Many Federal agencies still struggle with overcoming security concerns when transitioning to the cloud, according to a MeriTalk report, “To Cloud or Not to Cloud? That Isn’t the Question.”

Thirty-five percent of Federal IT leaders said that the security of their existing private cloud environments is excellent, compared to 21 percent for public cloud security.

“The silver lining–pun intended–is that select cybersecurity vendors, Fortinet being one, offer the ability to greatly increase visibility of assets, regardless of location, and actually increase control by pushing out, from a single pane of glass, security policy that allows uniform enforcement of segmentations and access, regardless of where they are on the cloud migration continuum,” said Phil Quade, chief information security officer at Fortinet.

Agencies can ensure that their data are secure by asking questions such as what are the large data sets that cannot be compromised, what services need to be available with high confidence even in stressed conditions, and what co-dependencies exist that cannot be broken, according to Quade.

“We also need to thoughtfully apply advanced concepts from the commercial sector that implement automated cyber defense solutions tailored for hybrid cloud architectures,” Quade said. “Developing and implementing integrated and automated cyber defenses will allow agencies to address the growing challenges they face due to increasing numbers of connected devices and related data volume.”

When agencies consider what data to move to the cloud versus keep in on-premise data centers, they should remember that on-premise solutions might offer a speed advantage and perceived security, whereas cloud solutions might offer more agility and scalability.

The report found that half of Federal IT leaders said that the cloud will help visibility, complexity, and security; while half said the cloud will hurt these characteristics. Quade said that this can be explained because many agencies rely on cybersecurity infrastructures that are outdated and won’t work in a cloud environment.

“Federal infrastructures will need to be re-architected before they can be successfully migrated to a cloud environment,” Quade said. “Adding a cloud infrastructure without making significant changes is likely to reduce that visibility even further. Adding agile segmentation is as close to a magic pill you can find in cybersecurity today–it adds security, visibility, control, and resiliency.”

Quade said that one Federal policy that’s helped usher agencies forward is the May Cybersecurity Executive Order, which provides guidance on migrating Federal computing resources to the cloud.

“It’s well within each Federal department and agency’s reach to achieve hybrid cloud environments with the sort of broad visibility and granular controls that weren’t realized with older technologies or strategies,” Quade said. “The Executive Order represents an opportunity to achieve both greater efficiencies and security postures, and is a critical step forward in securing the Federal government’s critical cyber resources.”


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Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Federal IT and K-12 Education.