Oftentimes companies wait until they grow to a certain size or have a full technology stack before they begin thinking seriously about security. The problem with this is that, statistically, it’s a matter of when you will have a security problem, not if.
So our observation is: If you wait until your company reaches some arbitrary milestone before implementing mature security practices, you may already be late to the game. (If you’ll pardon the obvious, it’s not a great practice to put your life jacket on after your boat gets in trouble; it’s much better to put it on at the very start — i.e., as soon as you board the boat.)
Security maturity actually has nothing to do with the size of your operations — and a great deal to do with how you manage the risk that is inherent in any environment. Even in the smallest companies, security can have a major impact. And we’re not just talking about implementing two-factor authentication or using VPNs (although these are, of course, important). We’re talking about the importance of starting to use a comprehensive approach to monitoring and protecting your infrastructure (on-prem, cloud, or hybrid) as early as possible.
The good news is, today you don’t need dozens of security tools or a major budget to start building end-to-end protection. But you do need to be smart about when and how you implement security. If you haven’t integrated security into your operations from Day 1, this post reviews four transformative events (planned or otherwise) that signal when it’s time to get serious about your organization’s cloud security maturity.
1. You’re Transitioning From On-Premise to Cloud (or Hybrid)
While there are differences between cloud, hybrid, and on-premise security mindsets and practices (for details, see our most recent eBook: Moving to the Cloud: Your Guide to Planning a Secure and Frictionless Migration), the underlying tenets are the same: You want to protect your users, applications, and systems from internal and external threats. From a maturity standpoint, it’s actually better to have security in place before your transition starts so you can oversee any potential vulnerabilities or activities on any of your environments — on prem and cloud alike — than to wait until after you make the transition.
The point is, no matter where you are in your journey, whether it be all-in on the cloud, in transition, or operating a hybrid environment, you should still be thinking about security and leveraging best practices.
2. You’re Starting to Lose Visibility
Right this minute, can you say without a doubt that you have a clear picture of what’s going on anywhere within your infrastructure? Whether you operate on-premise, in the cloud, or in a hybrid setup, visibility is critical when it comes to doing security right. With more endpoints, users, and threats to contend with on a daily basis, it’s important that, no matter what your operations look like, you have end-to-end visibility. Especially given the acceleration of threats like phishing that can easily swipe a user password and infiltrate your system with the click of a button, it’s never too early to be on the lookout for these types of threats.
Even small companies with just a handful of employees can quickly lose visibility as more data is stored and processed, new users are added, and fresh servers and applications are spun up. Not knowing about new vulnerabilities, compromised files, or suspicious logins can be dangerous for the entire organization. The sooner you know the who, what, when, and where of any suspicious activity, the better off you will be at protecting your organization now and as it scales.
3. Operations Are Moving Faster Than Security
Especially in the cloud, security can fall behind the rapid pace of continuous development and continuous integration cycles. The moment you feel like you’re playing catch-up with the Operations team, you probably need to get on board with modern security practices. Security maturity is about increasing the velocity of your security operations, it’s about decreasing time-to-detection — and it’s about being able to quickly uncover nefarious activity anywhere across your environment and know what to do without needing to dig through logs to find out.
This may sound complicated, but it can be made a great deal easier using a modern, automated, integrated security platform such as Threat Stack that takes care of all of this so you can focus on what you need to do — move security maturity forward across your organization. Because such a platform will take care of most of the legwork for you, Security can move faster (certainly at the speed of Operations). This means you’ll always be aware of what’s going in your modern cloud infrastructure and will have the capability to be much more proactive about security responses.
4. Compliance Is Becoming Difficult to Manage
If you’re operating in a regulated industry, or have customers that do, chances are compliance has become a major issue for your organization. While there’s a lot of overlap between security and compliance when it comes to managing risk and protecting critical data and systems, there are some nuances.
If your business is small with limited resources, or you’re simply overwhelmed with how to maintain both compliance and security standards, you’re certainly not alone. It’s a lot to manage, even for large organizations. The good news is, checks and balances can be put in place early on to verify whether controls are being met (such as user or file access controls) so you can remediate issues quickly and guarantee the level of compliance you’ve promised to your customers, employees, auditors, regulators, and partners.
We often hear that companies feel confused about what to do when it comes to security these days. Now that so many threats are making the headlines, no one wants to be the next splashy story. So the time to get serious about security will always be sooner than you think. And remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect or complete. (In fact, attempting to be perfect can significantly hinder your progress.) Evaluate your needs, assess your resources, create a strategic plan, and build incrementally to make continuous improvements that will harden your posture as new threats present themselves.
If you didn’t bake security into your organization at the very outset (it’s a good idea — but few do), we believe the transformational events outlined above (individually or together) can act as clear signals for when it’s time to get serious about developing and implementing a comprehensive cybersecurity program.
Our advice: Prepare for threats before threats attack you. Heed the warning signs we’ve discussed above and integrate security into your operations. The result: You’ll have secure operations, be able to scale — and most important — you’ll be able to focus on achieving your business objectives.