Common Cloud Migration Security Challenges

November 15, 2022
Common Cloud Migration Security Challenges

Migrating to Cloud can increase the efficiency of the enterprise, save money and reduce redundancy. Cloud migration refers to moving data from a local, on-premise server to a cloud server or moving from one cloud platform to another.

In addition, Cloud migration data security is critical whenever you move workloads from one platform to another. It's essential you take steps to protect your organization's data and address any security concerns during this process recognizing the unique security challenges allows you to develop a plan to mitigate and minimize them.

What Is Cloud Migration?

During cloud migration, your business's data, applications, and other elements move from one computing environment to a cloud computing environment, such as AWS, Azure, or Google. The original environment can be an on-premise data center or another cloud provider.

Making the move to the cloud offers multiple benefits to your business, including scalability and greater access from users across the enterprise. Once you're in the cloud, you can scale your workloads up, add more users and increase storage space. It's much easier to scale cloud-based infrastructure than on-premises infrastructure and in a traditional on-premises setting, you need to purchase physical hardware and equipment, plus more software licenses.

Migrating to the cloud is also much more cost-effective for your organization since you don't need to invest in hardware or equipment. Once in the cloud, the provider covers any maintenance and upgrades required, usually as part of your subscription fee and services level agreements (SLA’s)

Moving to the cloud can also improve user experience and overall data performance. Your team can access data and documents in the cloud from any device that connects to the internet. With the cloud, you can expand the size of your team and the geographic area you cover much more easily than using on-premises systems.

Cloud Migration Security Challenges

Security looks slightly different in the cloud than it does when using an on-premises environment. As you migrate to the cloud, you'll likely notice that the security protocols and controls you've developed no longer serve their purpose. A primary reason for that is that everything in the cloud is software-based.

Security concerns can also arise if you decide to migrate from one cloud services provider to another. The security protocols of the initial provider might not align with those of the new one.

Understanding the potential security challenges of migrating to the cloud allows you to take a proactive approach to reduce them.

1. Incompatibility Between Legacy and Current Architecture

Legacy architecture often includes equipment, hardware, and software that may be past its prime and no longer updated for modern data protection at the same level as cloud systems. Legacy systems can sometimes be more vulnerable to data breaches and other security concerns and often run slower Vendors may even stop supporting older platforms and equipment and will move to more cloud bases software-driven systems.

Additionally, legacy systems are often incompatible with current programs. If you continue to use the legacy program while migrating to an up-to-date cloud provider, there can be wide security gaps in areas where the two platforms can't communicate. The disconnect between the two programs can also create opacity, making it challenging for your security or IT teams to detect issues.

2. Vulnerable Infrastructure

Legacy infrastructure tends to be more vulnerable than modern systems. When your organization's infrastructure is healthy, the risks associated with migration are reduced. Before migrating your data, evaluate your existing infrastructure and systems, keeping an eye out for any computing weaknesses.

Once you know where there are capability gaps, interdependencies, and other vulnerabilities, you can assess their impact and develop a cloud infrastructure that addresses them.

3. Not Having Comprehensive Identity and Access Management

Identity and access management (IAM) permits the right users to access the right data at the right times. Your organization needs IAM to protect its data and to ensure continued operations. Having a solid IAM program reduces your identity management costs and improves agility, particularly when adopting new programs or moving to new systems.

IAM systems can take many forms, including two-factor and multi-factor authentication, privileged access management and single sign-on systems. The systems allow you to store profile and identity data so the people who need to access certain information can do so. People who don't have permission can't access your organization's data.

Without a comprehensive IAM system, you have no way to track who's viewing or accessing what. A limited IAM can also keep the people who need to view or use documents from getting access to them. As you migrate to the cloud, weak IAM can make your data more vulnerable to attacks from bad actors.

4. Lack of Team Skills

Your IT team might excel at what they do or when using the current system. But maybe they do not have much security training or knowledge. Limited security knowledge or lack of understanding about managing security challenges can put your migration process at risk of attack. Not knowing how to encrypt or shield data risks exposing it to unauthorized parties as it moves through the migration.

5. Accidental Data Exposure

Transferring massive amounts of data creates the risk of significant exposure. The chance for data exposure is amplified when you also need to configure access controls across multiple environments.

Data exposure and potential data loss can occur for several reasons during a migration. For example, if you don't properly encrypt the data as it moves from one cloud services provider to another or from an on-premises environment to a cloud platform, a third party can intercept it and use it. Data in motion creates greater security risk and hackers target exactly that vulnerability to gain access to the system. Access penetration, once accomplished, is then sold to other hackers who exploit application and Operating System (OS) weaknesses, once inside the network.

Not setting your access controls up properly also increases the risk of data exposure or loss. An unauthorized party can get into your organization's data and use or delete it. Encryption and properly established access controls protect the integrity of your data and limit the chance of it falling into the wrong hands.

6. Not Having a Cloud Migration Strategy

It's essential that you create a secure cloud migration strategy. Some of the things to consider when developing a strategy include the number of providers you'll use and how you'll migrate your data. You might choose to work with a single cloud services provider or balance your data workloads between several providers. Some organizations might find that combining the cloud with on-premises data centers best meets their needs.

When developing a cloud migration security strategy, data testing can be beneficial. Your organization can perform data testing when moving from an on-premises system to the cloud, moving from one cloud provider to another or upgrading an existing cloud database.

