How to master cloud security and migrations

New technologies are always a challenge. Learn here the basics on how to master cloud security and migrations.

Fidel Chaves
9 min read

What is the cloud?

Companies are now working on how to master cloud security and migrations. The cloud proves time and time again to be a cost-effective way of scaling computing power and storage, dissipating doubts from business owners. The thing is, how do we handle the migration of millions of bytes of data in a secure way?

 

Even if companies have widely assumed that their challenges in the short term need to be aimed at speeding up their digital strategy, change is hard for most. Many had already implemented it some time ago, and others jumped to it urged by the global crisis brought by COVID-19. The working paradigm has changed. Therefore, companies also needed to change how they provided their teams with the necessary resources. And, in this new scenario, the cloud is the biggest star.

 

On the physical part, the cloud is made up of servers in data centers worldwide. You could even go to any data center that makes this system work, most of which are huge rooms where all the processing gets done. In any case, transferring data to these locations can be a titanic investment for long-standing companies.

 

According to many, the three fundamental investments companies need to make are related to digital transformation, cybersecurity, and cloud migrations. This last statement is as crucial as it is complex; since a migration always implies potential risks of information losses or wrong configurations that could result in data leaks.

Cloud environments: public, private, or hybrid

As we said, the cloud is a system that can store information and offers processing capabilities. Cloud environments can be public, private, or both, depending on the type of infrastructure, who owns the hardware, and how it is managed. If you want to dive deeper, you can read our article on cloud infrastructure. Let’s look into them briefly:

Public cloud

The service provider hired is responsible for the resources and the management of these resources. In this case, all hardware, storage, and network devices are shared with other clients, and information is accessed online.

Private cloud

The client, or whoever they choose, is still responsible for the resources and the management of these resources. These are not shared with third parties. Connectivity depends on the location.

Hybrid cloud

It is a combination of both. For instance, by turning to a hybrid cloud model, a company can use the private cloud for specific services and the public cloud for others, or it can use the public cloud as a security backup for the data stored on its private cloud. The implementation method always depends on each organization's needs.

 

Having considered the different options in cloud environments, let’s look at how to carry out a secure cloud migration.

How to carry out secure cloud migrations

Before taking on a project of this caliber, it is necessary to review what to consider before planning a migration. There are a set of key facts and strategies in order not to compromise your data.

The three strategies for cloud migration

Rehost

 

Rehost is the most agile and simple model to carry out a migration. It consists of replicating the current system in the cloud environment. However, it is more likely to create problems, as any inefficiencies and faults will also migrate along with the system.

 

Replatform

 

The replatfrom scheme entails modifying the applications to adapt them to the new cloud environment, making it necessary to turn to partners with experience in application architecture and source code.

 

Refactor

 

Refactor is the most advanced and expensive method, as the applications need to be redesigned to become cloud-native. Refactoring means getting all the benefits of the cloud, the two most relevant being flexibility and scalability. But it requires a lot of programming experience and time, as well.

Five keys for a secure migration

We have talked recently about cybersecurity, and cloud migration does not escape this topic. There are a set of steps you can take into account before making the migration that will reduce the probability of leaks and security breaches down the line.
 

  • #1 Define the migration architect: this person will make the technical decisions. This role includes several responsibilities, such as defining the type of refactoring needed to achieve the migration, designing strategies, establishing the cloud solution requirements, and setting the migration priorities.
  • #2 Plan a phased migration: it helps the team become familiar with the cloud. Ideally, the first data to be processed should be those with low priority to keep risk under control and test the security configuration and parameters before transferring any confidential data.
  • #3 Understand the regulations: it is essential to evaluate which mandatory requirements apply to your data to avoid penalties. That is a fundamental aspect in industries governed by solid standards that need to comply with specific requirements in data managing. A private cloud will appear as the most logical choice in those cases.
  • #4 Encrypt the data: in any migration, data must be encrypted (both at rest and in transit), and transfers must be carried out under secure protocols such as HTTPS.
  • #5 Understand the shared responsibility model: in the cloud environment, the service provider is responsible for the security "of" the cloud, while the client is responsible for the security "on" the cloud. Which responsibilities are the client's, therefore, depends on the type of service chosen: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or the above-explored Software as a Service (SaaS). In each model, responsibilities between providers and clients are shared differently.

How to improve public cloud security

Security is a concern for IT professionals, as you can see in our cybersecurity article, and cloud security is no exception. Cloud security is a shared responsibility between the client and the service provider, and there are many things to be on the lookout for.

 

As we said before, the migration of data and other digital assets to the cloud has sparked one of the most important revolutions in the IT universe in recent years. But it has also fueled one of the biggest concerns for companies right now: how to keep information private and secure when the chosen environment is the public cloud.

 

In a recent survey conducted by BitGlass, 33% out of 350 tech professionals from all over the world have admitted to being extremely concerned about the security of the public cloud, whereas 40% claimed to be very concerned. Even though public cloud security is still a sensitive matter, almost half acknowledged that software hosted on the public cloud is as secure as software housed in a private environment.

 

Let’s review some recommendations and tips to improve public cloud security.

Recommendations & tips to improve public cloud security

As mentioned before, cloud security is a shared responsibility between the client and the service provider, enforced by the major public cloud provider. Regardless of the platform, the client will always be responsible for protecting their data. (And who will watch the watchmen?)

 

The first precautions are related to choosing and hiring the provider. Some key aspects need to be taken into account. Most of all, it is essential to check the default settings that are made explicit in the Terms and Conditions, something which very few read.

 

  • #1 Understand where the data will be hosted. That means checking if the country offers guarantees as to its protection.
  • #2 Understand if there are any third-party companies involved in the service management, so to agree to that.
  • #3 Make sure if the confidentiality of the information is guaranteed.
  • #4 Check if there are any guarantees for a secure data deletion when requested or when the service contract is finalized.

 

Full visibility

To get the most security on the public cloud, you first need to make sure to have visibility into the entire cloud-based infrastructure, including configuration, API calls, and user access. You cannot control what you cannot see.

Password security

As with any other services or products in the digital environment, password security is key to preventing attacks or information theft. When setting passwords, people tend to choose those they can easily remember, making them more vulnerable, which is not good. The human imagination is limited when it comes to passwords.

 

Passwords need to be well-thought to provide security: more than nine characters, uppercase and lowercase, digits, and special characters.

Encrypted data

Today, anything can be encrypted, from a text document to entire drives. And there are several applications to encrypt and decrypt files and data. Encryption is no longer a tool exclusive to security experts: it must be used daily. When someone illegally intercepts an encrypted file, they will barely make out a set of illegible characters, even though they can open it.

Classified information

One alternative is to classify the information to determine what will be hosted on the cloud or not. Not every piece of information needs to have the same security parameters. Establishing a classification of the data presets how the information will be uploaded to the cloud without reviewing every action. That way, no one will upload the wrong information.

An updated security system

Having top-grade antivirus software is critical. Currently, you can have antivirus software running on the cloud, too, to save disk space on any device. Antivirus can detect any trojan, spyware, or virus since its database is constantly updated through its online connection.

 

At Awkbit, we know that dealing with private, public, or hybrid cloud solutions can be a challenge. Especially considering how the technological landscape evolves by the nanosecond. Adding security and fast ways to transfer and migrate data on top of that can be a daunting task, especially for a non-technical team. So we can help out, we stay up to date with the latest on cloud technologies.

 

Are you looking to migrate securely to the cloud? Are you willing to revolutionize how you deal with data storage and computing?

Reach Out!

Sources & further reading

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