Guide to securing data during cloud migration

Cloud Computing Security.
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More and more organizations are moving mission-critical systems and data to the cloud. Migration between cloud services of any type presents security concerns, but migration between public cloud services represents the largest security breach with severe consequences.

see: Data Migration Testing Checklist: Through Before and After Migration (Tech Republic Premium)

This guide covers the most common security threats enterprises face during cloud migrations and the best practices they can follow to combat these threats.


Is data safe in cloud migration?

Public cloud adoption continues to accelerate, with half of all study respondents’ workloads and data residing in public clouds, according to the Flexera State of the Cloud Report 2022. As a result of this growth, so are concerns about data security during cloud migrations.

Some of these security issues include:

API Vulnerability

The application programming interfaces used to connect cloud applications, data and infrastructure can be a major weakness in cloud data security. APIs can have weak authentication and authorization controls, lack of sandbox protection, and excessive privileges. Organizations should carefully evaluate these vulnerabilities when migrating data to the cloud.

security blind spot

Cloud data can also be at risk because of security blind spots in cloud infrastructure. Issues such as using software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications for sensitive data and creating shadow IT networks are common in some cloud environments. Organizations need to be aware of these potential vulnerabilities when migrating to the cloud and take steps to mitigate them.

Compliance requirements

Many organizations must comply with regulatory requirements when migrating data to the cloud. Security compliance requirements can be a significant issue for organizations, especially if cloud providers do not meet these requirements.

data loss

Finally, migrating data to the cloud can increase the risk of data loss. This is especially true if your cloud provider doesn’t have strong controls in place to protect and recover your data in the event of a security incident.

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Tips for Data Security in Cloud Migration

While there are many potential security issues that can arise during a cloud migration, there are also some steps teams can take to better protect their applications and data. We recommend these 7 tips to protect your organization’s data during a cloud migration.

data understanding

Companies preparing to migrate to the cloud must ensure that they have an accurate understanding of their data and requirements. This means that the migration team needs to be aware of the current and future usage of the data, as well as the storage and retention policies established by the company’s data governance framework.

A number of cloud management tools are available to assist with some of these data understanding and optimization efforts, including data deduplication software. Cloud data security starts with understanding what it contains and how it is ultimately used and/or disposed of.

Understanding Data Compliance Requirements

In addition to understanding the data itself, organizations need to be aware of the regulatory compliance requirements that apply to their data sets during cloud migration.

see: GDPR Security Pack: Policies for Data Protection and Compliance (Tech Republic Premium)

For example, many businesses are subject to regulatory frameworks such as GDPR, PCI-DSS, and HIPAA. This includes stringent requirements for the removal of personally identifiable information prior to data migration.

Organizations should ensure that their cloud infrastructure providers meet regulatory compliance requirements or implement additional controls where necessary.

API Security

When migrating data to the cloud, it is essential to secure the various APIs that control access between cloud applications and infrastructure. For improved API security, you can start by using strong authentication and admission control, protecting APIs from malicious or automated attacks, and removing excessive user access rights.

Data encryption in transit

Transferring data from cloud migrations can introduce additional security vulnerabilities. One effective way to protect sensitive information is to use end-to-end encryption.

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This process is usually done using cryptographic protocols such as Transport Layer Security. This protocol adds an extra layer of security by encrypting all data before it leaves the source system and decrypting it once it arrives at the destination system. Depending on the level of protection you need, you can choose from a variety of encryption algorithms, but most use modern industry standards such as AES or RSA.

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In addition, companies must securely store all encryption keys and credentials required for access and regularly back them up in case of data loss. Leveraging cloud providers that offer built-in encryption services can simplify this process. However, businesses still need to do their due diligence to ensure they have the right tools and security measures in place before starting the migration.

Restricting Data Access During Cloud Migration

Restricting access to data during a cloud migration is an important step for businesses looking to transfer information securely. If necessary, several steps must be taken to ensure that only the intended users have access to the data. These steps include:

  • Implement and enforce user-level authentication and authorization rules
  • Set up a strong two-factor authentication process
  • Use the cloud provider’s built-in security policies
  • Enable encryption of all data before transmission
  • Audit users with access regularly during the migration period
  • Complete periodic vulnerability scans on systems with sensitive information during migration
  • Deletion of credentials or access keys associated with terminated employees

Consider a phased migration strategy

Migrating data all at once is never a good idea, especially when dealing with large amounts of sensitive information. A step-by-step migration strategy can help prevent data loss or other security issues, and organizations can establish processes to prevent unauthorized access to data while it is in transit.

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It’s also usually easier to implement security measures on a small scale and then scale them out as needed over time. This allows businesses to proactively identify and address potential risks before they become bigger problems.

Implementation of disposal and disinfection activities

Decommissioning refers to the inspection of all remaining devices, drives and servers in the data center. Create a checklist documenting all of that hardware to make sure you remove everything from your current cloud or on-premise storage server.

see: Checklist: Building and Decommissioning Data Centers (Tech Republic Premium)

You should also ensure that any data stored in the offsite location is securely deleted. It can also be helpful to conduct a security audit of your cloud infrastructure provider to ensure that it has strong security measures in place to protect and monitor its systems.

How can I avoid data loss during cloud migration?

Here are some steps businesses can take to prevent data loss during cloud migration:

  • Utilize strong encryption and authentication tools for data in transit
  • Restrict access to sensitive data during migration and regularly audit who has access.
  • Backing up critical data from systems that are not central to your migration plan
  • Leverage a phased migration approach that allows for a gradual and controlled transition
  • Implementation of security measures such as decommissioning, which removes and wipes all devices, drives and servers from the source system
  • We work with cloud providers that have built-in security measures and protocols to protect your data throughout the migration process.

By taking proactive steps to protect data during cloud migration and carefully planning the migration process to comply with regulatory requirements, businesses can ensure that their most important assets are not lost or damaged during the process.

Read the following: Best Cloud and Application Migration Tools (Tech Republic)


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