Global spending on public clouds has increased by 20.4% in the last year alone. Despite this rapid adoption rate and spike in spending, one out of every four IT and security specialists have struggled to keep up with the expertise and training required to adequately implement cloud security. As cloud use continues to grow, training and scaling teams to protect a modern cloud environment will pay off exponentially in the form of better data security and a reduced risk of technical debt. 

With the average cost of a data breach hovering at $4.35M, equipping security professionals with the tools and skills needed to combat cloud-based threats is essential to keep information secure and stay out of the headlines for a data breach. Some of the most common cloud security threats include unmanaged attack surfaces, misconfiguration or identity-related data breaches — all of which can be mitigated through proper and proactive personnel training and awareness programs. While security used to only be a concern for the IT department, with 31% of global enterprise cloud leaders ranking cybersecurity as a top investment priority for their organization, it’s now critical. Everyone, regardless of their level, is responsible for identifying and managing novel threats. Here are three tips for any organization working toward closing its cybersecurity skills gap and completing a successful cloud migration.

Assess the current landscape before diving in

At the beginning of a cloud transition, teams should first take a pragmatic approach to their current security designs to assess flaws. Having well-trained teams who can properly assess potential vulnerabilities is key to the migration’s success and to properly ease security pressures around this transition. 

Once current security concerns are identified and addressed, security and IT teams should work in tandem with the cloud deployment process to help keep everyone agile. These proactive security steps, sometimes aided by automation, remain a critical component in mitigating upfront risks in the migration process. For teams that can perform these proactive tasks effectively, the shift to the cloud becomes more focused on subsequently protecting data and ensuring compliance than worrying about security breaches or duplicated data.

Equip teams with the skills necessary to succeed

To avoid common pitfalls of security skills gaps, a best practice for organizations is to implement training programs for current employees that provide the skills necessary to secure cloud workloads. Studies show that over 80% of all company data breaches are caused by people — meaning skills gaps lead to security gaps, and subsequently, breaches. To avert this issue, leaders can engage their employees in upskilling programs offered by the cloud platform vendors that the organization works with. By earning these upskilling certifications, teams are better equipped to handle new and complex threats and support fellow team members in the event of a breach.

Without this, teams put organizations at risk for an increased rate of cyberattacks as they struggle to keep up with evolving security concerns and regulatory requirements. Alternatively, teams with larger budgets can invest in hiring new talent to oversee the cloud migration. Either way, in the hustle of rapid cloud migration, training should be a primary focus for organizations to ensure their team is equipped with the skills needed to successfully shift their workloads to the cloud.

Stay vigilant even after the migration is complete

After migrating workloads to the cloud, security teams must learn to manage an entirely new swatch of vulnerabilities. One critical way to assess and remediate these vulnerabilities is to implement a cloud penetration testing program, which helps internal teams protect their organizations by consistently identifying and mitigating security risks. A well-versed security team, combined with robust pen testing and configuration reviews, allows teams to test security misconfigurations and identify factors like inadvertent public access or excessive identity and access management (IAM) permissions. By implementing a holistic testing program combining human and technology-aided support, teams can work to arm themselves against preventable data breaches with proper cloud security. Without it, teams are left vulnerable to potential gaps in their security designs, lending themselves to insecure data and increased potential for data breaches.

At the end of the day, teams who rush into rapid cloud migrations can unknowingly set themselves up for failure down the line. Technology alone isn’t effective in catching and remedying all security issues. It’s up to leaders to deploy highly skilled and supported cloud security experts to guide organizations through the cloud migration process. Without focusing efforts on upskilling or scaling support, organizations risk the security of their data in poorly managed cloud environments.