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How Do I Plan For A Secure Cloud Environment?

Randy Mizzoni, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing

February 16, 2021

One of the most common questions I am always asked about cloud-based systems is how to keep my data secure in the cloud environment? There is a common feeling amongst many senior executives that if they keep all their systems in-house then they must logically be more secure than transferring all that data into the cloud.

Naturally I would disagree, but that is because I have spent years working on these systems – and on many in-house networks. I know that data security flaws and failures can exist on every different kind of system and cloud environment. The best approach is to know where your main weaknesses are located, so you can mitigate the risk.

How do most cloud environment security breaches occur? This recent research published by the security expert Graham Cluley has some good observations:

  • 80.7% of organizations have at least one neglected internet-facing workload - meaning it’s running an unsupported operating system or has remained unpatched for 180 days or more.
  • Authentication issues are also commonplace, with 5.3% of organizations having at least one workload accessible using either a weak or leaked password; 23.5% of organizations aren’t using multi-factor authentication to protect one of their cloud account’s root, super admin users; and 19.3% of organizations have at least one internet-facing asset accessible by way of non-corporate credentials.
  • Almost half the organizations (43.9%) have internet-facing workloads containing secrets and credentials, posing a risk of lateral movement.
  • The security of internal workloads is much worse than frontline workloads, with 77.2% of organizations having 10% or more of their internal workloads in a neglected security state-meaning the OS is unsupported or unpatched.

This is worrying, but it is clear that the same problem causes most breaches of cloud infrastructure. A neglected and unchecked workload is connected to the Internet and allows an initial breach that then results in lateral movement inside the organization – which is made easier by many internal processes not being protected.

Each of these issues can be addressed individually. You don’t leave workloads neglected, you build better internal security so any breach cannot move beyond the initial access, you don’t store confidential information on Internet-facing systems. It’s a focus on building the culture and process of security that a partner like WatServ can manage for you – this is what we do every day.

Other recent research found that 91% of companies increased their data security by moving to a cloud-based solution. This demonstrates the flip-side of the fears. Working with a cloud can be much more secure, not least because the change in approach allows you the opportunity to design new policies and controls. It is the lack of these policies and controls that often lead to data breaches.

The bottom line is that there is no single solution that can offer 100% bullet-proof security, however it is clear that once companies move to a cloud-based approach they are generally more secure because they start taking the controls more seriously. Working with a partner who can help you avoid the pitfalls listed in the bullet points is essential – these are the mistakes you want to avoid from day one.

What is your view on cloud security? Are you still concerned that moving to a cloud would leave you exposed and what are the data security protocols that you have right now that you feel are better than a cloud approach? Please send me a direct message on LinkedIn if you’d like to discuss this further. Would love to hear your thoughts. 

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WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps organizations digitally transform through cloud technologies and managed services.

Serving clients as a trusted advisor since 2006, WatServ provides experience-tested, strategic solutions across all stages of the digital transformation journey. Clients choose WatServ to migrate infrastructure and applications to the cloud, secure critical data, implement disaster recovery, deploy virtual desktop, enable data-readiness for productivity solutions and manage IT environments.

Our clients span a broad range of industries, and we’re a global supplier of IT services for many Brookfield Portfolio Companies. To help our mid-size clients, we provide scalable offerings that simplify cloud adoption and drive business optimization. For enterprise clients, we co-create cloud solutions that enable stability and efficiency for complex IT tools and processes.

With more than 15 years of experience, WatServ has a track record of delivering quantifiable business results and a superior client experience. Ranked as one of Canada’s Top 100 Solution Providers for the last three years in a row, WatServ is always on.

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