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Blog — Mar 06, 2020

Castles in the Cloud: How to Take Your Business Kingdom Off-Prem with Confidence

4 minutes read
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Originally posted in Devops.com February 28, 2020

Cloud transformation requires migrating all or part of an organization’s virtual assets off-premises, typically to a public cloud. This enables greater efficiency and cost savings, among other benefits, but it brings heightened risk as well. At the same time, many organizations moving to the cloud don’t fully understand the implications in terms of security. Consequently, successful cloud migration requires a shift in mindset.

A Medieval Metaphor for Cloud Infrastructure

Think of your organization as a kingdom surrounded and protected by a castle. Traditionally, this castle would be outfitted with defensive layers designed to protect the residents, the royal family and the possessions within. Protection of the castle is straightforward. A moat surrounds the castle with drop bridges in and out at strategic points (firewalls).

In addition, guards are stationed at each entry point, conducting a thorough inspection of the people, carts and the content that they carry both in and out of the castle (IDS/IPS). The guards also check credentials at the gates and within the castle to ensure patrons are cleared for access and use of rooms and resources (IAM). The perimeter and interior walls are continuously checked for weaknesses that could introduce potential blind spots that are unguarded (vulnerability management).

The castle has a variety of rooms, each with its own function, content and worth. Each door has a lock (AV). Within each room and the correlative hallways exist guards who check credentials, monitor the people who enter and the contents they carry, etc. (behavioral detection and endpoints). In addition, multiple other measures are in place that bolster prevention, detection and response capabilities (DLP, deception, etc.). Information from all of these sources is noted in a central location by a scribe. Guards analyze the information, looking for additional indicators of potential threats to the kingdom (SIEM) and respond accordingly.

Comprehensively, protection of the kingdom requires an overall model and policies that accounts for new threats and tactics from rival kingdoms and thieves. Architecture of security measures are continuously updated and adaptable. In the event of an incident, the guards have designed and exercised a plan to respond.

Understanding the Three Different Models of Cloud

Clearly, this is a basic metaphor for the on-prem approach. Moving to the cloud introduces a new level of complexity to protection spread across three different models: Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Platform as a service (PaaS) or Software as a service (SaaS).

In the context of our castle analogy, let’s assume the castle has reached productive capacity. Neighboring rivals are creating competitive pressures, offering residents (who pay taxes) the possibility of a better life if they relocate. To keep residents happy, productivity requires expansion beyond castle walls. As production expands, neighboring kingdoms offer different models to achieve productivity. However, each model presents different levels of shared responsibility in protection (referred to as the Shared Responsibility Model).

With this transformation, Kingdom A faces a more complex security landscape. Innovation and efficiency are critical to meeting the growing and changing demands of their kingdom, but not without additional risks. New operating models bring new risks and potential vulnerabilities to their system(s). Methodologies and processes used to secure their own kingdom do not necessarily work or apply to protecting their new partner kingdoms. Additionally, people–and experience–that understand these new complexities are harder to come by while the thieves and rival kingdoms discover vulnerabilities and weaknesses and begin to exploit and steal valuables that put the entire kingdom and its residents at risk.

Protecting Your Castle in the Cloud Takes a Deep Understanding

Moving to the cloud is almost inevitable at this point, and it carries so much potential to accelerate business outcomes. It takes a different mindset to secure it than what we are used to as an industry–the landscape has been changed from a security perspective. By fully studying and understanding the differences, organizations can continue rapid and secure adoption of the cloud, while reaping the benefits that it promises to bring.

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eSentire is the Authority in Managed Detection and Response, protecting the critical data and applications of 1500+ organizations in 80+ countries from known and unknown cyber threats. Founded in 2001, the company’s mission is to hunt, investigate and stop cyber threats before they become business disrupting events. Combining cutting-edge machine learning XDR technology, 24/7 Threat Hunting, and proven security operations leadership, eSentire mitigates business risk, and enables security at scale. The Team eSentire difference means enterprises are protected by the best in the business with a named Cyber Risk Advisor, 24/7 access to SOC Cyber Analysts & Elite Threat Hunters, and industry-leading threat intelligence research from eSentire’s Threat Response Unit (TRU). eSentire provides Managed Risk, Managed Detection and Response and Incident Response services. For more information, visit www.esentire.com and follow @eSentire.