Your Personal Guide to Cloud Security 101

So, you’ve finally gotten the cloud security conversation started at your organization, have a rough budget set aside, and your team is eager to get started. Now what? If you’re new to the world of security, have never managed security in the cloud before, or simply need some guardrails to help you get started, this post will break down everything you need to know.

Below are five sequenced steps to take when embarking on a new cloud security journey. Follow them and you’ll be on the path to strengthening your organization’s cloud security posture.

1. First Things First

Cloud security can seem like a complex and overwhelming task at first glance. Instead of boiling the ocean over it, the very first thing you need to do is decide who will lead security efforts in your organization and how decisions will be made. As you go along, a lot of decisions will come up, many that can significantly affect how strong your security is, so it’s important to establish a leader who is charged with spearheading all of these efforts before going any further. This doesn’t necessarily mean hiring a VP of Security right away — it could be as simple as appointing a security analyst or director of operations to oversee efforts. And if you are a smaller SaaS company with limited resources, this is definitely the best route to follow.

Read this post for our best advice on appointing a leader, enabling them to succeed, and getting your team and stakeholders on board with all of this.

2. Work Backwards to Establish a Security Strategy

Next up, you need some direction. While a full-on security strategy may not be necessary at the outset, it is important to establish some baseline goals and related initiatives so you know where to steer the ship. Rather than focusing security efforts at outside threats like nation-state attacks, we recommend looking inwards at what your unique threats look like and building protections around those.

This inside-out approach to security ensures that you are fully addressing the most relevant threats to your company, not just ones that make the headlines. (Fact is, companies are much more likely to be hit by a common vulnerability exploit or phishing scam than they are a nation-state attack, so plan accordingly).

In this post, we explain a practical, straightforward five-step process you can use to create an inside-out security strategy.

3. Put the Right People Processes, and Technologies in Place

With a leader appointed and a sound strategy in place, it’s time to get tactical. To put your security plan in motion, you need the right people, processes, and technologies. Again, when you’re just starting off, your security organization may be as small as two people with just a handful of tools and a few key processes. That’s okay, and in fact we recommend starting off slow to make sure you’re doing things right.

It’s the job of the security team lead to get the right people in the organization involved, identify the processes required to address your security priorities, and find the technologies that can make this all happen.

We lay out practical guidelines for each of these areas in this blog post.

4. Be Wise About the Tools You Adopt

Taking the preceding post a step further, it can’t be understated how important it is to select the right tools for the job. It’s easy to fall for shiny object syndrome or a suave vendor pitch, but tools you acquire this way are often the ones that will end up in the technology graveyard in your company. Instead, identify the specific needs of your company (such as alerting, intrusion detection, continuous monitoring, reporting, etc.) and choose tools that fit your checklist. You also want to be sure the tools you use can easily integrate with or support others, are easy for your team to use, and will scale as your company grows.

Take a look at our full guide on how to choose the right criteria for tools that will be useful for your security efforts in this blog post.

5. Do More With Less

Especially if you’re a small cloud company, it’s important to keep it simple. Following the four steps above is a great way to start, but you can optimize your time and resources further by making security a core part of the business. This means you should aim to instill security as a core value for the company so everyone can be on the lookout for potential threats, not just you. This can help catch issues like phishing attempts, password theft, and even physical device theft.

Furthermore, if you can find ways to automate security and build security into general business processes, issues can be caught early so you’re left with much less to clean up.

In this post, we explain what a lean security organization looks like and four ways to build one, taking the points already covered in this post into account.

On Your Way to Securing Your Company

Security can seem overwhelming, but only if you make it that way. Start with the basics and you will be able to cover your topmost priorities and issues. Over time, your security needs will grow and evolve, and so, too, will your security organization. Remember: Keep it lean and simple to begin. As you scale and grow, continue to assess your security priorities, improve your security baseline, and provide ongoing coverage to optimize your workflows, resource use, and security posture.

For a more detailed guide on implementing cloud security, be sure to download a copy of our free guide, Lean Cloud Security: Your Guide to SecOps Efficiency in the Cloud. This guide walks you through more specifics that will ensure that you achieve the strongest security posture using the resources you have available.

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