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Why security needs to shape your journey to the cloud

It's estimated that 80% of workloads could be in the cloud in the next few years. New cloud-based technologies offer opportunities to drive innovation, automate and pursue new growth - or simply save money and be more efficient.

Accenture's latest report on Future Proof Secure Cloud explores challenges and common routes taken on the cloud journey and how security can manage risks and enable business outcomes. Businesses need to elevate the position of their CISOs to be part of the decision-making process for change, including cloud adoption. On the other hand, CISOs and their teams need to be in the mindset of how they are contributing to the organisation's brand, reputation, revenue and profit.

So what do businesses need to be thinking about on this journey? First, get all the facts.

Don't make these assumptions

The report goes into a few of the blindspots businesses overlook when adopting the cloud, which include a scarcity of the skills needed. Just under a third of CISOs say they don't have the skills needed to move into the cloud.

Accenture secure cloud and data lead for ANZ Angelo Friggieri says businesses assume in-house skillsets will cut it for their journey to the cloud when in fact, there's a need for a more diverse set of skills across the team.

The view on compliance is also a big one. Accenture's report found that it can't be treated as a point-in-time tick-boxing exercise against a series of control frameworks that are not comprehensive (or, in some cases, not relevant) for the cloud. Instead, there should be a focus on threat intelligence led vulnerability management targeted for a business' specific cloud and on-premise landscape.

Finally, Friggieri says thinking that the major cloud providers have budgets that are much higher than a lowly CISO for a single organisation is also a blindspot. He says there shouldn't be assumptions that their service must be inherently secure out of the box.

What to think about when using security to guide you into the cloud

Firstly, what are the business drivers and outcomes sought for cloud adoption beyond capex reduction? Friggieri says this helps support and balance the security focus.

Secondly, the proper training. Do your employees and users have the right training, awareness and organisational change support to understand their part in keeping the business secure?

This culture shift on security is vital. It's the realisation that security is engrained in all aspects of business and our lives. Security is no longer the sole responsibility of the IT Manager, the Security Manager, or the CISO. And nor is it a technology-only issue.

"Security incidents can and will have a direct impact on public trust, perception, market share, costs, and in some cases life or death. It's therefore making security a challenge but also an enabler for growth and innovation for a business that is understood by all with a shared responsibility by all," says Friggieri.

Security has to be part of the conversation at the inception of a new idea or project and also part of the governance and mitigation associated with real-life events.

"We have seen how the conflict in Ukraine, COVID-19, and recent key elections spiked an increase in cyber incidents and increase in activity by specific threat actors. They prove that cyber is not just a technology challenge. The sooner businesses realise this and elevate security, the role of the CISO or CRO will change, and the culture shift will occur," says Friggieri.

Thirdly, how are you shifting left, with security being part of the design process, the implementation, and the ongoing sustain and improvement of cloud services? Just as important, is how you are controlling it.

"Procuring cloud is perhaps too easy, and potential for IT departments to lose sight and control of all the services in use and connected in some way to the broader enterprise data holdings. Visibility is key," says Friggieri.

There's risk every time there is a shift, but the real threat is leaving your business exposed and unknowingly so. When it is so easy to procure cloud and IoT services, Accenture sees a loss of control when companies procure cloud services directly, without the IT department or security's awareness or endorsement.

"Not understanding the impact of misconfiguration, or even the configuration and continuous monitoring required to harden the cloud services as a result of unmanaged cloud adoption can be detrimental," says Friggieri.

"Depending on the industry, companies could face severe financial impact from fines associated with compliance and regulation, through to IP loss, and loss of market share. Our collective security quotient (SQ to your IQ) is improving as a society, and businesses that realise this have the opportunity to retain and gain market share. Showing your maturity and focus on security gives your customers a level of comfort and trust."

How Accenture is different

It has invested nearly USD $3 billion in its cloud and security capability over the last two years to build the most capable journey to global cloud service provider. As a result, it has leading dedicated cloud and security practices and offerings tailored to all major SaaS, PaaS and IaaS players and, in most cases, recognised as the partner of the year for multiple years running.

"We have delivered the most, the most complex, or the most transformational cloud journey's for our customers," says Friggieri.

"Combine this capability with our own lived experience - everything that it takes to run Accenture as a business is in the cloud. From Finance to HR, Marketing to Legal, our systems are cloud hosted, along with all new applications supporting all 700,000+ employees."

For more information about why security is so important when it comes to the cloud and why Accenture has everything you need to make that step click here.

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