How To Manage Cloud Risk

Thursday, September 24, 2020

The cloud has helped to improve technological services exponentially over the last decade. However with new technology comes new risks. When new ground is constantly being broken, it is difficult to account for every potential situation that can occur and plan for them accordingly. But now that the cloud has been a cornerstone of the computing market for several years, there are best practices that can be followed to minimise the risk posed to businesses, organisations, and individuals.

Beyond keeping an organisation safer, a strong cloud management practice will improve multiple areas of a business. Some of these include efficiency and customer satisfaction, amongst others. Some of the difficulties associated with implementing an effective cloud management strategy are compliance and regulatory requirements, affordability, provider management, and cloud governance. But with careful consideration and planning these can be overcome.

This article will cover some basic elements around minimising cloud risk. If you are concerned about the security of your cloud processes then read on below to start your journey towards a safer cloud infrastructure.

What is cloud risk?

Despite its sophistication, cloud systems are still under much of the same threats as traditional data centers. There are key differences to the application of the threats, but the processes are very similar. 

Information systems stored on the cloud can be vulnerable to threats that impact the way an organisation functions and operates. This can include the loss of data, theft, and systems going down. Cloud risk management can be thought of as an all encompassing process that covers every part of a business. It must be coordinated across multiple areas to find, identify and mitigate risk. These three stages are often termed risk assessment, risk mitigation, and risk control.

When should you consider cloud risk management?

There can always be improvements to be made within a cloud ecosystem. However there are some key times that proper cloud management needs to be carefully considered to minimise the risk of certain activities. Below are some of the most common scenarios where cloud management should be a top priority.

  • You have decided to make big changes to your cloud system
  • You are implementing a cloud strategy and need to determine a direction
  • You want to understand what services should be prioritised for migration and figure out how prepared they are
  • You outsource services to a third party

How to manage cloud risk

For a clear risk management strategy there has to be multiple systems in place, an understanding of direction, and how this is controlled. To establish this, the below points are necessary to work out.

Who is responsible?

Everyone involved with the cloud ecosystem must know what their responsibilities are. Each Actor has to understand their own actions and also make sure their colleagues and seniors are also aware of how they must act to help protect the integrity of the cloud.

Risk Assessment

Risk can be considered as the chance of a negative occurrence happening, timesed by the significance of the impact this negative occurrence would have. When considering risk management it is important to establish how likely each of the vulnerabilities in a system could be exploited and what the impact of this could be. This is the basis for a risk assessment, which alongside risk treatment and risk control, form the basis of a risk management framework.

Risk Treatment

Risk treatment is the next stage on from the assessment. This is where plans and policies to resolve the issues highlighted in the assessment are put together. How will security controls be implemented and what impact this will have on the business. 

Risk Control

With the previous two stages completed, it’s vitally important to continually review the effectiveness of the systems that are in place. When an event takes place, the impact and the resilience of the system to deal with it should be reviewed and fed back to all parties responsible with mitigating risk. 

The above framework needs to be worked on and tailored to each specific organisation. While there are industry best practices to follow, each business is unique and requires a certain level of bespoke designing to make sure the risk management strategies are appropriate to the situation. Effectively implementing a risk management strategy is vitally important to protect a company, but alongside this, a strong strategy can improve a business by helping to establish areas of weakness and inefficiency.