Cloud adoption is growing at a rapid pace because it enables organisations to scale their business models and meet consumer demands faster than ever before. However, with a proliferation of data and an ever-more-complex web of cloud-based business systems to manage comes a lot more user activity. As a result, many businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and more are looking for more ways to monitor how users interact with cloud applications and customer data.
This article will share how organisations are proactively monitoring cloud applications to gain critical insights into security, usage, performance and compliance, as well as foster a culture of compliance to create trust among themselves, their users and their customers.
What to watch
Cloud monitoring provides insights that empower organisations to maximise the investment in cloud applications to save time and money. What’s more, they can use these insights to secure and optimise their cloud environments. By examining the top areas monitored in security, usage/adoption, performance and compliance, it is possible to learn best practices for your own efforts.
Security:Cloud applications expand your organisation’s capabilities, but they expand the human attack surface at the same time. This means critical data is available any time, anywhere to all employees with access to those applications. The cybersecurity skills gap increases your organisation’s vulnerability to internal threats, underscoring the need for monitoring.
Paying attention to what’s being exported and what reports are being run helps organisations spot inappropriate behaviour. For instance, of the 15 percent of workers who changed or lost their jobs in the past year, half took confidential company data – and 52 percent didn’t view the use of such documents as a crime.
Monitoring login activity is another way to spot potential problems. Watch for inactive users trying to log in, or login attempts from unusual locations or after regular business hours. Profile and permission changes can also signal malicious behavior. Monitoring new profile creation and escalation of privileges—and who is performing these actions—will help you mitigate data misuse.
Compliance:The shift to the cloud has brought with it a number of existing and new regulatory bodies and regulations sprouting up at record pace. In addition to the regulations from FINRA, HIPAA, PCI, FFIEC and FCA, new regulations include the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the New York State Cybersecurity Rule.
These regulations will continue to grow as citizens and governing bodies aim to gain control of their data. So, while organisations have found new and more efficient ways to meet compliance within the cloud, a misconception persists.
You may think your application provider is solely responsible for the security and compliance of your data storage and handling, but it’s actually a shared responsibility. By monitoring your cloud-based environment, you can ensure stronger security, avoid regulatory fines and business interruption, and ensure trust among customers.
Performance:Performance is about the metrics and availability of information within your cloud application, which provide insight into the end user experience. For example, organisations can spend a vast amount of time and resources detecting, investigating and remediating login failures, which wastes everyone’s time and frustrates users.
Without insight into the quality of performance of your cloud applications, users may create work-arounds that decrease usage, adoption and trust in your application– whether it be in your organisation or in your customer community. However, with advanced insights, you can take a proactive approach to maximising the productivity of your workforce to enable trust between users and customers.
Usage/adoption:Cloud environments aren’t cheap, so it’s important to know whether employees are using your cloud applications securely and to their best advantage. This is why you need visibility into you cloud applications.
By monitoring user activity, organisations can identify high performers and use them as a benchmark to help other users enhance their own usage and adoption. For instance, 52 percent of high-performing salespeople indicated they were power users who take full advantage of their company’s CRM technology and other internal systems, compared with only 31 percent of underperforming salespeople.
Look at time and quality of use to reveal users who need training or perhaps don’t need a license at all. This can save your organisation countless resources.
Monitoring for insight
With so much insight available, it’s clear that cloud visibility is a must. Monitoring usually starts at the greatest point of pain—security—watching for signs of specific users, for instance, exporting abnormally large reports or logins occurring from restricted IP addresses. But along with security monitoring capability comes the ability to gain additional visibility into usage and adoption, performance, and compliance.
Use the above recommendations as a guide for beginning your own cloud monitoring program and for unlocking the way users are using and interacting with cloud applications and sensitive data. The more insight you have into how users are interacting with cloud applications, the more you will both secure and optimise your business systems to produce the best results possible.