It isn’t an easy feat to properly migrate to the cloud, but setting up your new environment is only half the battle. Technology changes over time and needs maintenance. Vulnerabilities are discovered, and they need patching. Software requires updating. Then, of course, hackers become more sophisticated with new and robust tools that penetrate networks like never before. Maintaining the integrity of your cloud environment over time requires constant monitoring to ensure your data stays where it’s supposed to.
Your cloud isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ type initiative. New data is collected and created each day, and in today’s 24/7 world, that data requires protection in the form of constant monitoring. However, monitoring your cloud is no easy task. Studies show that data visibility is a common problem, with only 20% of businesses able to access the specific data they need to properly monitor their public cloud environment.
Naturally, there are cloud monitoring tools available that can ease this process. Amazon CloudWatch and Microsoft’s Azure Monitor are just two of the most common examples. Additionally, there are many third-party monitoring tools that vary in specialization. AppDynamics APM (now part of Cisco) and CA UIM (touted as one of the easiest to use) are popular for those seeking alternatives. While it might be easy to make the native choice and go with CloudWatch if you have AWS or Monitor if your cloud is Azure, it’s necessary to do your due diligence and find what’s right for you. These tools have many useful features including use metrics, autoscaling, diagnostic logs, customizable alerts, resiliency testing, and much more.
Despite the convenience of utilizing a cloud monitoring tool, it will still require a person to interact with that software. Who will take action based on those reports? Which individual in your company will be responsible for ensuring the tool works properly? And who will even help you decide which tool is best for your cloud setup? Whether it’s internal talent, someone from your cloud service provider, or a third-party expert cloud consultant, understand that the benefits of your cloud migration can only be realized if it is consistently monitored by someone who knows the ropes.
A brand-new cloud initiative is like bringing home a new puppy. It’s an exciting time, but it takes a lot of work. A puppy cannot be left unattended for long periods of time without at least a minor disaster occurring, and your cloud is the same. As you properly monitor your cloud environment, it’s inevitable that an incident will be identified. It doesn’t even take a massive breach or corruption for one to occur, either. Amazon defines an incident as simply an unplanned interruption to service or a decrease in quality of that service.
It is crucial to have a plan in place for responding to incidents that arise. After all, who will get the incident notification sent to their phone when something goes wrong at 3 a.m., and how will they react to the problem? In severe cases, there may only be minutes to salvage data or stop information loss. How your company reacts in these situations greatly determines how successful your cloud will be for the long term.
Amazon outlines a nice seven-step incident response plan which is summarized below. While it may be geared toward AWS users, these steps are applicable to any company seeking to create their own plan. For those seeking even more guidance on this specific topic, “A condensed field guide for the Cyber Security Incident Responder” is a great read that dives deep.
Incident Response Plan:
Preparation: Training at the outset is a requirement.
Identification: This is also known as Detection and can tie in with monitoring strategy.
Containment: Isolate the issue quickly.
Investigation: How did this incident happen?
Eradication: Remove the threat from your environment.
Recovery: Restore your network to its original state.
Follow-up: Report findings, learn from them, and update monitoring procedures if necessary.
Consumers have learned the importance of backing up their phones, MP3s, and photographs, but a surprising number of companies fail in the backing up of their data. This should be a standard part of the monitoring process. Where is your data housed, and where is it backed up? Are you using a backup tool? Do you back up crucial data on your physical servers while also using a second and separate cloud to back up data further?
There are many factors to consider in backing up your data, but it’s a mandatory practice for those serious about their security in 2019. It disarms ransomware attacks when you know that your data cannot truly be lost or deleted. Worries can be eased, and confidence in your operations can be increased. Build back ups into the monitoring process, and your cloud will be much safer.
Properly monitoring your cloud includes taking care of updates, patches and bug fixes. These can be for your cloud itself or for the programs that run inside your cloud or communicate with it. Leaving things unpatched introduces vulnerabilities into your environment and is how some of the most famous data breaches in recent history have occurred.
Looking to the news provides additional motivation. Intel just released details on a “Zombieload” vulnerability affecting nearly every Intel chip from the last eight years. Additionally, Oracle recently announced a startling 297 patches that cover a number of potential exploits. Imagine your cloud credentials leaking or hidden backdoors sitting wide open, and you can understand why fixes are so important. Both Intel and Oracle have taken action, providing tools, in some cases auto updates, and Amazon is modifying AWS on their end, but are these updates reaching your specific environment?
Monitoring your cloud is complicated, taking great deals of time and effort. Your cloud provider may be providing some tools and assistance. An in-house tech pro can own the initiative in your organization. Outside experts like CorSource can provide further and more detailed direction and recommendations throughout the process. However it works best for you, cloud monitoring is an essential part of modern business strategy that will keep your data right where it should be.