Cloud Security Trends and Predictions for 2021

Charbel Khneisser, Regional Director – Technical Sales, META at Riverbed Technology, shares the emerging cloud security trends and predictions for 2021.

At Riverbed, we have focused on helping our customers quickly scale work-from-home models with application acceleration and network performance management solutions that keep remote workers productive and networks running and secure.

The necessity of having to rapidly implement remote working strategies has earned CISOs a prominent place at the boardroom table. While IT has been essential to enabling business continuity through 2020, the accelerated digital transformation of organizations hasn’t been without its risks. The range of at-home networks and BYO-devices now engaged in critical business operations has grown exponentially and amplified our reliance on cloud-based infrastructure and solutions and scattering our data into what is frequently the unknown. As the dust settles and organizations embrace this brave new world whereby employees expect to be able to work from anywhere, they will have to do a double-take, re-evaluating where their data is and whether they have taken enough responsibility for it.

With this in mind, here are Riverbed’s Cloud Security Predictions for 2021:

SaaS Security Under the Spotlight
Accelerated by the dramatic shift to remote working, organizations have been steadily moving all of their data outside the enterprise and into the cloud. With the rise of SaaS, the applications that serve as the foundation of our businesses are maintained by third-party organizations, and although that generally ensures the security of the application, the visibility on the data stored within is generally significantly diminished. Whereas traditionally, companies maintained their own datacenters and devices, today the paths corporate data takes are often no longer owned; and therefore, not always visible to the IT team. And whether or not the infrastructure that is owned and operated by another company is monitored is frequently (and frighteningly) unknown.

Businesses of all sizes have demonstrated their confidence in the cloud, a fact that is reflected in the ever increasing adoption rates of applications like Office365, Salesforce and Slack. Even the more tailored applications that don’t yet have a SaaS equivalent are moving from the corporate datacenter to IaaS, to be consumed as-a-service.

This year, we will see enterprises starting to grapple with the complex question of where their data resides, who really has access to it, and how they might audit or track this. Their heads will suddenly turn to realize their ability to govern data is limited at best, and they have few processes in place to understand who is accessing what data and from where (internally and externally), and what the actual costs are. Visibility will become the new watchword.

Taking stock of cloud storage
We’ve all heard that ‘data is the new oil’ but whereas oil reserves are continually depleting, the volume of data that businesses generate continues to rise exponentially. Inevitably, the path of least resistance is to keep buying more and more storage to migrate all of our data into the cloud. And the reality is all the data we create ends up stationary, ie. “sitting around”, frequently untouched or unused for long periods. For example, just consider the SharePoint files of former employees. We lose sight of where that data really is, what’s happening to it, and whether or not someone may be moving it out of the organization.

This year, we expect many enterprises will start to recognize that that path of least resistance that cloud storage represents – when not used thoughtfully and strategically – turns all that data into a liability. Not only is there a cost associated with having all this data hosted in the cloud, there are worrying security issues as well.

In addition to acting on the understanding that not all data is worth paying to keep, especially consider its potential liability, enterprises will focus more than ever before on how they will apply cloud storage smartly, securely and affordably.

Doing a double-take
The changes and challenges of 2020 hit the enterprise at breakneck speed and accelerated a rush to the cloud. While organizations have adapted quickly and admirably, many will start to take a second look at what they’ve done with their data, and what they need to do going forward. We expect 2021 will usher in a new day of responsibility for data, wherever it lives.