As more and more companies complete the transition to the cloud, new challenges arise, especially concerning the organization’s level of security compliance. Having many different roles within the company put cloud solutions to use is a necessity, but it also means that there are too many cooks in the kitchen, making it harder to control the actions of each and every one. Gaining adequate visibility is challenging, and keeping up with the latest changes becomes almost impossible.
These issues grow even more complex when companies implement CI/CD procedures for continuous integration and allow for frequent changes to the cloud architecture to take place with very little to no monitoring. This creates a vulnerable environment where data breaches are simply waiting to happen and the only way to solve this problem is by practicing continuous monitoring, which has its own challenges.
When companies first move to the cloud, they normally do so without a clear governance strategy in place. What may seem like a non-issue for the first couple of manually-managed deployments looks very different as the capacity of work and number of employees involved grows. Businesses that find themselves overwhelmed and lost are left looking for real-time monitoring solutions to save the day. Automation proves to be a must-have component for companies interested in securely managing their cloud environment. It takes a lot of the work off their hands and clears up time and focus for architecture optimization and the formation of a detailed strategy.
Before you choose your company’s monitoring hero, make sure you’re aware of these challenges and solutions:
The main challenges of continuous monitoring and compliance
- Cloud compliance: Gone are the days when companies could just get their initial compliance certificate and rest between annual checkups. Today, government regulations like GDPR, SIC and NIST enforce strict rules and companies are held accountable for poor results and their consequences. A suspected breach is followed by an investigation which could lead authorities to the conclusion that the company has failed to comply with regulation. The result might be millions of dollars in fines (or billions, like in the case of Facebook and Google) and additional individual lawsuits.
- Cloud security: Data loss and leakage top the list of concerns for companies when it comes to their cloud security level. Recent research has found that 64% of organizations rate these issues as their #1 worry. One of the major security risks related to cloud environments is inadequate access management. Hackers know that the point of access is their gateway to pretty much anything, especially security control and blind spots, which is why they target this step ferociously. The aforementioned research shows that 42% of companies believe that unauthorized access, mainly due to employee credential misuse and lacking control strategy, is considered their main vulnerability. They’re not wrong to think that: switching from on-premise to cloud solutions put companies at a 54% higher risk of suffering security breaches.
The picture was taken from: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190624005387/en/New-2019-Cloud-Security-Research-Reveals-Key
- Cloud monitoring: As we’ve mentioned earlier, today’s cloud environments are constantly and rapidly changing. This creates a very real risk of misconfiguration, meaning that cloud providers are not necessarily to blame and much of the responsibility lies with the users themselves.
By now we’ve established the need for continuous monitoring, but it’s important to remember that just because a certain method works for your on-premise environment doesn’t mean that it would translate well to the cloud. What companies need is a dedicated solution that offers continuous monitoring based on increased visibility and transparency, bringing higher overall observability levels. This is the only way for organizations to detect and handle suspicious activity in real-time and stop breaches from taking place. Monitoring should also prevent performance issues by locating their root cause and mitigating them before downtime hits.
The good news is, there is a way to do continuous monitoring and compliance in your cloud architecture environment. Follow the best practices we list below:
Continuous cloud management best practices
- Track changes: This will enable you to know which changes caused performance or security issues and make the necessary adjustments right away. Knowing exactly what was changed in your cloud architecture and when is priceless in troubleshooting procedures and prevents relatively small issues from causing a huge mess.
- Gain and maintain visibility: It’s not enough to know what has changed; you need to know everything that’s going on within your cloud environment and be able to ask specific questions. Visibility-enhancing tools that are cloud-focused can help organize and map the cloud architecture so that every resource is made available and clear, including recent changes and the connection between different sections. Changes to this arrangement should also be monitored on a continuous basis.
- Set rules and alerts: We all know that if you track everything, you actually track nothing. In order to constantly monitor your cloud architecture, you first have to define the guidelines and set alerts for any deviations or critical changes that place your compliance and security levels at risk. Clear, detailed protocols like the ones offered by CloudWize will keep your eyes on the prize and make sure that nothing important escapes you on the one hand, and that you are not constantly bothered with insignificant information on the other. You can see the rules others wrote and write your own in this free community.
- Stay up to date on the latest best practices: Yes, this is a best practice tip about best practices, which is very meta, but that’s all part of the ongoing effort to stay one step ahead. Keep on the lookout for the latest security requirements and regulation and use our tips for following best practices.
Monitoring your cloud environment and gaining proper visibility and control are difficult tasks, and if they weren’t so critical we wouldn’t invest our finest resources in completing them. Companies today are fortunate enough to have a combination of advanced technology and solid strategy on their side, so they can achieve continuous monitoring.