Risk Mitigation Planning for the Cloud

Risk Management Strategies in the CloudWhen an organization’s most sensitive data is housed on-premise, risk management is almost always considered a core business activity—and a priority. But today, with organizations moving data off-premise and adopting a cloud-based strategy, many are failing to also adopt new risk mitigation strategies.

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These organizations believe that in the cloud, their provider will take care of all concerns regarding security, privacy, availability, reliability, scalability, compatibility, and standardization. And while some reputable cloud providers will take on the bulk of the heavy lifting in these areas, not all providers created equal. So, it’s important that organizations continue to view risk management as a core business activity, even when data is in the cloud.

 

10 Cloud Risks to Be Aware Of

 

1. Cloud Service Failure

Cloud services are not immune to failure and going dark for any length of time can damage an organization’s reputation. Therefore, it’s important that organizations mitigate the risk of cloud service failure through disaster recovery and business continuity planning.

2. Interception of Data

Data in-flight can be intercepted as it moves to or from the cloud. Risk mitigation involves ensuring that all data transmissions are strongly encrypted and that data transmission endpoints are authenticated to ensure that they are legitimate.

3. Unauthorized Use (Shadow IT)

Some cloud providers make it easy for users to acquire new services on demand without the consent of an organization’s internal IT team. Using software not supported by an organization is known as “shadow IT,” and it can cause an increase in malware infections.

4. Data Loss

It doesn’t always take an attack for data to be lost. Accidental deletion by the cloud provider or a natural disaster, such as a fire or hurricane, can lead to the permanent loss of customer data. The burden of avoiding data loss does not always fall solely on the provider's shoulders, so it’s important to understand a provider’s availability and uptime percentages.

5. Reduced Visibility

Organizations lose some visibility and control in the cloud as a portion of responsibility for the infrastructure moves to the provider. One of the risks of reduced visibility in a public cloud environment is the ability to verify the secure deletion of data. This is because data is spread over a number of different storage devices within the provider’s multi-tenancy environment. The threat increases if an organization adopts a multi-cloud approach.

6. Legal Risks

It can be very difficult to achieve compliance using cloud architecture because often an organization doesn’t know the location of data. The legal risks of maintaining compliance with regulations such as HIPAA for healthcare, CJIS for government, or PCI for financial transaction must be considered to mitigate risk of regulatory fines or lawsuits.

7. Geographic Location

Different geographic locations have their own set of laws (including international, federal, state and local). Some organizations may need to limit the locations in which cloud workloads are housed to avoid the legal requirements of certain jurisdictions.

8. Resource Exhaustion

When an organization does not manage its cloud resources effectively and fails to prepare to automatically provision additional resources when needed, service can be degraded and eventually, may not be available at all. Organizations can mitigate the risk of resource exhaustion through proper capacity planning or by using a cloud provider offering instant scalability.

9. Multi-tenancy Failure

Exploitation of vulnerabilities within public multi-tenancy infrastructures that are shared with thousands or even millions of users can lead to failure to maintain separation among tenants. This failure can be used by an attacker to gain access from one organization's resource to another organization's assets or data.

10. IT Strain

Managing and operating in the cloud may require an organization’s internal IT team to learn a new model and gain new skills in addition to maintaining their current responsibilities for on-premise IT. This added complexity could also lead to security gaps in an agency's cloud and on-premises implementations and compromise security.

Moving to the cloud offers a wide variety of benefits, from reduced costs to increased security and much more. But it’s important for organizations to understand that there are still risks involved, and that they still share some responsibility with their cloud provider. Moving to the cloud is all about mitigating major risks while accepting manageable ones to maximize operations. One way this can be achieved is through a virtual private cloud (VPC). VPCs are just as virtual as a public cloud, but offer a level of isolation between users to increase security. DSM, the predictable cloud provider, offers seamless transition to a VPC with IT experts on hand every step of the way. We offer 99.99+% uptime, 24/7/365 support, and we’re HIPAA, CJIS, and PCI compliant. Contact DSM today to learn more.

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