With many businesses moving their operations to the cloud, how do you ensure your controls work securely and efficiently? Cloud controls are a set of security controls that protect cloud environments against vulnerabilities and minimize the effects of malicious attacks. These controls include a variety of measures for reducing, mitigating, or eliminating distinct types of risks such as data being publicly accessible or data being unencrypted. With many companies implementing cloud transformations, the need for cloud controls to minimize business risk is on the rise. Streamlining your control operation and release processes enhance the speed in which you can address security risks and allow your organization to seize the greatest business value available in the cloud.
How can senior executives take traditional risk control principles and apply them to the cloud-based technology that supports so much of the modern enterprise? Effective business leaders need to take a more proactive stance and transform their cloud control process into a true competitive advantage—ultimately improving business decisions and increasing the value of the company in a risk-conscious way. While efficient cloud controls speed up cloud migration, having too many can cause more harm than good. Below are Infinitive’s 5 ways to ensure your cloud controls are effective:
- Align and automate using policy as code: Expressing policies as code by codifying rules for policy evaluation enables automation of workflows in a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline for faster and more frequent updates. Integrating CI/CD with operations and development (DevOps) allows teams to address gaps and risks in an agile, lean, and modern delivery methodology. This also requires an organizational structure that defines governance and control activities which allow organizations to systematically declare, test, execute, measure, and maintain security policies. Utilizing policy as code authorizes faster automation, management at scale, testing, and monitoring. Examples of this is Terraform, Cloud Custodian JSON/YAML, etc.
- Measure what matters, observability is important: Measuring enterprise success in the cloud requires leaders to think differently when it comes to decision making. Leaders need immediate access to systems and metrics such as high-level dashboards that focus on control effectiveness across enterprise cloud environments and allows them to pinpoint issues for faster solutioning. Leaders need to have a central way of understanding performance and control effectiveness history to drive future decision making. Example of this includes Datadog, AWS QuickSight, Tableau, JIRA/Confluence Dashboards, Cloud Custodian JSON/YAML, etc.
- Enterprise Alignment on Best Practices: Centralizing cloud security is a proactive and automated approach that will instantly notify IT teams to eliminate threat and protect companies from attacks. This best practice enables the unified system to allow rapid CI/CD by minimizing overhead, increasing safety, and preventing breaches. Standardizing documentation and implementation allow you to align and scale cloud controls effectively across the enterprise resulting in cost and time savings. Furthermore, applying CI/CD as a best practice will decentralize decision making by empowering DevOp teams to self-manage. Ultimately, aligning these practices will help your organization meet its business goals by ensuring code quality and faster application development.
- Change Control Management: Implementing a change management system, although difficult, will result in decreased disruptions, unauthorized changes, and errors within your cloud environment. The change management process should be designed specifically for the size and complexity of your environment to prevent misalignment between teams. This ensures implementation and documentation stay aligned to reduce confusion on how controls move from A to B.
- Test your Cloud Controls: It is imperative to continuously test your cloud controls with technical and functional resources to confirm optimal performance, security of data, and minimize downtime of your processes. To prevent lengthy audits, business disruptions, and potentially heavy fines, testing your cloud controls will ensure that they are working as intended to mitigate risks.
Infinitive’s cloud governance experts have helped many organizations protect their cloud environments by addressing, evaluating, and implementing cloud controls. For a top 10 US bank, our team validated 50+ controls while removing duplicates to streamline the client’s cloud infrastructure security posture. Infinitive’s cloud experts created and rewrote 442 controls to comply with the client’s standards and OCC regulations. In addition, Infinitive developed a dashboard to display various metrics related to cloud security controls, which provided visibility to the leadership on current risk, vulnerabilities, and control status. Read more about our work: Multi-Cloud Governance Creation and IAM Improvements.
At Infinitive, we guide organizations to transition to the cloud securely and efficiently. Incorporating these 5 must-haves for your cloud control validation process will result in your organization having higher control effectiveness and allow you to get in front of security breaches and attacks. With Infinitive, you will always be one step ahead. Let’s chat about how you can transform your control processes into a competitive advantage today.
Senior Consultant, Risk Management
Consultant, Business Analysis