...By Ellen Rey for TDPel Media.
Organizations need to ensure that data in a cloud environment is protected. This is done through governance policies, technology, threat management, and defined processes.
The security of a cloud environment can be categorized into responsibilities that are always the provider’s, responsibilities that vary by service model (like Infrastructure as a Service or PaaS), and duties that are the clients.
Identify Your Needs
The cloud environment presents new challenges for your security teams. Many cloud providers offer well-documented application programming interfaces (APIs) to increase flexibility for users. However, this is also a common entry point for attackers looking to steal data and resources from the platform. In addition, cloud environments can introduce regulatory control issues that require additional tools and processes to ensure compliance.
Choosing the right vendor is an essential first step in ensuring that your cloud deployments are secure and safe from attack. You should select a service provider that offers built-in security protocols that conform to the highest levels of best practice and provides a marketplace of solutions and partners that can be added for additional protections. The provider should also make finding and accessing these partners and solutions easy through a single portal.
Another thing to look for in a vendor is that they have a robust and transparent process for background screening of their personnel who might need access to your systems and data. This should include verification of identity, background checks to ensure they have the right to work in your country, and a review for unspent criminal convictions.
Using these and other third-party solutions in conjunction with the services provided by your cloud provider will help you shift to a preventative cybersecurity stance without adding many extra people to your team. Check Point, for example, has a comprehensive suite of security solutions that can be used to protect cloud infrastructure, Web applications, endpoints, and more.
Identify Your Vendors
When selecting a cloud security solution provider like Versa Networks, look for one that offers comprehensive protection that covers all your major risk areas. Look for providers that offer a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, allowing you to access all their features in a single platform that is easy to integrate into your existing security infrastructure.
A quality solution should be able to protect all your critical components of the cloud environment — from a database to an app server. It should also be able to scan your entire digital infrastructure and detect any vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit.
In addition, the solution should be able to identify privileged users and their activities, and it should have the ability to enforce data loss prevention (DLP) policies on sensitive information that is stored in the cloud. This is especially important with the rise of insider threats, where staff members that have been disabled can still gain unauthorized access to systems using compromised accounts.
It would be best to look for a solution that provides visibility of your entire cloud ecosystem. This is vital because research suggests that most cloud services have a lifespan of only two hours, meaning they’re often fleeting and hard to track. Also, a good solution should allow you to authenticate only over secure channels like HTTPS rather than email, phone, or plain text.
Create a Plan
While implementing cloud technologies, agencies must cultivate a mindset of continuous improvement and learning. Specifically, this means prioritizing training and education for staff, detailed and comprehensive migration planning, and balancing solution sustainability with incorporating new capabilities into agency operating environments.
It is also critical to understand your shared responsibility with providers. Clarifying internal responsibilities for cybersecurity versus what is expected from the provider will help organizations better prepare to shift to a more public security model.
Another critical factor is ensuring your agency has a practical and automated threat detection and response system, which can identify vulnerabilities within SaaS applications and ensure that any data being moved to and from these services aligns with security policies. CASB solutions can protect against these threats by leveraging APIs to detect anomalous behavior and alert security teams to potential attacks, including compromised credentials.
Another critical element of a robust cloud-based security solution is encryption. While encrypting data is always a best practice, it becomes even more crucial once your organization deploys software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. When you hand over control of your data to a third-party vendor, it introduces an additional layer of insider threat from the provider’s employees. To prevent this, use encrypted data transfers both in transit and at rest and utilize a cloud provider that allows you to maintain your encryption keys.
As cloud computing becomes mainstream, the need for security solutions that protect the full range of deployed systems is growing. Organizations use the software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to store and access data, applications, and services. Still, these systems are often exposed on the public Internet or within reach of other connected networks, making them a tempting target for attackers.
Many high-profile security breaches in recent years have been due to misconfigured cloud system settings, which give attackers easy access to sensitive or mission-critical data. Ensuring proper configuration is one of the top challenges for modern organizations that depend on cloud services.
Fortunately, there are ways to ensure a smooth transition to cloud-delivered security solutions. The first step is to identify the needs of an organization’s unique posture. This process involves assigning risk and sensitivity levels to data and systems and assessing the impact on the business if they are compromised.
This will help an organization determine the most critical features and capabilities for its security needs. It is also an excellent time to consider working with an MSSP to gain experience deploying and operating a cloud-delivered security solution. MSSPs bring knowledge of common network security issues that most in-house teams need more experience with, and they often offer discounts, incentives, and bundles for their customers that can lower the total cost of ownership.