As companies increasingly shift their essential systems and data to the cloud, the safety of these assets during the transition becomes a significant concern. The migration journey – to and from various cloud services – is fraught with security vulnerabilities, especially when dealing with public cloud services. These vulnerabilities, if not addressed properly, could lead to damaging outcomes. This can range from unauthorized access to sensitive data and interruption of business operations to potential regulatory fines and reputational damage. In this article, we delve into the prevalent security risks businesses encounter during cloud data migration and provide valuable insights into best practices for circumventing these threats.

Cloud Migrations are Risky

Navigating the intricacies of cloud migrations can be tricky, especially when considering the potential security risks involved. According to a recent report, global cloud investment has grown by an impressive 20.7 percent in 2023 to $591.8 billion, up from $490.3 billion in 2022. In practice, companies often have comprehensive security strategies and tools before and after cloud migration. However, the intermediate state of data, applications, and infrastructure during the migration process can pose a significant threat to the security and integrity of these valuable assets.

For instance, transferring data from on-premises storage to a cloud environment is a critical phase where security vulnerabilities can be exploited. Although these assets are usually protected in their original and final states, they might not be adequately secured while in transit. This can create opportunities for hackers to intercept sensitive information, leading to potential data breaches or loss.

Moreover, traditional security tools might not be efficient in safeguarding assets during this intermediate state. An example is business logic abuse, where conventional security measures, such as Web Application Firewalls (WAFs), struggle to identify and respond to sophisticated threats. These threats often do not conform to typical attack patterns and can span across multiple API calls over one or more sessions. This complexity makes it challenging for security teams to detect and counter threats in real-time.

To mitigate these risks, security professionals may consider using modern cybersecurity tools or solutions to provide more comprehensive protection. For example, security measures should not only focus on known vulnerabilities and attack patterns but also on predicting and identifying potential threats. Advanced solutions can also analyze patterns across multiple API calls and API sessions to detect and block more sophisticated threats. This way, they can help to secure assets during the vulnerable intermediate state of cloud migration.

Best Practices for Secure Cloud Migration

According to a recent study, IT professionals reported 20 percent in overall cost savings after migrating to a cloud environment. Cloud migration undoubtedly offers many benefits, including reduced overhead, enhanced efficiency and operational streamlining. However, this task is complicated and demands meticulous planning, a good understanding of your current system and a strategic migration process.

To ensure a secure and successful cloud migration, consider these best practices:

  • Clear Vision of IT and Business Overlap: IT and business objectives should work in harmony, focusing on shared goals and priorities. Cloud migration can catalyze digital transformation, driving agility and innovation while aligning with business objectives.
  • Outline a Cloud Governance Model: This model should not only establish rules for cloud usage but ensure quality of service, interoperability, automation, and the ability to adapt to changes. It should also address potential management issues and security concerns during cloud usage.
  • Early Staff Training: This will empower your team to maximize cloud utilization effectively and confidently. Training should also address potential gaps in knowledge and resistance to change, thus ensuring a smoother migration process.
  • Consider Operational Processes: Remember that operational workflows may need to be restructured or automated to align with cloud capabilities. Planning for these changes can ensure seamless business operations post-migration.
  • Know Your IT Assets: Assessing the compatibility of IT resources with the cloud environment is crucial for ensuring efficient cloud performance. This will help your organization avoid potential misalignment in cloud investments and reap maximum benefits from your cloud migration.
  • Select the Right Partner: The right cloud partner can provide strategic guidance and support throughout the migration process. They can assist in ensuring alignment between cloud investments and business goals to maximize cloud usage.
  • Start Small: Starting with less complex applications allows you to test the waters and validate your strategy while building confidence among stakeholders to migrate to more complex applications.

Securing Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Migration

As we move towards cloud-hosted services, businesses may come across potential roadblocks in securing data, both in hybrid and multi-cloud environments, as well as traditional on-premises settings. This situation requires us first to question: what method are we using to capture data? This has become more intricate with the rise of cloud-hosted services, which differ significantly from traditional on-premises methods. Therefore, it’s crucial to think about what works best operationally and in terms of integration. It’s not just about gathering raw data and storing it effectively. That’s not the real goal. What’s more important is the ability to merge data from different sources, get a complete view across all data repositories, and interpret it for better data security.

Additionally, simply meeting compliance standards doesn’t guarantee strong data security. Security teams need to use large amounts of raw data to improve the signal-to-noise ratio at the database level. This process lets us extract valuable information that can be analyzed to strengthen security further. It’s also essential to align with solutions that allow quick adaptation to new data security techniques and strategies, especially for cloud-hosted services. These solutions, often built into cloud systems, make it easy to extend on-premises controls into the cloud.

Indeed, cloud migrations present unique challenges, particularly regarding data security. During migration, the intermediary state of data, applications, and infrastructure can expose them to vulnerabilities, making them susceptible to cyber threats.

However, companies can significantly mitigate these risks by implementing best practices for secure cloud migration and securing hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. IT professionals can benefit by remembering that while ensuring data security during cloud migrations may seem challenging, it is possible with the right strategies and tools. As such, cloud migration remains a viable and secure option for businesses seeking to leverage the benefits of the cloud.