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As cloud computing becomes more prevalent, security and data protection have become major concerns for organizations moving data and workloads to the cloud. There are several risks and challenges involved with cloud security that must be properly addressed.
Implementing proper cloud security measures is a shared responsibility between the cloud provider and the customer. While providers secure the underlying infrastructure, customers must secure their data, applications, identity and access management, and more.
By following security best practices around visibility, encryption, access controls, compliance, and more, organizations can effectively secure their cloud environments.
Cloud Security Challenges
There are several notable challenges involved with securing cloud environments:
- Shared responsibility model – Customers share security responsibilities with their cloud provider and must understand which security controls they are responsible for implementing and managing.
- Limited visibility – Public cloud environments provide limited visibility into security controls, compared to on-premises environments. This makes identifying risks more difficult.
- Evolving threats – Threats to cloud environments continue to rapidly evolve, making it difficult to stay ahead of attackers.
- Complexity – Cloud environments have many components from different vendors, complicating security efforts. There are also frequent updates to cloud services.
- Talent shortage – There is a shortage of cybersecurity professionals with cloud expertise, making hiring and training talent difficult.
Top Cloud Security Best Practices
- Use native auditing features or third-party tools to gain visibility into user activities, resource configurations, data access, changes over time, and more.
- Implement cloud workload protection platforms to gain centralized visibility and control across cloud environments.
- Perform frequent audits and assessments of cloud resources and configurations.
- Classify data by sensitivity levels and handle appropriately in the cloud – only store sensitive data in the cloud if absolutely necessary.
- Implement robust encryption for data in transit and at rest using provider offerings or third-party solutions.
- Utilize data loss prevention and rights management features to control data access.
- Leverage identity and access management solutions to manage user access and implement the principle of least privilege.
- Use multi-factor authentication to secure all cloud accounts and resources.
- Monitor user activities and access for anomalies via user behavior analytics.
- Maintain compliance with regulations like HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR which often have cloud-specific requirements.
- Utilize compliance management platforms to streamline audits, risk assessments, and control implementation.
- Configure native security features to meet compliance control requirements.
Other Notable Practices
- Avoid misconfigurations which are a leading cause of cloud security incidents. Use configuration validation tools.
- Implement intrusion detection and prevention controls to detect threats.
- Train personnel on proper cloud security practices.
- Prepare incident response plans tailored for cloud environments.
- Utilize third-party cloud access security brokers to centralize cloud security policy enforcement.
Key Cloud Security Capabilities
To properly secure cloud environments, organizations need solutions that provide:
Centralized visibility and analytics – Holistic visibility is required to identify risks across cloud accounts, regions, services, and more. Advanced analytics can detect threats and anomalies.
Unified policy enforcement – Consistent enforcement of security controls across cloud environments, on-premises systems, and more is important.
Data security – Classifying data and applying appropriate controls around encryption, rights management, retention policies and more based on sensitivity levels is critical.
Compliance automation – Solutions that automate compliance tasks like assessments, audits, and reporting help reduce the burden.
Cloud-native integration – Tight integration with cloud provider services allows for utilization of native security controls.
Cross-cloud support – Most organizations use multiple cloud providers, so having unified security across all of them is beneficial.
Securing cloud environments remains challenging, but absolutely necessary for any organization storing data or running workloads in the cloud.
Leveraging security best practices around visibility, data protection, access controls, compliance, threat protection, and more can help reduce risks.
Selecting cloud-based security platforms purpose-built for the cloud and utilizing available cloud provider security tools provides the necessary capabilities for cloud security success.
Organizations that implement comprehensive cloud security measures can realize the benefits of the cloud, while safely storing data and protecting critical assets.