Today, most enterprises are using more than one cloud provider. As cloud adoption accelerates and businesses innovate faster to compete, security leaders must efficiently — and securely — move workloads across more clouds, creating more complexity in their IT environments. In fact, more than 98% of security leaders reported their business is impacted by issues of increasing complexity with 45% noting increased security risk as they navigate both internal demands and external threats from bad actors. But, when it comes to cybersecurity, the biggest threats are often quite simple and much closer to home.

From cost containment issues, to plummeting budgets and skepticism from leadership on the value of cloud initiatives, security leaders are scrambling to address a barrage of competing priorities to satisfy stakeholders as they also look for growth and innovation opportunities. Managing cybersecurity threats can seem overwhelming under the best of circumstances, and today’s threat landscape has never been more complex. Some of the biggest threats to corporate security reside in email and SMS texts in the way of phishing scams and links that propagate destructive viruses when clicked. Even as cyberattacks grow in sophistication, it’s Cybersecurity 101 where security leaders most often slip up and let in bad actors — or fail to recognize insider threats. Security leaders need to get back to basics with company employees and it starts with making security simpler, while leveraging advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Streamlining data protection

Not only are expert technology executives navigating the complexity of a hybrid, multicloud environment, but so are less technical employees across any given organization, leaving room for human error on each workstation and at every virtual interaction. While most companies conduct training on basic cybersecurity threats like phishing and vulnerability scanning (e.g., don’t click the link), accidents happen and employees can still slip up by making minute changes, leaving their company’s sensitive data and entire infrastructure at risk.

Indeed, as companies navigate the complexity of multicloud environments, it’s easy to understand why it can be an uphill climb for employees to turn training into action when it comes to cybersecurity. While security experts will always need to be part of the equation to ensure a secure multicloud environment, security is automated to a large degree, with highly configurable settings that can detect threats — and even anticipate them. But this can lead to false confidence and complacency, which is especially true if we think about the fact that new vulnerabilities often capitalize on existing vulnerabilities that may have been detected but not fully eliminated. Prevention is always better than a cure as cures can be incomplete. AI is increasingly valuable for preventing cyber-attacks before they’re allowed to propagate. 

Embracing new AI tools to automate cyber protections 

For any company, managing cybersecurity risk can seem overwhelming under the best of circumstances; however, today’s threat landscape has never been greater, and attackers are increasingly dangerous for sophisticated and agile with lasting, devastating consequences. 

Companies today need to automate their hybrid, multicloud monitoring and threat response to embed an extra level of protection that triages red flags before they escalate and cause irreparable damage. Today’s AI-supported cloud tools can automatically stress test a company’s cybersecurity posture, maintain regular risk assessments, and manage new threats. These automated solutions can remove bottlenecks to enable more efficient data collection, accelerate AI workloads and deliver smoother cloud integration. Ultimately, companies with a high level of AI-driven security protocols can future-proof their cloud networks so they can scale efficiently, without downtime while data is moved between clouds and between data centers and the cloud freely and safely – without downtime and without lost productivity. 

Simplifying with an evolved cloud approach

While AI has done much of the heavy lifting to keep data secure, security teams still need to mind the store. But they need tools to help them do this. In an evolved cloud state, cloud is fully integrated into your architecture and operations, rather than another walled garden. Applications can pull data effortlessly from multiple clouds, data can move freely, securely and consistently between clouds to keep business logic moving forward, and businesses can quickly adapt to deliver on outcomes in a dynamic macro environment. This delivers observability everywhere so businesses can maximize the benefits of their multicloud architecture more purposefully and strategically, while simplifying cybersecurity.

As cloud advancements abound complexity increases, and many companies managing critical data remain unprepared. Gone are the days of the reactionary “act now, think later” approach to cloud integrations and threats to security. Rather, business leaders looking to capitalize on multicloud environments must take the time to consider how to overcome cloud complexity and look ahead to what’s yet to come. From simple changes to advanced AI, companies can remove blind spots and security vulnerabilities that mitigate risk and free up time for innovation and growth initiatives. As the multicloud evolves, the question remains: Who will choose to evolve with it?   

This article originally ran in Today’s Cybersecurity Leader, a monthly cybersecurity-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security magazine. Subscribe here.