As companies move to the cloud, they can become a bit complacent when it comes to a security strategy. Taking the inherently more secure cloud environment for granted, they neglect to put the kinds of controls and policies in place that are needed for proper protection.

The operational efficiencies that a cloud move can bring from a business perspective are great, but the new way of operating does create some challenges in terms of redefining the “fortress” that protects your data and your networks.

It’s important to closely examine the components and edge elements of your network and how you’re protecting them and the data that travels through and across them.

It’s all about strategy

A security policy starts with determining where you are and where you need to be. It involves a thorough understanding of your data – where it is, who is accessing it and why, and the importance of each of the many levels of data your company runs on.

Customer information, of course, will always be priority one. If confidential customer data is lost or hacked or somehow compromised, it could very well ruin your business. And that’s even before the monster-sized fines that you might face under GDPR jurisdiction.

Evaluate all the other levels of information you handle and retain, assessing all the safeguards currently in place to protect them.

Once you identify the data that is truly core to your business, then think recovery, in terms of where you back up your data and how you would access it if some major hack or other business or physical disaster occurred.

While your first priority is keeping attackers at bay and preventing them from gaining even an initial foothold into your system, you can enhance your defense strategy by first understanding what they might be after as well as the actions they might take if they breach your walls.

Test yourself

With that in mind, an important piece of your security strategy should be to constantly test your own defenses.

Proactive, defensive hacking of a company’s own internal system is very effective, although more focus is required here for many businesses. Internal testing really does represent a game changer in the way companies defend themselves from a cyber security standpoint. There is no better way to identify your vulnerabilities and how to plug holes than to have determined good-guy hackers attack you from every angle.

As we move to automating this type of testing, companies will be able to constantly probe its network for weak spots and help address points of vulnerability. However, implementing this effectively on a large scale is only possible with significant utilization of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Fortunately, we’re almost to the point where this is a reality.

Looking to the future

Some see the military wars of the future as our drones and robots fighting the drones and robots of our adversaries. This scenario is already true in security, as hackers increasingly rely on AI as a “weapon” in their attacks. So now it’s the good guys’ turn to call for technological reinforcements.

One tactic that hackers use, and will continue to exploit, is to move very slowly to avoid detection once they penetrate your system. They implement this stealth approach to mimic normal activity and then gradually, almost invisibly, gain control of your network and your critical data.

A new solution from Sprint Business, Secure AI, can perform eight million computations per second, and is designed to analyze every single process and activity going on among elements inside a network. It evaluates all the different behaviors to detect anything suspicious – even those gradual increments that a patient hacker might try to sneak by.

By making optimal use of AI, it determines what situations are truly worthy of alerts, rather than raising red flags too often as some systems do. This will help ease the “alert fatigue” that so often plagues security professionals.

The security landscape will soon evolve from an overwhelming choice of products, each seemingly designed to address niche needs, to more comprehensive platforms. The formerly discrete products will become features of the larger platform in a consolidation that will benefit companies of all sizes, including enterprises.

Rather than having to purchase a solution for each specific system gap or security hole, companies will move to consolidated ‘detect-respond-remediate’ systems with single panes of glass that will allow them to efficiently manage their security profile and all their countermeasures from a centralized location.

However, in the future, just as today, no protection will be foolproof. No matter how many security precautions are deployed, a hacker may somehow find a way in. The best approach is ensure your system is well-guarded so that you can detect threats as quickly as possible and then immediately remediate that vulnerability.

The challenge for companies is to combine all defenses – both reactive and proactive – and constantly refresh and update them. Endless testing is a requisite to continually reassess threats and craft responses to eliminate them. Security requires diligence and a 24/7 focus. Hackers don’t take time off. Neither can your security strategy.