unauthorised access. Users may, for example, open a network address translation (NAT) gateway from a hybrid networking environment while migrating from a local data centre to Amazon Web Services (AWS). This step, however, opens the door to a cloud server employing the NAT gateway to download harmful content such as malware from remote sources.
Insider Threats and Accidental Errors
Employees could potentially make mistakes during the migration process that corrupt, destroy, or expose business data. While transferring workloads from tightly restricted in-house systems, an employee may unintentionally share files containing confidential information. In addition, the cloud migration process exposes data and applications to insider attacks from the following sources:
- Unscrupulous employees or partners that mishandle and steal confidential information and install unauthorised software
- To send information, an insider agent or an employee operating on behalf of external hackers. An outside actor hires and pays the employee to steal data.
- A unhappy employee who destroys company data in order to harm and disrupt business operations.
- An employee who is attempting to steal company information for personal benefit.
- An inept service provider who jeopardises security by misusing, neglecting, or allowing unwanted access.
According to a study, financial incentives motivate 47.8% of malevolent insiders, whereas espionage is responsible for 14.4% of deliberate insider attacks. The easiness of stealing data is made possible by an imprecise cloud transfer process.
Lack of Resources
According to a poll done in the United States and the United Kingdom, 31% of small and medium businesses claimed a lack of internal expertise to meet cybersecurity demands. Furthermore, 27% want to be able to use advanced security technology to combat sophisticated cyber-attacks. Budgets must be set aside to purchase the most up-to-date instruments required to establish a defense-in-depth security posture. During the migration process, the solutions also require a professional team to design and manage defences for the network, endpoints, and information.
Regulatory Compliance Violations
Businesses make modifications to applications and data during the cloud migration process. Most enterprises lag behind in putting in place controls to ensure that cloud service configuration updates are secure and compliant.
Shortcutting Security During the Migration Phase
CSPs offer powerful management consoles that allow enterprises to deploy a cloud service by simply clicking a link and adding cloud-based infrastructure. This technique, on the other hand, might mislead enterprises that rush into a new IT environment without first considering the security risks. There have been far too many new attack vectors and non-compliance problems reported by organisations.
Performing an All-At-Once Migration
The largest mistake businesses make is attempting to migrate everything to the cloud at the same time. Many firms are ready to change to the new IT environment once they have received executive approval to embrace the strategy, rather than prioritising data and applications to transfer first.
When providers leave APIs unpatched and unsecure, they might create grey zones in the cloud computing process. They, in effect, expose lines of communication that hackers can use to steal vital corporate data. Securing APIs is an afterthought that gives cloud providers a false sense of security. In 2018, at least a half-dozen high-profile data breaches were caused by insufficient API security. Providers and users such as Strava, Panera, Venmo, USPS, and Salesforce were impacted by insecure APIs.
Cloud Migration Security Mitigation Measures
This collection compiles professional advice on the best security mitigation controls for firms considering cloud adoption or migration.
Baseline the Security Before Migration
Many firms have a security architecture built around isolated security devices, inconsistent security policy application, and fragmented security strategy management. Companies deciding to migrate their applications and data implement tools to secure both in-house and remote environments, which exacerbates the dilemma. In such cases, an organisation must control security sprawl and adopt a centralised security policy by taking the following steps:
- Please analyse and comprehend your present security posture, as well as the consequences for your business objectives.
- Check to see if the company has appropriate policies and processes in place for the current and future IT environments.
- Conduct a gap analysis to see how a cloud environment may affect security.
- Determine how a cloud-based network would affect overall risk management.
Similarly, to ensure that recommended security controls satisfy performance needs, a company should model and understand data flows and bandwidth requirements. The baseline for the current environment should also include a map of existing roles and responsibilities, as well as the staff needed to transfer and operate workloads. To save money and time, businesses should also filter out useless data.
The security team should maintain contact with the cloud service provider to inquire about their security standards and compliance procedures. The method entails regular communication with the third party in order for the two teams to stay informed about any evolving changes or security threats. Organizations should find out if the cloud provider conducts regular audits and reviews of their system and organisation controls.
