Storms & Silver Linings: Avoiding the dangers of cloud migration
We’re familiar with the many benefits of the cloud. Following a successful cloud migration, organizations can liberate their data from on-premises storage systems and set it free. Teams can collaborate across time zones and build truly global workflows that were unthinkable just a few years ago.
But when it comes to actually enacting the cloud migration, a hard rain awaits the unwary, particularly when unforeseen circumstances occur, like a global pandemic that forces organizations to hurriedly push forward “two years of digital transformation in two months.” We hear a lot about the sunlit uplands of cloud-powered business, but what about the dangers?
Storm on the Horizon
The coronavirus pandemic prompted unprecedented levels of cloud migration. According to Deloitte, the cloud market grew faster in 2020 than in 2019 despite the “steepest economic contraction in modern history.” Demand is not likely to slow down any time soon, with IDC reporting that 90% of global enterprises now expect to rely on hybrid cloud by 2022.
The benefits of cloud migration include decreased management overheads and greater flexibility to expand or contract storage requirements with the click of a button rather than purchasing and decommissioning physical servers in a data center.
Yet there is a huge risk to making information available to a distributed workforce. It only takes one compromised endpoint to cause a shattering data breach when an organization’s data is overexposed and unmonitored. Further peril awaits organizations that use collaborative tools like Slack, Teams, or SharePoint, which facilitate easy, effortless information sharing but do not adequately incentivize secure working practices. It’s now unprecedentedly straightforward to share a sensitive document with a colleague or hand over a password. Sadly, convenience can be the enemy of security.
Overexposed and Underprotected
One of the most concerning stats Varonis’ researchers found suggests that a junior analyst who joins a major financial institution has access to 20% of the company’s data on their first day of employment — amounting to 11 million files. This is called organization-wide exposure (OWE) and is essentially the opposite of zero trust. Migration can make this problem worse.
When sensitive data is available to the entire company, data breaches, insider threats, and ransomware attacks become much more likely. If this data is distributed across a remote workforce operating away from the scrutiny of IT staff and on-premises protections, the risk is amplified to unacceptable levels.
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