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Why process-level visibility, robust segmentation, and fast threat detection are needed to protect hybrid cloud workloads

by Josh Biggs in Software on 26th November 2018

The emergence of cloud-based network environments continues to present dynamic and practical virtualization options for both small and large IT infrastructures. While cloud solutions can provide more storage and processing options than localized datacenters, network engineers continue to adapt their existing practices to maximize performance, growth, and security. Traditionally, network segmentation solutions such as VLANs, firewalls, and ACLs serve as pragmatic security measures for network architectures of organizations. Now that cloud applications have a strong foothold within the industry, the conventional security practices are unable to provide the same level of protection as they have in the past.

The hybrid cloud paradigm

Hybrid cloud infrastructures are even more complex than in-house datacenter configurations or full cloud architectures. In a hybrid cloud, at least one public and private environment are combined to comprise a part of company’s computing system, if not the entire network itself.

An organization can have a local datacenter and also employ a third-party cloud service with each having their own responsibilities such as one serving customer facing processes while the other maintains all internal operations. However, if the two systems are unable to communicate with each other, then it cannot be considered a true hybrid cloud. While the public and private environments do make up the hybrid solution, the migration between the two is made possible by an encrypted application programming interface or API. The process and resource allocation allowed by this cloud type provides the freedom to designate either of the two systems to handle critical workloads while assigning lower priority functions to the other. Additional automation permits data and process sharing between the two as well.  In order to protect hybrid cloud workloads, only an advanced level of process and data scrutiny is able to maintain a level of security enterprises are confident in trusting with their most sensitive information.

Micro-segmentation

With how many moving parts combine to create a reliable and effective hybrid cloud system, the benefits reaped from a micro-segmentation solution align perfectly with this configuration. Micro-segmentation is a revolutionary security practice that is garnering an increased following due to its stringent monitoring and its rapid threat detection followed by swift response actions. Network segmentation splits a network into multiple sub networks accessible to hosts with shared access levels while application segmentation uses Layer 4 security to protect hosts within specific processes and functions allowed by their credentials. Micro-segmentation takes security even further with eagle eye visibility over the entire network infrastructure of an organization and implements Layer 7 protection security policies with intricate monitoring configuration functions.

Process level visibility

The amount of workflow taking place within a hybrid cloud can be a daunting amount of data to monitor and manage. One of the requirements of implementing a micro-segmentation solution is to first collect and review the data of everyday operations to develop a baseline for comparison in the future.  Network and host analysis is performed at both Layer 4 and Layer 7 security levels to monitor even the most sensitive data transfer and storage processes with the ability to integrate local and cloud environments through automated functions as well. Having a complete interactive road map of the entire network infrastructure and workflow provides an elaborate view of all processes within the computing system of an organization. This level of visibility presents security teams with a way to automatically find applications and their allowed access points, identify and understand application behaviors, and a granular viewpoint of approved processes, all of which help to recognize vulnerabilities and unauthorized activity.

Robust segmentation

The interoperability of hybrid clouds creates an environment rich with varying security levels and points of access to allow seamless migration between systems benefiting applications, resources, platforms, and workloads. However, with that amount of workflow taking place, segmentation becomes a requirement instead of being a luxury. Micro-segmentation policies provide division of environments across network, application, and process levels with strict enforcement of security policies to restrict the east-west lateral movement of intrusions and malware. The containment of a security breach is a critical function of micro-segmentation which is able to actively and continuously analyze current activities and compare them against previously configured protection policies to enact a fast response based on security team discretion.

Immediate threat detection

Identifying unrecognized and malicious intrusions becomes an even higher priority in hybrid cloud systems. With both public and private environments being accessible via API, having an intruder or malware remain undetected over time can cause catastrophic damage to an organization and its customers. Because of the baseline of everyday operations that was developed at the onset of micro –segmentation implementation, IT security personnel is able to quickly identify changes in workflow, host access, and application activity. By immediately recognizing a threat, this limits the areas of access from the intrusion, allows for rapid quarantine of an affected area, and enables security teams to exact their predefined countermeasures.

A strong perimeter + micro-segmentation + threat detection = hybrid cloud-ready security

The profound benefits derived from a hybrid cloud infrastructure are clearly another step in IT evolution, but the technology does not come without its exposure to additional access points in an environment. Implementing a strong perimeter security strategy and adopting an advanced security solution that leverages in micro-segmentation are assured methods of protecting a hybrid cloud system and keeping your organization’s network one-step ahead of the next data breach.

 

 

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