Apply Adequate Security During the Migration Phase
During the cloud migration process, cyber criminals will hack corporate systems and steal valuable information. As a result, depending on the apps and information transmitted to a cloud service, security teams need employ a variety of security controls. A next-generation firewall (NGFW) solution, web application firewall, security information and event management solution (SIEM), intrusion detection and prevention service (IDS/IPS), and a cloud access security broker are some of the data protection solutions that a company can use (CASB).
Businesses must also ensure that security solutions and policy enforcement are consistent during the migration period, which spans different environments. They should, in fact, choose appropriate security solutions that work together flawlessly across the whole lifespan. For example, security staff should guarantee that data is encrypted both at rest and in transit in their organisations. When information is exposed to the Internet, it is at its most vulnerable. As a result, enterprises should employ secure transport protocols like HTTPS to transfer data and applications from on-premises servers to the cloud. Businesses may also consider using an appliance to move their workloads. It is recommended, however, that the tool encrypts data before it leaves the on-premise data centre.
During the cloud migration process, security teams can use decoys or deception papers to help a company uncover hackers and insider leaks. This control notifies security experts when a breach or unexpected user behaviour is detected. Furthermore, decoys can fool a hostile actor into believing they have stolen valuable information while accessing a convincing phoney document, similar to a honeypot.
When possible, a firm migrating to the cloud should use multifactor authentication to prevent password leaks (MFA). When employees access distant information and applications, security professionals add a policy that asks them to validate their identity via a text or email sent to their devices. When a hacker tries to access cloud profiles using stolen credentials, MFA warns users.
Furthermore, businesses should make certain that cloud providers incorporate security into the API development process. APIs are increasingly being utilised by users to better integrate heterogeneous cloud applications, including external programmes sourced and used by cloud providers and clients. Unfortunately, API vulnerabilities are difficult to discover and address, necessitating the use of specific tools and knowledge. Enterprises should demand API Security Gateways that follow basic secure product architectural principles, such as:
Self-integrity health checks that scan and detect malicious activity, a secure and dependable operating system, an integrated PKI engine, independent security certifications that validate the product’s security, and independent security certifications that validate the product’s security.
Proper Setup and Protection of User Identities
Users should not be given authorization to introduce new attack surfaces or access to sandbox environments when migrating to the cloud. Maintaining an exact and full copy of data allows a company to quickly address data exposure faults and loss by restoring files and systems to their previous state.
Businesses that are shifting to the cloud should restrict data and application access points. Allowing multiple employees access can lead to a user enabling global permissions, exposing data to open connections. In this instance, a business should be aware of who and what has access to cloud-based data and apps. Furthermore, security personnel should keep a close eye on all cloud connections.
Assuring that the cloud computing service adheres to all applicable cybersecurity regulations
What security and data privacy requirements must your company follow when migrating workloads to the cloud? Before using cloud services, businesses should be aware of the compliance consequences. This is especially important if a company operates in a highly regulated industry like healthcare or finance. Organizations’ storage, encryption, backup, and transfer requirements should be determined by security teams.
Compliance certifications for common legislation such as PCI-DSS, GDPR, and HIPAA are available from almost all major cloud service providers. Even with these accreditations, businesses should encrypt or omit personally sensitive information before shifting to the cloud. Certain restrictions may compel businesses to maintain certain types of data only on-site.
Establish Proper Logging and Monitoring
Businesses transitioning to the cloud should implement proper logging, monitoring, and security analysis in the cloud, especially when moving data and applications from on-premises servers. They should look for basic script faults that could interrupt business operations or expose security flaws that hackers could exploit. During cloud migration, automation techniques introduce unanticipated annoyances that businesses should solve. Security teams can set up granular monitoring and control of cloud resources. SIEM (security information and event management) is critical because it allows users to centralise alerts and tracking while also adding analytics, automation, and machine learning to discover and flag anomalous activity. By analysing activity to develop a standard user profile for an employee and the device they use to access cloud resources, user analytics and monitoring tools can help discover breaches faster. The monitoring system promptly provides a warning to security teams if any action deviates from the user profile expectations, suggesting the presence of an outsider.
Data Backup before the Migration
When moving apps and data from on-premise data centres to the cloud, companies should back up their data in many locations. A complete backup and restore solution for cloud workloads allows a company to restore business processes in the event of problems during the migration process. In essence, a business can employ a third-party backup service that includes features like data recovery, backup to a different cloud provider, an easy-to-use solution, automated processes, expandable storage, security certifications, and data privacy protection.
