Cloud computing is the deployment of services, including hardware, software & storage over the internet. The benefits of scalability, quick-deployment and low costs have made cloud computing desirable amongst organizations of all sizes. This emergence has also led to the creation of another important aspect which we know as cloud security.
Cloud Security pertains to the policies, controls, services and technologies that protect cloud based applications, data and infrastructure from various threats and risks. Given the changed nature of the working environment since 2022, the importance of cloud security has increased immensely.
In this blog, we will take a look at the various partners who share responsibilities to handle cloud security. We will also elaborate on the challenges faced by cloud security and why you should embrace the zero trust approach. Lastly we will discuss the main pillars of cloud security.
Shared Responsibility in Cloud Security
It’s quite understandable that implementing cloud security is a shared responsibility between cloud provider and the customer. In this shared responsibility model, there are three basic categories:
- Responsibilities Always Managed by the Provider
- Liabilities Always Managed by the Customer
- Responsibilities that Vary depending on the Service Model
These include tasks such as safeguarding the infrastructure, managing secure access, patching 7 configuring the physical hosts & networks. The protection and operations of the servers and other storage devices fall under the jurisdiction of the cloud provider.
The responsibilities of the customer includes managing the users, their access rights, protecting these accounts from unauthorized access, encryption of the cloud based data assets, and ensuring compliance.
The third category refers to services such as Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas), Software as a Service (Saas), and/or Platform as a Service (Paas).
Top Cloud Security Challenges
The public cloud system does not have many clear parameters. This in turn presents a fundamentally different security picture. The challenge is compounded when adopting newer cloud based approaches like containers, serverless architecture.
Some of the major challenges faced by cloud security are as follows:
Managing consistent security in the modern multi cloud and hybrid environment requires tools and systems that can work seamlessly across various public & private cloud providers. These cross platform functionalities therefore add a layer of complexity that makes the cloud environment much harder to coordinate in a hybrid structure.
Cloud assets and commissioned & decommissioned dynamically. They are done so with a rapid scale rate. As a result, many traditional security tools are incapable of enforcing protection protocols. The dynamic and flexible environment with constantly changing workloads requires security tools to remain constantly updated.
Key Management & Granular Privilege
Oftentimes, users’ roles are defined and configured very loosely. They are provided with privileges beyond what needs to be given. A common instance is giving rights to untrained users to delete assets or write permissions. These improper privileges can expose the data and the infrastructure to security risks.
Appealing Attack Domain
The cloud environment has become an attractive attack surface for many hackers who exploit weakly secured cloud ports. These weak spots allow them access and disrupt data and operations in the cloud. Malware, Account Takeover are some of the most prevalent examples of these types of attacks. To know more about these threats, check out or blog on top most common cyber attacks.
Automation with DevOps and DevSecOps
Organizations that have adopted the DevOps culture have to ensure that proper security protocols are embedded in their codes and templates early in the development cycle phase. Implementing security changes after deployment of a workload can put the organization’s security at risk
Lack of Tracking & Visibility
Usually cloud customers cannot identify or quantify their cloud assets and/or their cloud environments. This leads to many cloud customers having blind spots in their systems which they may not be aware of and in turn, can expose the organization to threats.
Cloud Compliance & Governance
All major cloud providers have aligned themselves with the most renowned accreditation programs such as HIPAA, GDPR, PCI 3.2. However, it is the customer’s responsibility that their data processes are compliant. As a result, addressing visibility & complexity issues in the compliance audit process becomes a near impossible task. This can be mitigated by using proper tools that are utilized to achieve compliance checks and flag issues in real time.
Why You Should Embrace the Zero Touch Approach
Zero Trust was first coined in 2010 by analyst John Kindervag. In short, the zero trust principle in cloud security is to not trust anything or anyone outside of the secured network. It also emphasizes to verify, authorize and inspect everything.
Zero Trust, for instance, advocates a least privilege governance tactic. In this strategy, users are given access to only those resources that are required to perform their duties. Likewise, it calls for developers to properly secure web-facing applications.
Additionally, zero trust networks make use of micro segmentation to make cloud security more granular. Micro segmentation creates small secure zones in data centres and cloud based deployments. Therefore segmenting between workloads, securing everything within the zone, and applying policies to secure the traffic between zones.
Pillars of Strong Cloud Security
The big cloud security providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure offer a variety of native cloud security services and features. However, supplementary third party solutions are vital to achieve protection from data leaks, breaches and targeted attacks in the cloud environment.
An integrated native/third party cloud security stack is a great method to ensure centralized stability policy based controls. These integrated solutions need to deliver the following best practices:
Zero Trust Cloud Security
Utilize critical resources and applications isolated sections of the provider’s networks, such as VNET or Virtual Private Clouds. Make use of subnets to micro segment workload sections from each other.
Protecting Applications with a Web Application Firewall
This will help to inspect applications & control traffic from web application servers. Secondly, it will automatically update WAF rules in response to changes in traffic behavior. These are deployed closer to the microservices that run the workloads.
Policy Based, Granular IAM & Authentication Controls Across Complex Infrastructures
Grant minimal access privileges to APIs and assets that are important for a group role to execute. Work with roles and groups rather than individual levels to make IAM updates easier as business requirements change. Have higher levels of authentication for more extensive privileges. Enforce good IAM hygiene such as strong passwords, permission time outs etc.
Increased Data Protection
Enhance data protection with encryptions at every transport layer. Secure communications, file shares, and compliance risk management. Maintain good data storage resource practices such as termination orphaned resources, detecting misconfigured buckets.
Enforcement of virtual server protection processes and Policies
Many cloud security vendors provide change management. These updates constantly apply compliance and governance rules when provisioning virtual servers. They also audit deviations in configurations, and take remedial steps where needed
Threat Detection Intelligence
Third party cloud security vendors provide tools that help visualise and frame the threat landscape and encourage quicker response times. AI based anomaly detection algorithms are implemented to detect unknown threats. These threats are then analysed to determine its risk profile. These real time alerts help shorten remediation time.
Given the increasing demand of remote servers and applications to scale operations and adjust remote work, the importance of cloud security cannot be denied. The path to learning cloud security and its implementation can be complex in nature. Subsequently, Finding the right resources and training materials can be a difficult task.
KloudLearn can help you achieve your goal in understanding various aspects of cloud security. Our content library has a vast collection of courses related to cloud computing, cloud security and cyber security. Join our cyber security training program to advance your career in the cloud environment. To know more about how we can help, visit KloudLearn.