When organisations embrace cloud technology or embark on other digital transformation initiatives, they definitely recognise the significance of governance and security. However, they often treat these two pillars of their organisation as separate entities. Usually, they prioritise governance, since it’s closely tied to their organisational identity. Governance establishes the rules and regulations that define the operational parameters within which the organisation functions.
Unfortunately, when security becomes a consideration later on, without taking the organisational identity into account, organisations often struggle to align security requirements with their governance rules. They aim to protect their IT systems and prevent unauthorized access without compromising their identity. However, when security is implemented without considering governance, the result can be an impenetrable fortress akin to Fort Knox. While security may be high then, it fails to align with governance and hinders operational efficiency.
Not every organisation needs to be a Fort Knox. The key is to smartly manage your security requirements in a manner that makes sense for your organisation. For example, a hospital managing patient files has other governance rules and security requirements than a car rental company. Therefore, it’s essential to conduct a thorough analysis of the organisation’s unique situation, business needs, and IT requirements. This analysis should inform an integrated approach to building governance and security, taking into account the associated risks and benefits.
Five key challenges in governance
From a governance perspective, several notable challenges arise, particularly in relation to the adoption of cloud technology:
- Data protection and privacy
Organisations have a vested interest in protecting their sensitive data. They are also concerned about compliance with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). These regulations require organisations to implement various security measures that prevent unauthorized access and address data leaks. However, not all regulations are equally relevant to every organisation. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to security.
- Industry-specific regulations
Each industry has its own compliance and regulatory challenges. For instance, the banking sector operates under different rules compared to the healthcare sector, necessitating unique solutions. Each organisation needs to ascertain which regulations are relevant to their industry.
- Cost control
Organisations adopting cloud strategies can easily exceed their budget due to the pay-per-use model. Consequently, cost control and optimisation become significant concerns. It’s imperative to consider what exactly you need to do in the cloud, and be smart about utilizing cloud resources as efficiently as possible.
- Avoiding vendor lock-in
When choosing a cloud provider, organisations are rightly concerned that it would be difficult to migrate their applications to another provider later. They don’t want to become locked into a single provider’s closed ecosystem. The solution lies in being aware of relying on functionality specific to a particular cloud provider, and opting for a cloud-agnostic approach whenever possible.
- Resource provisioning and management
Cloud resources are often provisioned on demand, resulting in inefficient resource usage. An even greater challenge arises when these resources are individually configured. This leads to a configuration drift that is difficult to manage and may give rise to subtle security vulnerabilities.
Integrating governance and security
Good governance naturally encompasses good security practices. So, how can organisations achieve this integration successfully?
- Identity and Access Management (IAM)
Implementing a robust Identity and Access Management (IAM) system is the most crucial step. An IAM system grants control over resource access and defines the actions that users can perform, thereby providing a vital security layer for the IT infrastructure. Determining the access privileges granted to individuals, in line with the organisation’s governance, is an effective way to integrate governance and security through IAM.
- Policies and processes for access and configuration
Organisations need well-defined policies regarding encryption and security measures for protecting their data, in accordance with their governance rules. However, effective encryption must be accompanied by properly designed processes that prevent unauthorized access and misconfiguration.
- Enhanced visibility and monitoring
Providing visibility on an organisation’s IT environment is critical for prioritizing security measures. Therefore, investing in the right monitoring tools is a primary consideration. However, to fully leverage these tools, you must establish a policy and a standard baseline for determining normalcy and identifying deviations from it.
- Data classification and mitigation
If a monitoring tool detects an anomaly that indicates a security threat, you should also be able to mitigate the threat promptly and prevent damage. To achieve this efficiently, it’s important to establish processes for data classification. This enables you to quickly analyse the impact of a threat and facilitates decision-making regarding the necessary actions to limit the damage.
At Cegeka, we firmly believe in approaching governance and security as interconnected aspects. We provide end-to-end solutions to tackle the aforementioned challenges by using Microsoft technology, encompassing IAM, continuous monitoring, and a Security Operations Center (SOC) for effective incident response. Additionally, we apply best practices for cloud security and focus on education and training of both our employees and our clients se we can support our customers in their challenges.
In our upcoming blog article, we’ll delve deeper into our approach and the Microsoft solutions we use to seamlessly integrate governance and security.