It's Time to Make Security an Innovation Enabler

How data-driven security can best safeguard your unique cloud operations.

Ulfar Erlingsson, Chief Architect, Lacework

October 11, 2022

5 Min Read
Cloud security
Source: the lightwriter via Alamy Stock Photo

The cloud is made up of extremely dynamic environments that undergo constant expansion, updating, and change. As such, securing these cloud environments requires an equally dynamic solution, uniquely differentiated from that of traditional, on-premises computing environments. Yet a recent study suggests that 32% of organizations use the same rules, processes, and tools for both on-premises and cloud security.

Using the same rules-based security approaches for the cloud is like trying to force a square peg into a round hole — it won't fit no matter how you spin it, yet far too many enterprises still try. Given their disappointing track record in securing corporate computing, rules-based systems cannot be expected to be effective in the cloud, which is both different and more challenging. The dynamic and vulnerable nature of the cloud requires enterprises to take a new approach: one that views security as a data problem whose solution provides both safety and agility.

Accept Cloud Security for What It Is: Never the Same Day as Before

Unprecedented data growth is forcing enterprises around the world to reconsider their data storage infrastructure, forgoing legacy architecture and migrating to cloud platforms. While the cloud promises new levels of efficiency and scale, one of its defining characteristics is constant change. The pace of software iteration is supercharged, with open source building blocks constantly churning, underlying platforms rapidly evolving, and operations horizontally scaling out and vertically tailing. As more computing moves to the cloud, the faster the potential attack surface increases, resulting in more risks and vulnerabilities. Long story short: running an operation in the cloud is an exercise in frantic change management.

The world of traditional business computing no longer exists. The cloud environment is far removed from on-premise's closed-off walls (and soft squishy center) guarded by multiple layers of defense. According to O'Reilly, 90% of organizations use the cloud, and Gartner estimates that over 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms by 2025. Security professionals are facing a completely new landscape. And outdated rules-based approaches to security are only guaranteed to flood operations teams with contextless alerts, leading to poor visibility, guesswork, and fear of the unknown.

Protecting operations in the cloud is fundamentally different from protecting traditional, on-premises computing. The security industry needs to accept this fact and prioritize providing visibility and stability to its customers. By understanding the unique construction of each customer's cloud operations, the defining characteristics of their workload, and the specifics of their computing environment, security professionals can provide the foundation for customers to operate with confidence and agility as they adapt safely to each change. But such a foundation can only be achieved by data-driven techniques and comprehensive analysis.

About the Author(s)

Ulfar Erlingsson

Chief Architect, Lacework

Ulfar Erlingsson is the Chief Architect at Lacework, the cloud security company. Prior to Lacework, Erlingsson worked as a Tech Lead and Manager of Privacy-protection Technologies at Apple. The meat of his experience in the security industry derives from 10 years at Google, where he was a Senior Staff Research Scientist.

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