Cloud Migration

Ensuring the Security of PII During Cloud User Migration

The utilization of cloud technology has become integral for organizations seeking to enhance employee productivity, streamline IT operations, and deliver improved experiences to customers and partners. However, migrating diverse user groups to new cloud environments poses distinct challenges, particularly regarding the protection of sensitive personally identifiable information (PII).

It is anticipated that by 2025, the amount of data stored in the cloud by governments, organizations, and individuals will reach an astounding 100 Zettabytes.

This expansion of the cloud’s data landscape means that many organizations are seeing their attack surface increase as more sensitive data, including customer PII, is entrusted to cloud storage.

Understanding the Risks

Cloud migration, given the intricacies of modern hybrid IT ecosystems, can be an intimidating endeavor. User identity lies at the heart of this challenge, as cybercriminals increasingly target users and their passwords rather than the underlying IT infrastructure. Robust security measures are essential when it comes to safeguarding PII.

If malicious actors gain access to user passwords, they can distribute PII on the dark web, making it susceptible to various follow-up attacks. Such breaches can inflict significant damage on a company’s reputation, resulting in substantial costs for cleanup, regulatory fines, and potential legal consequences. According to statistics from Javelin Strategy and Research, cyberattacks reached an all-time high in the US in 2017, affecting 16.7 million consumers and causing losses totaling $16.8 billion.

Prioritizing PII Security in Your Migration Strategy

To mitigate the risk of costly breaches, it is imperative to prioritize both PII security and a seamless user experience when planning and executing user migrations. While some migration solutions may necessitate the opening of firewall ports or the granting of database access to third-party cloud systems, these actions can introduce security vulnerabilities and complexity.

Safely Storing PII in the Cloud

To securely store PII in the cloud, organizations should implement the following best practices:


Ensure that data is encrypted both at rest and in transit to protect it from unauthorized access. Employ robust encryption protocols, such as SSL/TLS for data in transit and AES-256 for data at rest. Additionally, consider implementing encryption key management best practices, including key rotation and secure key storage, to maintain the integrity of encrypted data.

Access Controls

Implement strong access controls to restrict access to PII to authorized personnel only. Utilize role-based access control (RBAC) to assign permissions based on job responsibilities, implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) to verify user identities, and adhere to the principle of least privilege to ensure that users have only the minimum necessary access.

Data Segregation

Segregate PII from non-sensitive data to reduce the risk of unauthorized access or exposure. Store PII in separate databases, storage accounts, or containers and implement additional access controls to limit access to these segregated areas.

Data Retention and Disposal

Establish data retention policies that store PII for only the required duration and securely dispose of it when it is no longer needed. Implement secure deletion techniques, such as cryptographic erasure or physical destruction of storage media, to ensure that deleted data cannot be recovered.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Implement DLP solutions to monitor, detect, and prevent the unauthorized transfer or exposure of PII. DLP tools can be configured to identify sensitive data patterns, such as credit card numbers or Social Security numbers, and take appropriate actions to prevent data leakage, such as alerting, blocking, or encrypting the data.

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)

Employ CSPM tools to continuously monitor and assess the security posture of your cloud environment. These tools help identify misconfigurations, compliance violations, and potential threats, enabling organizations to proactively remediate security issues and maintain a robust security posture.

Incident Response Planning and Training

Develop a comprehensive incident response plan to handle potential data breaches or unauthorized access to PII. Conduct regular training sessions and drills to ensure that employees are aware of their responsibilities during a security incident and are prepared to respond effectively.

By implementing these best practices, organizations can enhance their security posture and safely store PII within cloud systems.

Keeping PII at the Forefront

Once you have chosen your migration method, meticulous planning becomes crucial. Many migration failures that put employee and customer PII at risk occur due to inadequate testing at various project phases. Comprehensive testing that encompasses diverse scenarios is critical for identifying potential issues before migrating the majority of your user base.

Regarding security, shortcuts such as migrating user data in plain text should be avoided. Take the necessary time to encrypt, hash, and protect PII. By doing so, you can ensure that sensitive information remains securely locked, offering peace of mind to both your organization and your users.

Securing PII during cloud user migration is not a choice but a necessity in today’s data-driven world. By implementing the right migration strategy and adopting best practices, you can successfully navigate the complexities of cloud migration while safeguarding sensitive information and delivering a superior user experience.

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