Cloud Security: Everything That You Need To Know

by Josh Biggs in Tech on 18th March 2021

The business and commerce industry runs various operations using the cloud today. Because of the sensitive information in it, cloud security became a necessity to ward off unwanted attackers. 

These attackers, typically called cyber criminals, use the business’ vulnerabilities and exploit its sensitive data for their benefit. If you own or are managing a company, then this post is for you. The definition, technologies used, challenges, cloud security assessment, and all other information you need to know about cloud security are here.

Cloud Security: What Is It For?

Cloud security, also called cloud computing security, comprises a group of policies, processes, and technologies. They interrelate with one another to form a protection for cloud-based infrastructures and systems. Cloud security prevents attacks, such as data breach, DDoS, hacks, and malware.

A proper configuration strengthens the security of the cloud data, which protects the users’ privacy. It can also set up authentication rules to verify the person’s identity to access the cloud or a device.

Cloud security can also help identify the requirements of businesses and in filtering traffic to their website. Its effectiveness is dependent on the cloud provider or solution that exists within your system. Meaning, its success relies on both the business owner and the solution provider.

A Two-Way Responsibility

A famous saying states that it takes two persons to tango. Coincidentally, this saying also applies to cloud security.

Cloud security holds a two-way or shared responsibility involving the customer (business owner) and the cloud provider. There are three classifications in cloud security’s shared responsibility model.

  1. Responsibilities for the provider

This responsibility relates to protecting the infrastructure itself. It is also about safeguarding the access, patching, and design of the physical hosts and network. 

  1. Responsibilities for the customer

The customer is, in this instance, the business owner or manager. If you are one of the two, it is your responsibility to handle users. It includes their access to the cloud and your company’s system. You need to provide ways to verify each user’s identity and the approval of their entry on cloud accounts. Such means will maintain cloud security posture and will prevent unauthorized access to your system. 

  1. Responsibilities based on the service model
  • PaaS (Platform as a Service)

The PaaS service model uses an online platform. Through it, developers can create and process custom applications. Google App Engine and OpenShift app practice the PaaS model.

  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

The IaaS service model provides cloud-based framework resources, such as OS and network. The customer manages the infrastructure without directly controlling it. Examples of Iaas include AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Microsoft Azure.

  • SaaS (Software as a Service)

This service model carries out various software services. The customer, in return, can get through the cloud via a secured browser. Some applications that employ this model include Dropbox and Microsoft Office 365.

Key Technologies That You Must Know

Source: Pixabay

Cloud security employs various technologies to make it work. Here are three of the most common technologies used.

  • Encryption

It is the manner of mixing up data. This way, only authorized persons to know how to understand the data. If a cyber hacker tried to get into the cloud and acquired unencrypted data, they can use that information to profit through selling, to leak, or deleting it. 

  • IAM

IAM means identity and access management. These products monitor and verify the user’s identity, approve or deny requested access and actions, and locks access to the company cloud if needed. 

  • Cloud Firewall

It offers another mantle of protection for all assets through the blockage of malicious web traffic. Unlike the conventional type, the cloud firewall has a virtual barrier designed to protect the cloud systems and infrastructures. It can prevent DDoS attacks and other hostile activities. Its primary purpose is to lower the chances of attacks that can hinder the company’s everyday operations.

Does Cloud Security Have Challenges?

The cloud has virtually unclear limits. Therefore, managing its security is essentially challenging. Recent innovative cloud approaches, including CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous deployment) methods, ephemeral assets, and serverless designs, make it tougher to handle.

Here are five of the most typical challenges that organizations face today.

  1. Low Visibility and Monitoring

The cloud providers completely keep track of and direct most parts of the infrastructure layer. Some customers are not aware of this arrangement, limiting their full control and visibility of their cloud assets. This concern is also present in some parts of PaaS and SaaS models.

  1. Wide Attack Surface

Malware, exploitive emails, and other malicious threats became a common yet alarming concern to the cloud. Especially when in the public cloud environment, one of your challenges is that you open a broad attack surface to cybercriminals. Some can quickly get into poorly secured cloud ingress ports to obtain pertinent data from your organization.