In addition, data migration testing from RightData provides you with the tools you need to ensure data quality during migration and gives you a clear picture of your data as it moves through the migration or upgrade process.

Cloud Migration Checklist

Once you know the common data risks associated with cloud migration, you can take steps to minimize or avoid them. Follow this checklist to enhance the validity of your organization's data during cloud migration.

1. Have a Comprehensive Backup System

Data loss and exposure are potential risks during cloud migration. Data exposure can occur when an unauthorized party inadvertently gets access to unencrypted data or when the data is given or shown to third parties. Data loss occurs when information gets deleted or damaged.

Before you begin the migration, creating a comprehensive backup system will help ensure that your organization's sensitive data doesn't fall into the wrong hands or vanish. The first step is to make a backup everything before you start the migration. Files can become corrupted during migration, meaning they don't open or function properly once they make it to the cloud.

Having at least one backup copy of every file you're moving means you can restore any corrupted files or replace any missing files.

In addition to backing up your data before you start the migration, it's a good idea to create a redundancy plan. You want to have multiple copies of each file in case something happens to the original. One option might be to use two cloud service providers or leave a dedicated on-premises service to back up data.

2. Have a Migration Plan

It might seem as if every organization is making the move to the cloud. But before you make the leap yourself, it's important to pause, consider your organization's reasons for doing so, and put together a plan for the migration.

Specifically, you need to have a clear idea of what you're migrating and what, if anything, you are going to leave behind. Not having a plan in place can make the migration process more expensive and lead to errors.

When creating a migration plan, step one is deciding what the cloud will do for your organization. For example, you might want to utilize the cloud to make it easier to host enterprise workloads. Alternatively, you might use the cloud as a backup system, something that stores your organization's data safe in case of a disaster.

Next, consider your legacy data and systems and the interoperability between old and new applications. At this stage, you'll also need to consider the type of data you have and any regulations or requirements connected to it. It might make sense to start the migration process by first moving your organization's least critical and least sensitive data. If all goes well, you can focus on migrating the more critical and sensitive data later.

Finally, consider the encryption needs of the data. Sensitive data needs to be encrypted in transit and when it's at rest in the cloud.

3. Have a Strong IAM System

Following IAM best practices keep your data from falling into the wrong hands, protects its integrity, and ensures that authorized users remain able to access it. When developing an IAM system, focus on the following:

  • Encryption: Any data stored by your IAM needs to be encrypted while at rest and in transit or motion. Encrypting data at rest means that it's scrambled and indecipherable while it's stored in the cloud. Any identifying information someone provides, such as a password, access code, and username, also needs to be encrypted.
  • Strong passwords: Create a policy requiring users to make strong passwords and regularly change those passwords. For example, your system might require long passwords that contain a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols. The passwords might need to be changed every 60 or 90 days. It's harder to guess or crack strong passwords, enhancing your cloud security.
  • Two or multifactor authentication: With two or multifactor authentication (MFA), a user needs to provide at least one additional credential before logging in and getting access to data. The additional credential might be a code emailed or texted to them or a code sent to a security token or app.
  • Zero-trust: Add zero-trust to your IAM system to enhance the security of your data. With a zero-trust model, users always need to verify their identity before gaining access to data. It reduces the chance that an unauthorized party will access your data through a stored or remembered log-in credential.
  • The principle of least privilege: Not every employee needs access to every piece of data your company owns. The principle of least privilege assigns privileges to users based on what they need to perform their jobs efficiently and effectively. You can assign privileges based on an individual's role, group or user identity.
  • Create conditions: For some types of data, you might wish to create conditions that dictate when and how someone can access the data. For example, a user might be allowed to log in by providing a username and password. But if they want to open a particular file, they'll need to complete MFA.

4. Use a High-Performance Cloud Provider for Best Security

When you migrate data assets to a public cloud service provider you rely on them to protect your assets with security services and controls. You need a trustworthy foundation to meet evolving security requirements and configurable security options to meet the unique requirements of your organization’s deployments.

Elements to consider for cloud-based security include:

  • Assessment tools
  • Threat intelligence tools and applications
  • Access control and permission management
  • Lifecycle protection from devops to dataops
  • Data migration tools

All major cyber companies, providing unique security protection are integrated into cloud service offerings and available on cloud solutions. It’s smart cybersecurity practice to leverage their expertise as well for cloud-based implementation.

5. Use a High-Performance Data Integration Migration Platform

A successful data migration project does the following:

  • Provides insights on the data
  • Connects to all data points
  • Profiles the data
  • Pre-prepares the data for an efficient migration
  • Validates and reconciles the data between databases after the migration is finished

To ensure your data migration checks off all of the necessary boxes, it's helpful to use a high-performance cloud data platform, such as Dextrus. Data migration is among one of Dextrus's many solutions. It's an off-the-shelf data integration tool that improves data quality before the migration begins.

Dextrus migrates data at several levels: table, database or schema, using simple configurations. You don't need to execute Data Definition Language (DDL) scripts before you begin migration when using Dextrus. You can create data pipelines with Dextrus that ensure a smooth migration process, whether you take a phased data approach or a big-bang data approach.

Schedule a Dextrus Demo With RightData

Whether you're moving from an on-premises environment or changing cloud providers, migrating to the cloud can increase your organization's efficiency and save you time and money. RightData provides you with the tools you need to automate the migration process and test data migration pipelines.

Get a demo of Dextrus today to see how it works for yourself.