On-Premises to Cloud Migration: When to Conduct Vulnerability Assessments and Pen Tests

On-Premises to Cloud Migration: When to Conduct Vulnerability Assessments and Pen Tests

Moving to the cloud delivers many benefits for organizations, including reduced costs, seamless access, and improved performance. While many companies have transitioned from on-premises to cloud migration, cybersecurity risks remain. As such, no migration would be complete without vulnerability assessments and pen tests.

No matter where you are on your cloud adoption journey, there are opportunities to streamline the process and strengthen security.

The Fundamentals of On-Premises to Cloud Migration

Cloud migration can encompass moving data, applications, and other IT services. This article’s context is about transferring your data and applications from an on-premises model to the cloud. You can move to a public, private, or hybrid cloud in this ecosystem. Your selection depends on many factors related to operations, budgets, access, and data types.

There are several types of cloud migration, and vulnerability assessments and pen tests should accompany each.

Types of Cloud Migration

As you develop a cloud migration strategy, you’ll define it first by the type of migration.

Rehosting

A rehosting cloud migration is a lift-and-shift model. The movement takes applications, data, and workloads from a data center to an IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) framework. There is no change, which can impact the usability of apps if they are not cloud native. This use case works best for on-premises workloads that are low impact or as a first step to a full migration.

The role of vulnerability assessments and pen tests in this application can support a few things, including:

  • Understanding the versions of applications and if they are up to date
  • Identifying security risks of the current state and remediation measures to take before and after the move
  • Discovering exploitable issues in your existing setup and fixing them when they reach the cloud

Refactoring

This type of cloud migration focuses on redesigning, restructuring, and rewriting the architecture of applications. It can also involve data and schemas. In this option, you’re reconfiguring apps to be cloud native. It can be time- and labor-intensive since it’s a long-term solution.

A vulnerability assessment can deliver valuable insights as you redesign so that you can be secure by design. After the move, cloud and application pen tests will provide you with information on what new risks may be on the landscape.

Replatforming

Replatforming involves changes to an application that still retains its core components. An example is altering how applications interact with databases now hosted in the cloud. Since an application and database are often connected, you’ll find that a vulnerability assessment will bring missing patches and misconfigurations within your apps. Adding an application penetration test supports re-platforming as well by:

  • Testing authentications
  • Evaluating encryption and its potential weaknesses
  • Assessing access controls
  • Looking for business logic flaws that could impact security

Replacing

In this migration, data from an existing on-premises application moves to a SaaS (software-as-a-service) option. In a SaaS environment, it’s crucial to understand weaknesses. SaaS pen tests can:

  • Locate and prioritize vulnerabilities
  • Ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations
  • Protect customer data
  • Deliver a cost-effective structure for cybersecurity initiatives

SaaS pen tests should become an ongoing exercise when you adopt them in your organization. Pairing them with vulnerability assessments lets you dig deeper into possible concerns about your software.

An on-premises to cloud migration has many pieces to the puzzle. Your company can realize significant benefits, but you need an eye toward proactive cybersecurity to achieve them.

On-Premises to Cloud Migration Trends, Challenges, and Benefits

Cloud migration has accelerated since 2020, with 70% of companies advancing it. Additionally, 72% are making cloud-based the default for any new technology. However, this progress has not been without challenges. Those at the top of the list were security management, costs, and skills gaps in their internal teams.

These limitations stand between you and the benefits. There are ways to overcome these with vulnerability assessments and pen tests.

  • Security management: Decision-makers have worries about cloud security and data privacy. Data breaches from the cloud are an unfortunate headline, but you don’t have to become a statistic. Regular assessments keep you aware and proactive, while pen tests identify issues for you to remediate.
  • Costs: Cloud costs can add up but are still much lower than on-premises models. Vulnerability assessments and pen tests are costly but much less expensive than dealing with a data breach or ransomware.
  • Skills gap: The cybersecurity industry has a massive labor problem, impacting businesses in every sector. However, you can partner with a seasoned cybersecurity firm to help with remediation and ongoing fixes post-pen tests.

