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6/8/2017
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Tim Prendergast
Tim Prendergast
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Hide & Seek: Security Teams Lack Visibility in the Cloud

IT leaders remain on the hot seat when it comes to their ability to continuously monitor the state of their data and operations. How hot is your seat?

It's no secret that the cloud is rapidly gaining acceptance as a preferred infrastructure platform for enterprises of all sizes. All indicators suggest that this upward trend continues unabated, but concerns about security issues -- access to data, geographic location of sensitive data, compliance, and visibility and security controls built into organizations’ public and hybrid cloud environments -- are still top of mind among CSOs and CIOs.

Much of the anxiety about operating in the cloud is partly rooted in the fear of becoming the next security breach headline. These stories gain huge traction in the press, but they don’t paint the full picture when it comes to cloud security. The issue underlying most of this apprehension is lack of visibility into an organization’s cloud environment, which signals a loss of control. Once control is lost, goes the thinking, CSOs and CIOs fear massive repercussions to their business.

A study sponsored by Evident.io and The SANS Institute, Orchestrating Security in the Cloud, surveyed almost 500 people in enterprise IT departments about their cloud infrastructures. It revealed that while 40% of organizations said they store or process sensitive data in the cloud, fully one-third (33%) of the survey participants said they do not have enough visibility into their public cloud providers’ operations.

This sheds light on the state of the relationship between cloud service providers (CSP) and customers. This lack of insight and ability to act quickly prevents some customers from being able to fully trust and leverage their cloud for fear of vulnerabilities. The inability to continuously monitor the state of their data and operations is a major cause of concern among IT leaders – after all, they’re the ones on the hook for reducing the vulnerabilities of their resources. If they can't spot issues or fully grasp how it's affecting them, they are failing in their role as protector of the organization’s intellectual property.

This is a very real concern, but it's also important to remember that the relationship between CSPs and customers includes a shared responsibility model for security. The CSP maintains strong security and compliance controls across their entire infrastructure platform: datacenter controls, core network/hardware controls, operational security practices like data disposal, and change control, among others. The customer is responsible for anything they manipulate on the cloud platform. Amazon explains this very well in relation to their Amazon Web Services: “AWS has secured the underlying infrastructure and you must secure anything you put on the infrastructure.”

Considering this, security insight means visibility into your data and applications, but also into exactly how that is functioning within your cloud environment. In other words, it's about your data, but it's also about how your data is being treated in the cloud. Hackers are not discerning about where the data resides, they just want an easy way to get in and access it.

Companies that migrate from an on premise environment to the cloud soon find that using traditional security technology and agent-based solutions don't provide the insight they need. While they may still be able to get important data, it's usually delivered after it's too late, and it doesn't provide the context that identifies critical service configuration or issues with controls.

The cloud model is different and requires a security solution that is built specifically for the manner in which cloud customers interact with their resources. Customers are looking for a seamless way to integrate insight into their data, applications, functionality along with how it's all being transacted in the cloud -- especially now that some security can be automated. 

Tim Prendergast co-founded Evident.io to help others avoid the pain he endured when helping Adobe adopt the cloud at a massive level.  After years of building, operating, and securing services in Amazon Web Services, he set out to make security approachable and ... View Full Bio
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