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Why Dependence On Cloud Providers Could Come Back And Bite Us

It's time to re-evaluate the cloud policies you have in place. And if you're not learning from the mistakes of others, you're doomed to repeat them.

In the early days of the cloud, there was a lot of hesitation around choosing the right cloud, the right time to implement, and the appropriate resourcing. Today, businesses don't have a choice. If data isn't easily accessible from anywhere, employees are going to go around their company's policies and find the most productive way to get their job done, which might leave company data vulnerable.

IT organizations have also found the cloud attractive because they don't have to make large initial infrastructure investments, including supporting staffing costs. Instead, they can take advantage of pay-as-you-grow cloud options. Now is the time to take another look at the policies and agreements you and your cloud providers have in place to ensure that data is protected in use, over networks, in clouds, on devices, and when it's being stored.

Maintaining Control
In 2017, we're going to see an industry re-evaluation of technologies in place and the standards that govern them. The most important thing for business is to understand and maintain control of  yourown applications and data. With the cloud, there is the potential to lose control or visibility of your data. From compliance, governance, and vulnerability perspectives, that can't happen — unless, of course, you'd like to incur massive fines or leave your data open to attack.

When you're revisiting what you have in place, or evaluating a new cloud solution, make sure you understand where your data will be, the policies around access and identity management, and that the cloud provider meets all compliance regulations — regardless of the type of cloud infrastructure you choose.

For businesses looking at cloud adoption or those that are already using the cloud, you will have to carefully review access management throughout the lifecycle of the data. Ask questions like, "Who controls data access requests? What are the parameters of those controls? What happens to my data if we move to another provider? Does that provider we chose have access and identity management policies in place for access requests from locations outside our office, from different devices, unknown networks?"

The reason hybrid cloud adoption is such a popular option is because it allows businesses to take baby steps with the cloud. Not all information has to be kept off-premises. More sensitive information can be stored in a local data center, with stricter permissions. Ultimately, you can choose the control options that work for your business.

Learn from Mistakes of Others
According to a recent PwC study, collaboration and information sharing of threat intelligence has dropped 18% since 2010. Only half of respondents said they share and receive information from peers. Many are concerned about the privacy of individuals' data, incompatible sharing and data platforms, and the lack of a sharing framework. The bottom line is that we're moving into even more dangerous waters with attacks increasing by the day. Information sharing about the threat landscape, specifically in cloud computing, isn't going to be just an option in 2017. It's a necessity.

A framework for sharing information securely needs to be agreed upon this year. The more we know about attack methods, the more we can reduce our attack surfaces and strengthen security postures to protect apps and data no matter where they are. Learning from each other's mistakes and successes will lead us toward more secure environments. Whether you opt for a private, public, or hybrid cloud, a more secure cloud infrastructure benefits us all. 

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Stan Black, CISSP, is CSIO of Citrix where he is in charge of the secure delivery of applications and data to some of the world's largest organizations in healthcare, financial services, public sector, and manufacturing. Black defines a converged cyber security posture ... View Full Bio

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