enterprisesecuritymag

Cloud Security Amplifying Business Growth

By Chris White, Deputy CISO, Interpublic Group

Chris White, Deputy CISO, Interpublic Group

The influx of humungous amounts of data pertaining to customers, employees, and external stakeholders has elevated the need for its protection. What better way than to migrate and maintain all this data in the cloud, thus creating the most favorable ecosystem for cloud security to thrive. This trend has furthered owing to the increase in cyber-attacks, along with a rise in employee mobility, bring your device (BYOD), and growth of the online market. The transferring of vast amounts of data to the cloud by IT businesses is another vital factor that has brought about a boost in adopting cloud services. In such a scenario, I feel it is most crucial to maintain the same quantum of control and comfort in both the cloud environment and a traditional enterprise environment.

In enforcing cloud security across organizations, cloud providers need to keep in mind where the responsibility and reliability is housed. Even with an integrated managed service provider, the stewardship of the data within the cloud is secured by certain agreements. We also see regulatory norms, contract reading, and framing leading to the cloud service and solution providers being held liable, regardless of whether their functions are outsourced to cloud hosting providers or third-party dealers. In doing so, organizations find themselves in the sweet spot of reducing the extra cost of billing the data centers, administrative expenses, and ensuring that the right practices and procedures are followed to provide utmost data security. Another significant aspect that organization heads need to keep a keen eye on is their engagement in a proper third-party risk management (TPRM) program to ascertain further that the third parties perform the duties they are hired for to their best potential. Apart from the fact that the cloud infrastructure needs to be controlled, it also requires to be financially strong and not hampered by cost offset. An encumbrance can appear in the cloud ecosystem from the perspective of data security.

"Successful business processes can only be executed in a secure fashion, where data protection is the amplifier and technology and content acts as the two wheels that move the business forward, powered by a strong vision"

Furthermore, the increased use of virtual machines leads to difficulty in retrieving required information while maintaining data security. In such instances, it becomes mandatory for industry leaders, such as myself, to ensure proper supervision, control, and tracking of the assets. To strengthen the cloud infrastructure further, it is vital to include an extra sophistication via a virtualization layer to safeguard all the access content and information, which runs parallel to the traditional on-premise assets. Once this is functional, the management of the entire cloud arrangement is outsourced to third party agencies. With additional relationships, newer technologies, and higher variability of the information within the cloud, all industry leaders need to be more proficient in maintaining and managing a cloud environment, effectively.

One of the major hurdles that most CIOs see in the arena of cloud security today is not a technology problem but more of a process problem. Within most organizations, the vendors and third-party organizations often have the buyer and purchase authority along with authority to utilize the cloud space, by using the company’s logo and brand name they are associated with. In light of this, they go beyond the procedures of the organization to explore several web servers and fulfill their job requirements. This results in a breach of security policies pertaining to the company as well as their client data that enforces the need for implementing stronger protection norms, within the cloud. There is thus an increased need on the part of CIOs to monitor and track these out of band, out of policy purchases, that will adversely impact the board of directors as well as stakeholders. It is also important to map out the activities of vendors and appropriately use that information to reduce the frequency and extent of a data breach within the cloud infrastructure. With evolving times, about 29 percent of organizations are prone to cloud account compromises, credential compromises, due to which, organizations should impose more reliable access policies and keep pushing ahead and resolving the problems without getting overwhelmed by its sheer volume. It’s extremely important to keep persevering toward solving the issues at hand with intelligent technologies and smart strategies.

With the vast nature of the security landscape today, having multiple security vendors, the problems within the cloud security arena are varied and distinctive. In that context, it becomes imperative for organizations to analyze the technical difficulties within their infrastructure and find newer ways to automate and improve their functions and offerings, without boomeranging their budget. For most technologists and consultants who approach me, I encourage them first to understand the pain points that exist within their firms and how to solve the security problems efficaciously. What has to be further noted is that security plays a crucial role to enable businesses and not stunt business growth. I firmly believe that successful business processes can only be executed in a secure fashion, where data protection is the amplifier and technology and content acts as the two wheels that move the business forward, powered by a strong vision.

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