Pre-COVID, cloud adoption was often seen as an aspirational goal for many enterprises in highly regulated industries. Despite the wealth of benefits, many enterprises in sectors such as defense and aerospace, financial services, and energy saw the risks associated with migrating to the cloud as too high. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Like many aspects of our lives in 2020, businesses saw the dramatic reprioritization of digital transformation initiatives, with cloud technologies taking a top spot on the list. Yet, while many organizations in these regulated industries are strongly considering adopting cloud technology, the risks remain. Here we will dive into how to shift to the cloud while maintaining compliance and mitigating risk.
Pre-migration: Identify Concerns About Cloud Services and Areas of Risk
As leadership begins to consider cloud technology, it is essential to understand where concerns and areas of risk lie. Technical leaders and teams must prepare to collaborate with other leadership members to determine areas of concern. With many concerns being drawn from headlines, be sure to communicate the differences from situation to situation. By aggregating concerns, leadership will be able to effectively mitigate the risks associated with those concerns and collaborate to get buy-in from the organization.
The other essential element of this first phase is understanding where the organization stands in terms of risk and compliance in its current state. When determining how to approach a cloud migration project, it is critical to compare apples to apples. Without strong insight into the existing risk and compliance posture, it is almost impossible to weigh the pros and cons of a migration effort, let alone which provider to partner with. In the best-case scenario, security leaders have real-time visibility into risk and compliance posture. Organizations must have as close to real-time visibility as possible to make this process a success.
Due Diligence: Integrating Vendor and Internal Risk Management
As with all approaches to digital transformation, cloud-first digital transformation initiatives must take into account the fact that, more often than not, these projects increase vendor technologies and associated vendor risks. As such, the organization must be prepared to reconfigure its approach to vendor and internal risk management. In short - all cyber and IT risk (internal and vendor focused) must be more aligned than ever when embracing digital transformation.
Choosing a Provider
With a strong understanding of the organization’s needs from a cloud provider, begin the search. Most companies that offer cloud technologies offer comparison sheets (see an example from Google Cloud here) and resources to get a clear understanding of where their offering falls within the market. This is where, though, your organization must have a clear understanding of your needs; are you reducing risk by offloading elements of your infrastructure to a provider? How does the compliance profile of the organization shift with this new vendor at such a critical level? Being able to effectively answer questions like these and ensure that whatever solution the organization chooses addresses at least the brunt of the concerns voiced by leadership is essential to a successful migration.
Execution & Planning
With the provider selected, concerns addressed, and plans to ensure that risks are mitigated, begin the planning process. From here, start determining the teams and roles necessary to make the migration possible.
Migration to the cloud can mean significant changes to processes, approaches to development, and production and, as a result, ensure that all stakeholding teams are represented and adequately skilled in the migration process. Have clear expectations on who is accomplishing what and where resources need to be dedicated.
To the extent that the migration itself impacts risk posture, it is essential to make sure that risk teams have a voice in the planning and execution and that there remains as close to real-time visibility into risk posture as possible.
Post-Migration: Maintenance and Alignment
Finally, following the cloud adoption process itself, risk teams must be prepared to absorb this new risk surface (again, critical to have a close alignment between vendor and internal risk teams for this reason). Be sure that risk teams can effectively measure risk and compliance posture with this new risk profile and effectively respond. Especially following a digital transformation initiative it is paramount to ensure that risk teams can reconfigure themselves for the new structure. Real-time insight into risk is essential.
To learn more about how highly-regulated enterprises are adopting cloud technologies and embracing digital transformation, watch our webinar Shifting to the Cloud While Maintaining Compliance and Mitigating Risk.