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The journey to the cloud mitigates enterprise risk

Over the past decade, cybersecurity has posed an increasing risk for organizations. In fact, cyber incidents topped the recent Allianz Risk Barometer for only the second time in the survey’s history. The challenges in combating these risks only continue to grow. Adversaries tend to be agile and are consistently looking for new ways to land within your digital environments. They also drive attack vectors that work, which means enterprise risk leaders are now forced to look for new ways of securing infrastructure and data. 

Cloud comes of age in the modern day cybersecurity threat landscape

When cloud, in its various delivery models, was first introduced, it didn’t fit neatly into the security frameworks that had seemingly protected networks for many decades. Public cloud was the answer to ongoing IT challenges: scale, resources, security capabilities, and budget cycle limitations. Now, public cloud is meeting the increasing challenge of implementing cybersecurity controls and frameworks that are capable of protecting today’s global enterprise.  

Cloud adoption – with all its scale and redistribution of longstanding security paradigms – is the optimal choice for infrastructure and security, particularly as organizations grapple with the need to engage in digital transformation. We assert that successful digital transformation is impossible without incorporating the use of the scale, security architecture, and resiliency of the cloud. 

Consequently, cloud adoption becomes a necessary component of roadmap discussions and planning as your organization looks to reduce overall risk. Risk leaders and enterprise cybersecurity leaders must consider that moving data, digital processes, and priority workloads to the public cloud is a crucial step for meeting the current and future digital needs of the enterprise. Going forward, this digital transformation increasingly will include hybrid infrastructure environments composed of a combination of on-premises and cloud solutions. 

Pinpointing where threats thrive

As digital environments become more complex within a given organization, proactively countering adversaries becomes all the more difficult. It’s harder to implement, scale, and adhere to existing security and control frameworks. It’s also increasingly challenging to apply framework guidance to new applications, build and support infrastructure within a secure foundation, and maintain good cyber hygiene through the digital lifecycle.

As reported by TechTarget, the 2020 hack of the SolarWinds Orion IT performance monitoring system is a prime example. It grabbed headlines “not because a single company was breached, but because it triggered a much larger software supply chain incident.” This vulnerability in popular, commercially available, and widely utilized software compromised the data, networks, and systems of thousands of companies when a routine software update turned out to be backdoor malware.  

A close look at the root problems behind high-profile security breaches reveals that it’s a lack of agility and an inability to scale resources that prohibit the modern security organization’s ability to respond quickly enough to counter new challenges. Look even closer and you’ll often find an insufficient implementation of best practices and ineffective solutions, leaving an organization continually chasing the next tool or solution and scrambling to stay ahead of emerging threats.

While the cost to individual businesses is high, most organizations struggle with the needed skills and resources to rigorously maintain data security basics and ensure readiness for inevitable attacks. The previous sentence is especially true when you consider that maintaining an effective state of cybersecurity readiness is a costly practice that requires the continual development of expertise, the evaluation of new tools, and an ongoing element of vigilance.  

Threat visibility is a big part of the problem. You can’t protect your company from what you can’t see. For individual enterprises – with critical data workloads housed in a combination of on-premises servers, a variety of endpoints, and both private and public cloud instances – staying ahead in the ongoing battle requires a new approach. 

The identification of actionable alerts and other data contributes to a better overall state of readiness. Thought leadership and discussions related to Autonomic Security Operations provide a promising outlook for security organizations willing to lean into the changing technology landscape – a landscape that now benefits from leveraging automation and machine learning currently used in security stacks. Reducing the chance of introducing vulnerabilities or missing-critical alerts starts with ensuring full visibility into an increasingly expanding and complex environment.

The evolution of a shared responsibility to a shared fate 

Industry megatrends are driving cloud adoption and with it a path to improved cybersecurity. Among these trends is the concept of shared fate as an evolution of the historical shared-responsibility model. Shared fate drives a flywheel of increasing trust which develops as more enterprises transition to the cloud. This compels an even higher security investment and a more vested interest from cloud service providers. 