It’s not as simple as transferring bytes into a selected storage type to move workloads to the cloud. Before beginning the copying, the migration activity necessitates thorough planning. Identifying and prioritising data and applications is a useful technique to avoid problems caused by moving everything at once. Businesses can then consider a gradual migration to allow security employees to become more familiar with cloud security concerns and solutions. In this instance, they can begin migrating low-priority apps and redundant data to allow security teams to test setups and identify and fix security flaws before transferring sensitive data and systems.
Cloud vendor lock-in can be avoided with a phased migration approach. A cloud service provider’s first expectations are usually high. However, after beginning the migration process, businesses may learn that a provider lacks the appropriate security policies to protect sensitive data and applications. If a firm moves everything to the cloud, switching providers becomes time-consuming and expensive, forcing the company to continue with a single provider who does not match their security requirements. Migrating a workload in stages allows a business to test the capabilities of the cloud provider and compare their findings to the migration goals.
Implement a Disaster Recovery Strategy
According to a 2019 survey, 96 percent of businesses experienced at least one outage in the first few months of cloud usage. These disruptions were caused by a variety of circumstances, including hardware failures, power outages, software problems, data corruption, external security breaches, and unintentional human errors. Seventy-five percent of small and medium-sized firms do not have adequate disaster recovery strategies in place. While shifting to the cloud, another 39% of SMBs lack an incident response plan to deal with unanticipated security risks and data breaches. By 2021, 59 percent of businesses would use cloud-based disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), according to the report.
In addition to security concerns, most businesses are concerned about the availability of a cloud environment while transitioning to a new IT system. During the transfer process, a firm must have an appropriate disaster recovery strategy in place to ensure availability, performance, and the safety of business data and applications.
According to a research, only 45 percent of companies make formal security awareness training required for all employees. Optional training programmes are available in 10% of businesses. Only 6% of businesses provide monthly training, while 4% provide quarterly training. Only 10% of the 24 percent of companies with formal training programmes deliver training on a regular basis, according to these results.
Employees should be educated about the security concerns associated with cloud migration. Furthermore, the team in charge of the project should be aware of the necessary access and integration needs with on-premise systems. During the workload transfer window, this method assists an organisation in identifying and addressing the weakest penetration. In a changing and adaptive industry, businesses should not cease investigating and learning. Employees should be aware of the most recent vulnerabilities and developments in the cloud. When it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT), for example, businesses only see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to comprehending the technology’s dangers and mitigation strategies. Organizations should, in fact, invest in cyber threat research and training in order to secure emerging technologies.
Businesses should be aware of the shared responsibility model used by cloud service providers. The level of responsibility that users bear is determined by the cloud services that they acquire. Cloud providers provide dependable tools and services to help enterprises deal with cloud security issues.
Outsourcing Security Roles to an MSSP
To manage the transition from a local data centre to the cloud, a company needs a different set of capabilities. Creating a cybersecurity programme and hiring the necessary professionals to develop and maintain it may be expensive, and it often necessitates the purchase of expensive and specialised hardware and licencing. Furthermore, during the relocation period, organisations require sufficient time to train internal staff to deal with security challenges.
In these circumstances, a company might work with a managed security service provider (MSSP) to supplement its cybersecurity strategy with outsourced staff, procedures, and technology. Outsourcing security requirements to an MSSP provides better data and application protection, lowers costs, allows a company to focus on other tasks, and manages any problems that arise. MSSPs keep a cutting-edge set of security technologies and methodologies that security specialists have used across a variety of enterprises confronting diverse dangers during cloud migration trips. They provide cost-effective security operations centres as a service and cyber threat hunt operations that make use of new technologies and capabilities such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and threat intelligence.
Finally, a successful cloud migration should include transitioning to a new IT environment with an adequate security posture. Organizations should not be fooled by the benefits of cloud computing and the convenience of cloud management promised by providers into compromising security when migrating data and apps to the cloud. Preparation is essential before embarking on the cloud migration path, as it protects a business from unforeseen cyberattacks and allows for successful cloud adoption. The procedure necessitates a company’s attention and resources in order to install suitable controls to detect and respond to security issues that arise during cloud migration.
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