enterprisesecuritymag

Cloud Security - Much More than Active Directory

By Keith Engelbert, Chief Technology Officer, Student Transportation of America

Keith Engelbert, Chief Technology Officer, Student Transportation of America

Traditionally, enterprise IT professionals have relied heavily on Microsoft’s Active Directory (AD) Domain Services as the baseline for building out permissions and access to network resources for the past twenty years. With the success of AD over the same period, competing products have hit the market geared towards Unix and other operating system platforms. This is all great until the new challenges of securing the various types of private, public, hybrid clouds, SaaS applications, on/off premise solutions and mobile products they have hit and continue to come to market from many quality providers of all sizes.

There is a lot more to worry about for IT security admins all over the world trying to minimize the risk of their organization from being the next victim. Even the term ‘network security’ has evolved into a much broader category of strategies rolling up to Cybersecurity now leading the way. The threats have multiplied as enterprises utilize more efficient cloud computing services from the likes of AWS, Azure and Google, diversifying workloads over multiple platforms and applications is a smart approach, and so is the security.

The good news is there is an entire new breed of cyber products and services to filling the gaps for an organization’s security strategy. All these stacks can sit on just about any platform out there and they make the integration easy on IT staff through a strong library of already built and tested application programming interfaces (API). API’s have been the secret sauce to making these robust security products and platforms work together to enhance an organization’s cyber posture.

There are thousands of cyber products on the market, it’s a big field, most enterprises should focus on a couple of areas at first, for example, securing the company email system from phishing attacks. A security program is only as good as the end-users in the organization, providing them the easy-to-use tools to help fight this battle and do not forget about user training and awareness to drive the point home, it’s worth the investment.

"The good news is there is an entire new breed of cyber products and services to filling the gaps for an organization’s security strategy"

The second area is endpoint protection, threat intelligence and incident response platforms. Again, there are many excellent providers on the market today and if an organization does not have dedicated staff today for Cyber, funds should be allocated toward one in the next budget, as it is tough to monitor all the data that is pouring in from these systems to be truly real-time and proactive on threats.

Another area worth looking at is having a cyber insurance policy that fits the needs of the organization. The threats are real and with more and more data and applications that are internet-based, the risk to IT and infrastructure from data loss, financial and intellectual property extortion, denial of service attacks, getting liability coverage is well worth the exercise.

Lastly, even with the talents of the IT security field getting better every day, consider performing a security audit with an independent third-party firm, whether it be some standard penetration testing to a more advanced comprehensive security audit like a Statement of Controls (SOC). It’s better to know weaknesses than regularly talk about strengths, as a staff can say everything is safe and secure but when there is also a third-party firm giving an opinion and validating the current security strategy, an organization is able to build a quicker, faster, stronger security program that can change with the never-ending risk and threats. 

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