Cloud Sprawl and Security Best Practices for Business

Drew Bixby
Read Time: 3 minutes

Businesses are increasingly turning to cloud computing for a broad range of needs. Cloud computing offers more flexibility and scalability than on-premises systems and avoids the high start-up costs associated with building an on-premises infrastructure.

However, when a business moves to cloud computing without a proper plan in place, cloud adoption can turn into cloud sprawl and costs and security risks can skyrocket. For example, Gartner predicts that “by 2020 a third of successful attacks experienced by enterprises will be on their Shadow IT resources.”

Therefore, it’s important for businesses to have a unified, comprehensive strategy for implementing cloud adoption and solutions.

Security Risks in the Cloud

Cloud migration often improves data security, since the provider has experts who monitor the CSP’s infrastructure on a routine basis. However, this doesn’t mean a business is automatically safe. Account management and access control are still important responsibilities for businesses to implement within their organization.

As obvious as it may seem, every account is important including accounts that aren’t directly associated with sensitive information. More widely accessible accounts may serve as gateways to more critical ones, enhancing the security risks. In addition, when accounts are no longer necessary to maintain, it’s important to deactivate them promptly and seek a professional cloud expert’s advice for correct deactivation.

Businesses should be diligent and limit the access of accounts to employees who really only need access to them. Luckily, popular cloud software generally supports role-based access, minimizing the damage if an account happens to be compromised. In addition, one solution to improving account security within an organization is two-factor authentication. Managers should require two-factor authentication for access to sensitive information within their organization.

A Comprehensive Cloud Security Strategy

To minimize these risks, a business needs to make sure all cloud services fall under a well-defined policy and strategy. This doesn’t necessarily mean incorporating a centralized management policy, but it means that each new cloud service should be subject to review and entered into a database registry. Account managers should know what these policies are and make sure users abide by them.

In addition, the choice of which cloud service adopted is an important issue as well. Things can become complicated when businesses are implementing multiple cloud solutions from different providers. Every cloud provider and their services are unique and must abide by different security implementation practices. Thus, when a business wants to adopt a multi-cloud strategy, it’s important that the exact same migration strategy isn’t used for each type of cloud solution. Without a proper cloud security strategy, entire services could be abandoned and left vulnerable.

If your company allows a Bring Your Own Device policy, it needs to be consistent. If employees have unrestricted access from their smartphones, lack of mobile protection can cause a serious security risk. Your company policy should set minimum standards for access from mobile devices.

All cloud accounts should use a consistent system of role-based management. It’s important to differentiate which of your employers should have read-only access and administrative access. Administrative access accounts need to be kept to a minimum and carefully protected.

Finally, access between services is just as important as user access. An application’s access to a cloud-based database or storage service needs to be limited according to need. People who manage different applications but who also work with employees with access to different services need to rely on communication. It’s important to distinguish which services belong to which users within an organization and not just grant access freely to all employees.

Building a Unified Approach

The creation of a consistent cloud security strategy should start well before the actual implementation of new cloud services. A proper cloud security strategy should provide a way to add services when they’re needed and prevent any shadow IT or cloud sprawl.

It’s important for managers to know which cloud services are available and the purpose they service. It is highly advised that company managers consult a cloud expert if there are further questions and for cloud service implementation. Finally, a business’s IT department should know who is responsible for each account since security falls onto the user after the implementation process.

DoubleHorn can help businesses looking to migrate to the cloud or for expert advice on how to manage their cloud services. With DoubleHorn’s expertise, businesses can keep costs down, strengthen data security, and avoid redundancy. Contact us to learn more.