Security should be at the forefront of technology professionals all over the world in the brave new world of Big Data. The results may be disastrous if not. The preferred solution to protect customer and other business data was, of course, to move to cloud-based solutions where security is primarily handled by the cloud provider. What many do not realize, however, is that if it is not well planned and executed, migration to cloud services itself entails a risk element. Here are three data security steps that should be at the core of any cloud migration to help keep your organization protected.
- Streamline pre-migration data security
When moving into the cloud, there is a real risk of transferring faulty data-security practices into an environment that can be even more unforgiving than an on-site system. For instance, a faulty user database is one of the most common security flaws that tend to stick around after cloud migration. A thorough review of all user accounts and access rights is critical to ensuring that no outdated credentials or insecure access protocols are in use before migrating any data or systems. With one (or several) cloud providers centralizing business systems and data, a single stray user account could become the Achilles heel of the entire security system.
- Set security boundaries
One of the biggest mistakes many businesses make when moving to cloud services is a fundamental misunderstanding of how cloud security works. Many seem to think that it is enough to partner with a reputable cloud provider to keep their business data secure, but that is only partially correct. Cloud providers are actually responsible for operational and network security, as well as addressing software and hardware flaws in their systems (proprietary business software is a notable exception). But they are not responsible for customer use (or misuse) security issues. Part of the problem is that companies do not set up procedures to handle cloud data security aspects that are not within the provider’s purview. To avoid security issues, it is critical for businesses within their own organizations to delegate responsibility for cloud data security procedures to the right individuals. Limit access for those trained to handle the tasks to critical administrative functions (such as credential control and data storage configuration).
- Plan for proper equipment decommissioning
One of the least planned aspects of many cloud migration projects is how to handle on-site systems decommissioning once their primary operations have moved to the cloud. In fact, failure to properly sanitize, reconfigure, or destroy disused servers and other hardware can pose a huge risk to data security. This is particularly true if poorly secured internal systems fall into the wrong hands. It is critical to review all firewall and security device settings in order to remove any access paths to newly decommissioned equipment and take steps to wipe or destroy any data stored on the affected systems. If the migration involves a large-scale wind-down of on-site operations, turning to a reputable IT asset disposal service that can handle the whole process is usually a good idea. In such a scenario, the ITAD vendor will handle the equipment’s secure wipe and certify that the work was done. That will shield your business from liability in case a problem arises later. The entire procedure could be financed by reselling the equipment, further reducing the total migration cost.
Obviously, cloud migration is not a one-size-fit approach that will ensure data security, but paying attention to these basics is a great starting point. Failure to do so will invite potential security issues of all kinds and could create a data security environment that after the fact is not only risky but difficult to correct. It’s worth paying attention to the details and working for the first time to get things right.