  1. Complex Automated Working Environments

Coherently handling security in multi-cloud and other complex environments needs lots of methods and tools. You need these things to help you work through private and public cloud providers and on-premise deployments.  

  1. Evolving Workloads

Conventional cloud security tools cannot carry out protection policies in a changing environment with an evolving workload. More, cloud assets are delivered dynamically at a large scale and at varying velocity.

  1. Governance and Compliance Requirements

Most cloud providers understand that accreditation programs, including HIPAA, NIST 800-53, and GDPR, are must-haves. Moreso, customers have a responsibility as well to ensure that their processes and workload are cloud compliant. With the low visibility as a challenge to the cloud environment’s flexibility, specific compliance audit processes become challenging to implement.

Cloud Security Assessment: A Valid Solution

Source: Pixabay

One of the best solutions to analyzing potential cybercriminal activity on your cloud data is cloud security assessment (CSA). Its purpose is to mitigate the constantly evolving cloud environment, making it challenging to identify and immediately block threats. A CSA can lower the security risks by answering various cloud challenges, including the top five, as discussed above. 

The cloud security assessment process is an excellent solution to boost your cloud security. Here are five of the frequent questions that it helps to answer:

  • Do you have the full information of your data’s storage location and the type of data it carries (example: staff information, financial data, etc.)?
  • Have you ever assessed the security and privacy risks of your current cloud usage?
  • Do you have full or partial control of your shadow IT?
  • With your current cloud security control status, do you have sufficient visibility and insights on all information across all cloud environments, particularly your sensitive data?
  • Have you invested in the proper ways to improve your cloud security considering regulatory agencies’ rules, such as the NIS rules, GDPR, and HIPAA?

4 Ways To Boost Cloud Security

Popular cloud providers include the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft Azure (AZURE). While they can provide various cloud security features, additional solutions and tools from third-party cloud security providers are still critical to attaining enterprise-grade cloud security protection. 

Most third-party cloud security providers offer centralized visibility and granular control (depending on your policy) for successful protection against cybercrimes. 

  1. Web Application Firewall

Securing all applications, especially cloud-dependent apps, with an updated web-based firewall is an excellent start. It will meticulously inspect and direct traffic to and from various servers. 

  1. Virtual Server Protection Policies

The implementation of virtual server protection policies can also add to boost cloud security. Processes including change management and software updates can also help adhere to the ever-evolving cloud governance and compliance rules. 

  1. IAM and Authentication Response

The use of policy-based identity and access management (IAM) with quick authentication response reduces the risk in complex cloud infrastructures. However, it is best to do this method with groups instead of at an individual IAM level. It will allow better definition and assessment when there are changes in your business or organization. 

Also, only provide insufficient access privileges to APIs and other assets that do specific roles or tasks. The more duties or functions the person has, the higher level of authentication is required. Also, do not forget extensive IAM hygiene, which includes implementation of strong password policies, etc. 

  1. Threat-sensitive AI

Employ threat-sensitive AI that can determine and respond to known and unknown risks in real-time. This fantastic innovation can cross-reference aggregated log data with internal cloud information and external data. This service can come from third-party cloud security providers. These providers also offer tools to analyze and present the threat landscape to improve quicker response turnaround time. 

Internal information means the cloud assets, configuration management systems, and many more. External data include geolocation database, and threat feeds, etc. 

AI algorithms specifically made to identify cyber threats go over thorough forensic analysis to establish their risk profile. 

Takeaway Thought

Cloud security is a vital part of keeping your cloud data secure from cyber threats. You need the proper knowledge, support, and tools to make it successful. Moreover, it is not a one-way responsibility where either the provider or customer (you) are responsible. Instead, cloud-security is a shared responsibility. 

As much as it is essential to your cloud data, cloud security comes with various challenges. Fortunately, there are ways to help solve these difficulties. One of the most common ways is through a cloud security assessment. 

Nonetheless, keeping your data secured and threat-free is not an easy job. Therefore, choose the best providers that you can trust with the data in your cloud.

Categories: Tech