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The Path to Cloud Security is Through Automation

Cloud | Posted on November 17, 2018 by Tadd Axon

So you’ve established your business in the cloud, but is it secure?

The public cloud provides your organization with a tremendous breadth and depth of capabilities to optimize and modernize your security practices. But if you don’t know what is available, or how to configure them, it will be challenging to reap the benefits.

Cloud security is an ongoing optimization process

While your initial deployment to the public cloud is underway, the work is far from over. This isn’t news to most IT leaders.  You have to adjust your deployments over time using information from the public cloud.  This allows you to optimize the balance between operational expenses and application performance.

Organizations operating in a hybrid or all-in cloud system also need to track, update, and improve their security posture. Otherwise, you may put your organization at risk. Plus, you’ll leave exciting opportunities on the table. You can reduce manual work, leverage artificial intelligence, make evidence-based decisions on security, and make it easier for end users to stay safe.

Augment cloud security using automation and intelligence

An essential element for optimizing cloud security is automation. It helps you take advantage of the powerful, cutting-edge tools cloud providers and third-party vendors offer. Integrating these tools and capabilities often takes only a few clicks. But, you need to be aware of them and configure them properly, while keeping an eye on their impact once in place.

One of the most obvious ways is with patch management and upgraded cloud services. Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) offer “evergreen” status. That means they are constantly updated in the background. As an IT admin, you have some ability to manage the pace of these changes to better suit your needs. Infrastructure as a Service offering needs more attention and testing. It’s much like virtual machines in the traditional data center. Automation creates caution and consistency in your patching approach. This ensures that all workloads get the attention they need.

Another major automation opportunity is through identity management and access policies. Out of the box, services such as Azure work to establish a “baseline” of normal user behavior. So, if there is an anomalous or impossible access request, Azure can do something about it automatically. For example, the same user wouldn’t be able to sign in at the same time in two locations across the world without at least alerting your security team. Most of the configuration of these services is out of your hands. But, IT admins can configure responses to anomalous situations. You can do this by setting limits or adding strong technical enforcement to existing policies.

A wealth of automated and labor-reducing tools are also available on the operations side.  These take manual, repetitive tasks, and replace them with repeatable, consistent outcomes. IT teams can then focus on tasks and projects that require technical acumen and have higher business value.

Staying vigilant: set it, don’t forget it

As a best practice, organizations need to stay current on changes and new capabilities offered by their cloud providers. Security capabilities are no exception.  These are key architectural decisions your organization has made. Therefore, you need to keep some degree of currency. What may have been sufficient six weeks ago could be made more efficient today. This requires cooperation between development, operations, and security teams.

Cloud providers offer powerful tools to support your organization. You can automatically generate a prioritized list of administrative dashboards, informed by the configuration of your existing assets and external information (Azure Security Center and AWS Guard Duty).  A gamified security score (Office 356 SecureScore) highlights areas that need improving. You can sort it by user impact and expected cost. Many of these recommendations take only a click of the mouse to complete. But, you need to mandate someone to stay on top of them to make sure these needs don’t get ignored.

Cloud providers often take care of or make compliance with regulatory frameworks simple. However, your organization is ultimately accountable for this responsibility. Regulatory requirements change over time. You need to understand what your cloud provider is doing to help you comply, and what you need to configure.

Getting help automating your cloud security

Optimizing your cloud security requires time, resources, attention detail, and expertise. From configuration to ongoing monitoring, it’s a significant investment.

Softchoice has many professional and managed services to help your organization take full advantage of the capabilities offered by your public cloud provider. We also have a number of data-driven assessments and proven methodologies to make your cloud security reliable.

Get the mentorship and support you need to start automating your cloud security today. Check out our Cloud Services to learn more.

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