DevOps / Security / Sponsored / Contributed

Cloud Security in the Age of COVID-19

23 Apr 2020 7:48am, by

Prisma, from Palo Alto Networks, sponsored this post.

Matt Chiodi
Matt has nearly two decades of security leadership experience and is currently the chief security officer of Public Cloud at Palo Alto Networks.

COVID-19 has driven the demand for cloud-based remote access tools to nosebleed levels. However, while the majority of IT and cybersecurity leaders are now focused on remote access and securing that access, an equally challenging issue looms: after a temporary slowdown, cloud transformation projects are back with a vengeance due to COVID-19. Security professionals must arm themselves for the resurgence of these projects.

The cloud is not new. But in the era of COVID-19, executives and the general public are getting a taste of the resilience that the cloud offers. Microsoft, for example, noted that in Italy there was a 775% increase in calling and meeting monthly users for the Teams product in a one month period.

Opportunity Zone

This has led to what I like to call the Opportunity Zone (see image above), which brings with it three distinct opportunities that may never be presented again. Herein lies the opportunity for security professionals to get ahead:

  1. Time to reflect. The COVID-19 crisis has forced most of us to slow down and think beyond “business as usual.” This “global slowing” allows us the opportunity to think and analyze. Is our current security program positioned to address risk effectively in a post COVID-19 world? While corporate cloud transformation projects for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) have temporarily slowed, attackers have not. Recent Unit 42 research has found threat actors utilizing cloud infrastructure to conduct malicious COVID-19 related operations. While COVID-19 may be front and center now, it is likely to permanently change certain user behaviors forever. Is your security program ready for this? Now is the time to pull together your team, analyze the current and potential future state, and make a plan.
  2. Time to transform. Prior to COVID-19, security teams were just beginning to experiment with cloud native security. Much of this was highlighted by a recent Unit 42 Cloud Threat Report, which highlighted massive vulnerabilities in commonly used Infrastructure as Code (IaC) templates. Whether your security team is taking advantage of IaC templates or not, your developers already are — and likely have been for a long time. What changes could you make today for a cloud native security future? If the bedrock of your security program has been relying on legacy tools like layer-3 firewalls and IP-based vulnerability scanners, now is the time to start proof of values (POVs) with Cloud Native Security Platforms (CNSP) or what Gartner is now calling Cloud-Native Application Protection Platforms (CNAPP).
  3. Time to experiment. During times of crisis there is often a higher tolerance for trying new things. Businesses are often looking for new revenue streams and this leads to a renewed appetite for risk, skewed towards doing things differently than before. As most new projects are digital, ideas on whiteboard will likely eventually end up in the cloud. How can you position your team to have complete visibility, governance and compliance across virtual machines, containers and serverless – both on-premises and in the cloud? This question is critical as the Opportunity Zone is open to the entire business, not just security. This means that others will experiment as well. What new ground will security break and how will you get ahead of the pent-up demand?

Start Small

While the COVID-19 crisis is one for the history books, it is presenting security professionals with an unprecedented opportunity while in the Opportunity Zone. The question for security professionals is: will you use this crisis to emerge as a new leader in your organization? This window of opportunity will not stay open forever; in fact, we all hope it closes soon. Start small, scale fast, fail quickly and make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity while in the zone.

Feature image from Pixabay.

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