Cloud security encompasses the technologies, controls, processes, and policies that combine to protect your cloud-based systems, data, and infrastructure. It is a sub-domain of IT security and, more broadly, information security.
This is a shared responsibility between you and your cloud service provider. You implement a cloud security strategy to protect your data, comply with regulatory compliance, and protect the privacy of your customers. This, in turn, protects you from the financial, legal, and reputational consequences of data breaches and loss.
Security in the Cloud is an essential requirement for all organizations. Especially with the latest ISC2 studies indicating that 93% of organizations are moderately or extremely concerned about security in the Cloud, and that one in four organizations have confirmed a Cloud security incident in the last 12 months.
In this article, we will create a comprehensive guide to Cloud security. You will explore the security risks associated with moving to the Cloud, understand why Cloud security is necessary, and discover best practices for Cloud security. We’ll also cover topics such as how to assess the security of a cloud service provider and identify the certifications and training needed to improve your cloud security.
How does security in the Cloud work?
Cloud security is a complex interaction of technologies, controls, processes and policies. It is a practice that is highly customized to the unique requirements of your organization. As a result, there is no single explanation that encompasses the “how” of cloud security. Fortunately, there is a widely established set of strategies and tools that you can use to implement robust security in the cloud, including
Identity and access management
All organizations must have an Identity and Access Management (IAM) system to control access to information. Your cloud provider will either integrate directly with your IAM or offer its own integrated system. An IAM combines multi-factor authentication and user access policies, helping you control who has access to your applications and data, what they can access, and what they can do with your data.
Physical security is another pillar of security in the Cloud. It is a combination of measures designed to prevent direct access to and disruption of the hardware hosted in your cloud provider’s data center. Physical security includes direct access control through security gates, uninterrupted power supply, closed-circuit video, alarms, air and particle filtering, fire protection, etc.
Intelligence, Surveillance and Threat Prevention
Threat intelligence, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) are the backbone of security in the Cloud. Threat intelligence tools and IDSs provide capabilities to identify attackers that are currently targeting your systems or will be a future threat. IPS tools implement capabilities to mitigate an attack and warn you of its occurrence so that you can also respond to it.
Using cloud technology, you send data to and from the cloud provider’s platform, often storing it in their infrastructure. Encryption is another layer of security in the Cloud to protect your data, encrypting it when at rest and in transit. This ensures that data is virtually impossible to decrypt without a decryption key that only you have access to.
Vulnerability and Cloud Penetration Testing
Another practice to maintain and improve security in the Cloud is vulnerability and penetration testing. These practices involve you – or your vendor – attacking your own cloud infrastructure to identify any weaknesses or potential exploits. You can then implement solutions to correct these vulnerabilities and improve your security posture.
Micro-segmentation is increasingly common in the implementation of security in the Cloud. It is the practice of dividing your cloud deployment into distinct security segments down to the individual workload level.
By isolating individual workloads, you can apply flexible security policies to minimize the damage that an attacker could cause, should he or she gain access.
Next-generation firewalls are another piece of the Cloud security puzzle. They protect your workloads using both traditional firewall functionality and newer, advanced features. Traditional firewall protection includes packet filtering, stateful inspection, proxy, IP blocking, domain name blocking, and port blocking.
Next-generation firewalls add intrusion prevention, deep packet inspection, application monitoring, and encrypted traffic analysis to ensure comprehensive threat detection and prevention.
Cloud computing security risks
Whether you operate in the Cloud or not, security is a concern for all businesses. You will face risks such as denial of service, malware, SQL injection, data breaches and data loss. All of these can have a significant impact on your company’s reputation and results.
When you move to the Cloud, you introduce a new set of risks and change the nature of the others. That doesn’t mean that cloud computing isn’t secure. In fact, many cloud providers offer access to highly sophisticated security tools and resources that you might not otherwise be able to access.
It just means that you need to be aware of evolving risks in order to mitigate them. So let’s take a look at the security risks specific to cloud computing.
- Loss of visibility
- Violations of compliance
- Lack of Cloud security strategy and architecture
- Insider Threats
- Contractual violations
- Unsecured application user interface (API)
- Bad configuration of Cloud services
Why Cloud security is necessary
The massive adoption of Cloud technology, combined with the ever-increasing volume and sophistication of cyber threats, is driving the need for security in the Cloud. When considering the security risks associated with the adoption of cloud technology – described above – the failure to mitigate them can have significant consequences.
But not all is negative, Cloud security can also offer significant benefits. Let’s look at why Cloud security is an essential requirement.
- Threats to cyber security continue to grow
- Prevention of data breaches and data loss
- Avoid compliance violations
- Maintain business continuity
- Benefits of Cloud Security
- Choosing a trusted supplier
To move to the Cloud, you need to be ready to implement a comprehensive Cloud security strategy from day one. This starts by identifying the right cloud service providers and then implementing a strategy that combines the right tools, processes, policies, and best practices.
It’s critical that you understand your shared responsibility and focus on compliance. When it comes to Cloud security, your staff – or that of your Cloud service provider – is one of the most critical and often overlooked aspects of defense against cybercriminals.
It is important to remember that cloud computing is no less secure than deploying your services on-premise. In fact, many cloud providers offer advanced security hardware and software that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Choosing the right provider will improve your security posture and reduce your risks, regardless of those introduced by cloud computing.