By addressing these issues, you’ll derive so many benefits.

Top Benefits of Migrating to the Cloud from On-Premises

The cloud has much to offer. You can achieve its advantages when you have a controlled migration that prioritizes cybersecurity.

  • Increase accessibility: Cloud-first enterprises connect disparate teams across the country or world. In today’s working world, being remote is the norm, and the cloud ensures access to all. Just be sure to add multi-factor authentication and other cybersecurity best practices.
  • Strengthen performance and agility: On-premises data centers often run slow and need constant attention. The cloud removes these issues and allows for high performance, no matter the load. As you add more applications or frameworks to the cloud, you don’t have to sacrifice security for performance.
  • Improve scalability: The cloud is dynamic and elastic. You can balance short-term surge needs with long-term growth. New resources and applications will be part of this and decommissioning old ones. Enable scale while boosting security with vulnerability assessment and pen tests.
  • Support security and compliance: Everything associated with a cloud migration has a security risk. You won’t know all of these without assessments and pen tests. When you leverage these tactics and techniques, you continue to fortify security. Additionally, they’ll help you achieve regulatory compliance with HIPAA, PCI-DSS, SOC 2 Type 2, and more.

The cloud seems to be an ideal fit for any need, so what steps should you take to begin a migration?

Key Steps for On-Premises to Cloud Migrations

As you develop a plan, you must consider many possibilities, challenges, use cases, timelines, and more. These steps can help you stay organized and focused on the goal:

Define Your Plan

Don’t do anything without developing a strategy. You need to determine many things in this first step, including:

  • The type of migration
  • Your specific goals and use cases for the move
  • What you need to move
  • The consequences in terms of access, security, and compliance
  • Creating an inventory of assets along with results from vulnerability assessments
  • The techniques you’ll use to identify current risks and issues before you move to the cloud
  • Due diligence regarding the type of cloud, costs, resource availability, and specific responsibilities

Build Out Your Security Pillars

Once you have an overall plan, it’s time to get specific about security. There are many facets under this umbrella term. You’ll need to cover:

  • Data security while in transit and at rest and current encryption methods and their effectiveness
  • SaaS security relating to access, authentication, and other elements
  • Segmentation within clouds for different types of data and applications
  • Putting vulnerability assessments and pen tests on your migration calendar
  • Security considerations for infrastructure and firewalls
  • Assessing the threat landscape in cloud environments

With all these things addressed, it’s time to begin your move.

Start the Migration

It’s a good idea to begin small with the move with something not mission-critical to your operations. After the initial migration, you’ll want to perform many tests to ensure configuration, access, and data components are accurate.

For example, you could migrate a SaaS platform that is very niche and wouldn’t disrupt the majority of work. If you’ve adequately prepared the SaaS application and done your due diligence on security, you can validate that you remediated any issues and have the proper configuration. There may be some trial and error here, but you’ll learn from this as you move on to larger applications.

Form a Culture of Continuous Improvement in Cloud Migrations and Security

As you progress in your migration, continuous improvement should be top of mind. As you sync and update applications, you can finally disable on-premises systems. The cloud is an environment of constant change and new threats from cybercriminals. Migration to the cloud may be complete, but not your cyber vigilance.

Successful Cloud Migrations Mitigate and Minimize Risk

Cloud migration isn’t successful unless you’ve identified and mitigated risks. Vulnerability assessments and pen tests are instrumental in this. You can’t eliminate every threat, but you can minimize them with ongoing proactive cybersecurity techniques and advice from experienced experts. Partnering with such a team can make cloud migration less stressful and challenging.

If you’re considering new migrations or have concerns about past ones, we can help. Our team of vulnerability assessment and pen test professionals creates a more secure landscape. Contact us today for a discovery meeting.

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Christian Espinosa

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