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Handbook for engineers: 7 best practices for hybrid cloud innovation and trust in regulated industries

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By Lekha Rao, Manager, VPC Observability, ISDL, IBM India and Srinivasan Nanduri, Cloud Platform Architect, ISDL IBM India

The 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report by IBM found that 82% of breaches involved cloud-stored data. To ensure visibility and protect data across hybrid environments—covering clouds, databases, apps, and services—organisations must adopt comprehensive solutions.

Driving transformation in enterprises requires navigating the complexities of trust and security, especially with the rapid adoption of AI. While AI offers significant competitive advantages, it also presents unique data concerns that vary by industry and region. Supporting clients in their Hybrid Cloud and AI journey involves addressing these challenges head-on.

Decoding the regulated industries’ landscape:

Compliance with regulatory standards like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), SOX (Sarbanes Oxley Act), SOC2 (Service Organization Control Type 2), DORA (Digital Operational Resilience Act), ITSS (IT Security Standards) is crucial for data protection and financial integrity. Each country adds its own compliance frameworks, such as FEDRAMP in the US and ISMAP in Japan. These requirements can be challenging for engineering teams to interpret and automate during audits. Effectively managing these complexities within the innovation cycle offers a significant edge to businesses in regulated industries.

Navigating regulatory complexities through best practices.

1. Leveraging bastion solutions: Bastion hosts act as access points for engineers in the organization and thereby, serve as secure gateways between user workstations and internal networks. This reduces the attack surface and enhances security monitoring and control. By centralizing access points, employing multi-factor authentication, and facilitating session recording and auditing, Bastion solutions play a critical role in a deploying a comprehensive security strategy.

2. Integrating system management and privileged access management: Effective SSH (secure shell) key management ensures controlled access for the Bastion host, while Privileged Access Management (PAM) systems monitor and regulate access rights, adhering to the principle of least privilege. Network segmentation further complements these measures by limiting lateral movement within the network and bolstering overall security.

3. DevSecOps with embedded compliance: Embedding complex compliance requirements as part of continuous integration and deployment pipelines eradicates the need for setting uniform standards of practice across teams in an organisation. Creating reusable templates simplifies adherence across teams, addressing ITSS, security scans and privacy assessments.

4. Auditable and consistent infrastructure automation: Using well managed container orchestration and cloud management tools will create consistent use patterns across teams , facilitating effective audit management.

Advanced technical measures for robust decurity

5. Ensuring data integrity through encryption and identity and access management: Encryption techniques, notably AES-256, are crucial for securing data at rest and in transit, ensuring sensitive information remains inaccessible to unauthorized entities. Similarly, Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems with role-based access controls (RBAC) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) protect access to cloud resources against unauthorized access and insider threats.

Continuous compliance and data loss prevention: Continuous compliance monitoring tools offer real-time oversight, ensuring financial institutions remain aligned with evolving regulations. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) strategies are pivotal in enablement of a robust security posture, controlling sensitive information transfers and preventing unauthorized data exfiltration.

Unlocking Success: Cloud security and compliance lessons for industry-wide impact

The financial sector’s pioneering approach to cloud security and compliance offers valuable insights and best practices for other industries venturing into cloud adoption. The principles of robust security measures and adherence to regulatory standards are universally applicable, providing a blueprint for creating secure, compliant, and trustworthy digital ecosystems across various sectors.

6. Deployable architectures: Consuming preconfigured templates and automated compliance controls for regions, organizations and industries help enterprises accelerate their transformation journey with a focus on effectively navigating relevant compliance and regulatory requirements. Deploying these templates as cloud architectures ensures secure, vetted systems and processes approved by CIOs. With financial services industries already setting the precedent, other regulated enterprises can enhance and customize their systems.

Conclusion

The significance of security and compliance in cloud extends far beyond the banking industry. As the digital landscape evolves, regulated industries must achieve data sovereignty, use vetted tools, adopt advanced measures, and meet compliance demands. Providing cloud platforms that manage these complexities through common patterns and templates ensures success. This holistic approach enables enterprises to thrive in an interconnected digital world.

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