While the benefits of cloud such as, improving data access, freeing up internal IT resources for more strategic tasks, cutting costs, and increasing flexibility, versatility, efficiency and economies of scale, are compelling – the risks make many businesses stray away from cloud computing. Perhaps the biggest concern with the cloud is the security of cloud infrastructure.
Well naysayers, no need to fear, a reliable cloud security plan is here!
NaviSite developed a tested and manageable process and checklist on how to develop a successful cloud computing security plan. This plan is outlined in the whitepaper 7 Steps to Developing a Cloud Security Plan (registration required).
According to Navisite, “In many cases the cloud provider can achieve better security results in a virtualized environment than enterprises can achieve internally.” However, even if you choose a cloud service provider with strong security capabilities, it’s important to take an active role in securing your data. Working together with the cloud provider is the best way to ensure the enterprise resources are protected and the cloud is being securely leveraged.
So without further ado, here are 7 steps to a safer cloud:
1. Understand there is no one-size fits all security plan
The first step is gaining a basic understanding of your business goals and the technologies, processes and people available within your organization that can be used to enable the security plan. The best cloud security plans are based on the company’s business objectives and long-term strategies and are built in collaboration with all departments and stakeholders, not just at the executive level.
2. Don’t be naïve – you’re not invincible
Every organization is at risk for data breaches, regardless of where their data is hosted. Therefore, it is essential to develop and carefully maintain a superior risk management program. This program should be “developed centrally and viewed holistically.” In effect, it will help reduce overall risks, as well as provide “an aggregated view of the risk the company is willing to accept.”
3. Define the results you want to achieve
After you’ve gained an in-depth understanding of your business goals and have a risk management program in place to support those goals, you should next determine measurable results that you would like to achieve. Include the goals with measurable results (i.e. five less reported security incidents) in your cloud security plan and make sure your cloud provider is aware of and understands them.
4. Gain support and acceptance from the masses
I say masses because it not only important to gain the support of executives, but the entire company workforce must be involved. The security strategy must be reasonable to implement and not conflict with existing policies or consume too much time. It also helps to establish “levels of security that are centrally managed and conveniently implemented across the company.”
5. Set guidelines to ensure compliance
To ensure that the entire organization fully understands the security program and is driving toward a common goal, establish reasonable and realistic policies, procedures and standards for cloud security. The best way to do this, Navisite claims, is to use best practices to get started. You can always edit afterwards.
6. Check your work
Review your security plan often for areas that can be improved and monitor and report results of the program. You should also audit compliance to the policies and procedures you defined in the previous step. It helps to have a third-party audit compliance to prevent bias.
7. Improve, Improve, Improve
Once you’ve developed a cloud security plan that works best for your organization, you’re work is not over. You’re company will change and so should your security program. You should, at least, annually revisit your security plan with senior executives and your cloud provider and make any necessary changes. Strive toward continuous improvement and share your successes with the organization as well.
So now that you’ve been armed with these seven tangible steps to crafting a successful cloud security plan, you have a lot less to worry about the cloud. If you invest the time to develop a security strategy like this and select a reliable cloud provider, you can enjoy the vast benefits of cloud computing without having to sacrifice the security of your data.
To learn more about the benefits and risks of cloud computing, check out these great articles: