The day starts like any other. You’re finally starting to feel like you’ve got a handle on the security posture of your enterprise, because you’ve been able to add a reasonable amount of visibility into the infrastructure:

  • You have a Netflow collector reporting anomalies.
  • Taps or network packet brokers are installed at key ingress/egress points.
  • Vulnerability management systems are implemented to scan networks or devices and report regularly.
  • Firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS) and other malware detection mechanisms send log and alert data to a security information and event management system (SIEM) or a managed security service provider (MSSP).
  • A centralized log correlation system is deployed to meet the needs of security and assist operations with troubleshooting.


Then the unthinkable happens.


Your boss waltzes in to tell you, “We’re moving to the cloud. Isn’t that exciting?!” While management is already counting the money they think they’re going to save by eliminating on-premise systems and reducing head-count, all you feel is frustration and dread. How are you going to do this all over again, and in the cloud, without the organization going broke or your team having a nervous breakdown?


Remain calm and don’t surrender to nerd rage. While challenging, there are ways to use some of your existing tools and leverage similar ones built into software-as-a-service (SaaS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings in order to meet your security needs.


For example, you can still use network monitoring tools such as Netflow to track anomalies at key ingress/egress points between the enterprise and the Iaas or SaaS. To implement access restrictions, you could set up a dedicated virtual private network (VPN) tunnel between your physical network and the cloud environment, forcing your users through traditional, on-premise controls. Additionally, most cloud providers offer the ability to create access control lists (ACLs) and security zones. This provides another method of restricting access to resources. By leveraging VPN tunnels, ACLs and logging ingress/egress firewall rules from your network to the cloud service, you can create an audit trail that will prove useful during and post breach.


Other useful access control methods are the addition of multi-factor authentication (MFA) or single-sign-on (SSO) to your cloud service or infrastructure. We all know the problems with passwords, but this becomes even more frightening when you consider your services and data are in a multi-tenant environment. Many cloud providers support free or paid MFA integration. Moreover, you’ll want to leverage the provider’s SSO capabilities to ensure that you’re controlling, auditing and removing administrative access centrally. When choosing a cloud service, these requirements should be in your RFP in order to ensure that a provider’s offerings in this realm align with your security model and compliance initiatives.


If you already have security products you’re comfortable with, you generally don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Because of multi-tenancy, you won’t be able to install physical taps and IDS appliances, but you have other options in applying more traditional controls to IaaS and Saas.  Many companies offer versions of their products that work within cloud environments. Network firewalls, IDS, web application firewalls (WAF), logging systems, vulnerability scanners; a simple search in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) marketplace should alleviate your fears.


Finally, many providers have an administrative console with APIs and external logging capabilities. AWS’ Cloudtrail and Cloudwatch are just two examples.  With some effort, these can be integrated with either an on-premise or outsourced SIEM.


Migrating to the cloud can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be the end of security as you know it. Your team must be prepared to shift the way you apply controls. With some tweaks, some of them will still work, but others might need to be abandoned. The cloud seems to be here to stay, so security must adapt.