Cloud Security Is Different

The move toward the Cloud for data and services has many companies rethinking their approach to cyber security. Recent surveys have shed light on how security strategies are changing, and more important, how they should change. 

Placing more IT infrastructure in the Cloud is in some ways more secure than having it in-house. Not least, users can be reasonably confident that the system is running the latest version with the proper patches in place. 

 

Cloud service providers are also building in new capabilities such as using machine language for anomaly detection, however it also presents new risks, some of which is the result of misunderstanding how to manage their security in the Cloud.

For more than a decade, security leaders have predicted that a disastrous event  was in prospect that would dramatically change society as we know it.  Now the Coronavirus pandemic is having a global impact, affecting the environment, industry, finance, healthcare, leisure and almost every other human endeavor. The acceleration of digital transformation, which changes how organisations operate and provide value to their customers is just one example of this. There is also an increased demand for cloud computing, which provides most of the foundations, tools and infrastructure to fuel the digital transformation. 

The Benefits Of Cloud Computing Include:

  • Shifting business models from Capex to Opex: allowing companies to pay only for the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS resources that they use, using service-based payment instead of asset purchase and often resulting in significant cost savings.
  • Scalability: where computing, network and storage capacities can be increased and decreased almost infinitely and almost immediately in response to fluctuations in demand.
  • Agility; where developers can make continuous improvements to applications and these improved applications can be deployed to customers, multiple times per day.
  • High availability: disaster recovery and redundancy is improved by cloud vendors who provide uptime SLAs and multiple geographical availability zones.

The most important benefit is to allow companies to focus on their own business, while leaving the overhead of their non-core business elements, like infrastructure, platforms and software, to cloud vendors.

This acceleration in digital transformation and demand for cloud computing is occurring because of the impact of remote working that prevents businesses from functioning  normally and having to quickly adapt their processes to stay in business.

Indeed, it is quite possible that companies are enjoying some of the benefits of remote work and will encourage more widespread and long-term remote work after the pandemic has ended.

  • E-commerce boom: During the lockdown, online shopping spiked, especially for food and other essential supplies. Online retailers generally use cloud-based solutions that are scalable; business can continue as normal during the demand spikes.
  • Home entertainment: Netflix is reporting twice as many new subscribers as expected in Q2. This is an expected outcome of closed cinemas, theatres and restaurants, although it remains to be seen whether home entertainment will maintain its attraction after the pandemic has passed.
  • Healthcare: The primary concern during the Coronavirus has been medical. Remote access to doctors and medical assistance was often the difference between life and death, and we can expect this remote access trend to continue after the pandemic is behind us, albeit with less urgency. Cloud benefits like scalability and redundancy are vital to support this effectively.

Business continuity during the pandemic has been dependent on cloud computing, as many users have found that having the option to quickly ramp up capacity has been the difference in being able to run their  business and going out of business

While IT spending in 2020 will slow significantly due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is possible that public cloud computing will benefit significantly from the long-term impact of the pandemic due to some of the trends mentioned above.

Cloud Usage Is Growing Alongside The Need For Cloud Security:

  • The growth in cloud computing means that more companies are putting more data and applications online, which attracts threat actors and cyber-criminals, eager to benefit from the potential to make easy money through various cloud cyber security schemes.
  • Boredom may be a factor in the increase of cloud cyber-crime, when vast numbers of people are stuck at home and the Internet is one of their only connections to the outside world.
  • Remote work, increased home entertainment, remote healthcare and a larger "online footprint" cause different patterns of network access and increases the potential attack surface.Home networks are generally less safe than an  office network and its a problem to access business-critical applications and data using a potentially unsecured home network connection.
  • The rapid and unplanned quarantine and remote workforce has resulted in security shortcuts. When faced with the dilemma of "quick and dirty" or "slow and steady", some companies chose the quick route, intending to retrofit stronger security measures after employees started to work remotely. 

Exploiting an unplanned or poorly executed  adaptation to remote working without an integrated security strategy is the first thing that a hacker will be looking out for.  So how can organisations speed-up, while staying safe?

  • Consult a trusted cloud security advisor: In order to benefit from industry best practices and architect cloud security into the design.
  • Prevention is the only option for cloud security:  Cloud security detection exposes organisations to risky and expensive cloud security threats which cause real danger well before the threat can be managed.

A study of cloud security carried out KPMG has report showed that 66 percent of survey respondents believe that traditional security solutions either do not work or have limited functionality in the cloud. 

In a post-pandemic world with accelerated cloud computing, a remote workforce, dynamic network access and more attack vectors for cloud threat actors, good security in the cloud is critical. 

NCSC:      IT News Online:      GovTech:      CSO Online:      Cloud Security Alliance

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