Migrating to the Cloud: Security Should Be Your Priority, Not an Afterthought

July 10, 2023

At a glance

  • Main takeaway: Transitioning to a cloud environment will affect the organization’s information security model as service delivery shifts away from an on-premises and physical infrastructure to virtual and software defined infrastructure.
  • Impact on your business: Failing to adapt your security paradigm to match the new virtual capabilities of a cloud environment will place your company’s systems and data at greater risk.
  • Next steps: Aprio’s Digital Advisory Services team can help you establish and transition your security requirements to a cloud-oriented model and guide you through a successful cloud migration.

Are you ready to learn more? Schedule a conversation with our team.

The full story:

As businesses across the globe continue to migrate to the cloud, our security model must also shift because we no longer have resources sitting in physical data centers which means that we cannot rely on the same security models and toolsets for use in the cloud environment. Whether you are thinking about migrating to the cloud, are in the middle of migrating to the cloud, or you have already migrated to the cloud, your security approach must adapt and be tailored to how you plan to use the new cloud capabilities moving forward.

When you migrate to the cloud, your security approach must adapt as well

It is not uncommon for security to become an afterthought once a company migrates to the cloud. Why? Because when most companies make the decision to migrate to the cloud, their focus is on the new and shiny capabilities of setting up applications and then they want to jump right in and start working. While it is natural to be excited about new technology and capabilities, failing to think through what your security will look like now that you transitioned your infrastructure and systems to a cloud environment puts your company at greater risk.

Regardless of the cloud computing service you select — Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), or Platform as a Service (PaaS) — there is a shift in the security paradigm when you transition to the cloud. The old school security model used in an on-premises environment, often used separate groups each responsible for the security of a particular functional area, such as operating systems, network, firewall, etc. The functional approach, with each contributing a particular set of technologies and skills, is simply not adequate to address the challenges of securing your company’s systems and data in a cloud environment.

When you migrate to the cloud, it is important to make the transition as secure as possible. How can you do this? By taking a full inventory of all the services and functions within your current environment and in particular, mapping your security services to the future state security model to determine what those requirements will look like in your new cloud environment. In particular, attention should be made to the transition of individual responsibility areas for security to the new model, understanding that the implementation and management of services may shift to other individuals and roles within the organization.

From a security perspective, identity and access management is crucial.

Whatever stage you are at in your journey to the cloud, it is imperative to address your identity and access management. Since all resources in the cloud environment are virtual, access controls represent the most important mechanism to ensure access to applications, services and data are adequately protected. Therefore, your number one priority when migrating to the cloud should be carefully planning your identity and access management approach. The roles defined within access management system(s) become the mechanism used to enforce all areas of the environment. Meaning that the roles you assign to users, administrators and developers control what they can gain access to and the level of access granted within the environment.

Ask yourself — who needs access to what, how much access do they need and why? Because controlling access becomes more important in the cloud environment, and special attention should be made to the basics of access control often referred to as the triple A (AAA) model. The AAA model represents the fundamental framework for controlling access to systems, resources and data.

The three major framework components for identity and access management that you need to consider include:

  1. Authentication – How will users’ login and where is the information going to reside?
  2. Authorization – What happens after users’ login and how do you determine access is granted once you’ve identified the appropriate users? Roles anyone?
  3. Accounting – How do you track what users are doing once they have gained access?

Access control systems, and in particular the privileged accounts in these systems, contain the keys to your kingdom and are the preferred target for hackers who may want to steal data or interrupt your service delivery. Because of this shift towards the use of privileged accounts by the hacker community, the movement toward Privileged Access Management (PAM), either through your Cloud Service Provider (CSP), or through Identity as a Service (IDaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS) providers may be an important consideration for your cloud migration program.

The bottom line

Every business in every industry needs to ensure they have the proper security in place to protect their company. Migrating to the cloud is a huge undertaking and needs to be carefully designed and implemented otherwise it can significantly impact your security and put your company at risk.

No matter what stage you are at in your journey to the cloud, Aprio’s Digital Advisory Services team has the experience to help you establish security requirements and can guide you through a successful cloud migration.

Related Resources/Assets/Aprio.com articles/pages 

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