At Google Cloud, shared fate means we take an active stake in our customers’ security posture, offering capabilities and defaults that help ensure secure deployments and configurations in the public cloud. We also offer experience-based guidance on how to configure cloud workloads for security, and can assist with risk management, reduction, and transfer.

The Google Cloud Risk Protection Program represents the continuing evolution of the shared-fate model.  The program offers a practical solution that provides the modern enterprise a snapshot comparison of its current security state against well-adopted cloud-security frameworks. It also give you an opportunity to explore cyber insurance designed to meet your needs from our partners Allianz and Munich Re.

When performed with diligence, cloud adoption can help increase your overall cybersecurity effectiveness. Using a hybrid approach – and steadily reducing which data assets remain on premises – can strengthen your overall security posture and reduce risks to the organization. 

Cloud security and the ability to reduce risk 

In comparison to the enterprise-by-enterprise security scramble to protect data and workloads in individual private clouds, global public cloud solutions like Google Cloud can be a force multiplier when adhering to established best practices. By that, we mean, quite literally, that you get more security at every touchpoint – from infrastructure and software to access and data security.  

Strong security in the public cloud starts with the foundational pieces: the hardware and design elements. At Google, for example, we take a security-by-design approach within both the data center and purpose-built components themselves. Within Google Cloud, data is encrypted by default – both at rest and in transit. Google’s baseline security architecture adheres to the zero trust principles, meaning that every network, device, person, or service initially cannot be trusted. 

Embarking on a zero trust architecture journey gives modern security practitioners the ability to methodically shut down traditional attack vectors. Zero trust also provides more granular visibility and control of rapidly expanding environments. The recent emphasis of its benefits, as the U.S. White House set forth through an executive order on increasing cybersecurity resilience, is an example of the wide-scale recognition by both government and industry on the benefits of this approach. 

Since adopting a zero trust approach more than a decade ago, Google has achieved a recognizable level of maturity, reflected by our internal infrastructure and multiple enterprise offerings, enabling different aspects of the zero trust security journey.

Compliance and privacy drive critical elements of the cloud adoption cycle

Privacy frameworks, regulatory compliance, and data sovereignty are driving critical elements of the cloud adoption cycle. Cloud providers must ensure they have the necessary controls, attestations, and abilities to audit in order to provide organizations with the tools to preemptively satisfy regulatory and compliance mandates across the globe. 

Now consistently expected to be part of a design feature that’s built into the cloud journey, it cannot simply be an add-on capability. The direction of this evolution promises to play more of a role in the future of cloud adoption, not less. Because this is an ongoing component of enterprise risk evaluation, your business must consider cloud providers that can partner on this critical aspect of the journey – and not leave you without the resources to respond to this growing critical need.

Building trust into your digital transformation journey

Digital transformation is difficult because the modern enterprise must build and design for both today and tomorrow. From a security perspective, the challenge has often been that security industry practitioners cannot always predict what the future will look like. That said, there are clear steps you can take to mitigate all-around risk throughout the process.

How you approach the cloud is, of course, integral to your journey, but it doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing proposition. And although technology debt continues to persist with legacy systems, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t begin to move forward.

Google Cloud enables you to modernize at your own pace and understand what’s realistic. We recommend you move what data you can to a more secure public cloud today, followed by a phased approach to move more in the months and years that follow. The key tenets of our approach to security in the public cloud include:

The security-by-design posture of Google Cloud can help modern-day enterprises scale security capabilities and reduce risk with an architecture built on zero trust principles.

The Google Cloud approach to security and resiliency includes a framework to help you protect against adverse cyber events by using our comprehensive suite of solutions.

Google Cloud can help ensure your organization adheres to the requirements of a growing and increasingly complex regulatory and compliance environment. 

The ideal model of a future organization is one where cloud plays a major role in infrastructure design and architecture. Your organization should begin to view public cloud as an enabler of the business and a core component of digital transformation.

As you transition more data to the public cloud, it’s paramount that trust is ingrained in every step you take with your cloud service provider. Many service providers readily take on a shared responsibility with your organization when it comes to security. At Google, we take it several steps further with our shared fate model to help ensure data security in the public cloud. Your future and our’s are part of the same data security journey.

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