As more and more businesses move towards cloud-based operations and embrace digital transformation, security is increasingly becoming an important question. As an enterprise migrates to the cloud, its assets and data resources need to be migrated as well, and that might expose the sensitive information.
Further, managing security in the cloud is quite challenging because the security measures offered by the cloud provider might not be strong or robust enough to keep your business safe and if you opt for another on-premise solution, it can lead to integration problems and budget inflation.
Hence, you need to strike the right balance between interconnected cloud technologies and the best cloud security practices.
But then again, how to attain this state of balance?
How to decide which security provider is the right option for you and how to identify the right security measures to put in place for protecting yourself from attackers?
Here, we explore the answers to these questions and share the key considerations you must have in mind while selecting a cloud security provider.
Let us begin by taking a quick look at some of the major cloud security challenges faced by organizations.
Cloud Security Challenges That Organizations Face
While the security considerations and challenges vary from one organization to another, some challenges are common for every enterprise.
1) Lack of Visibility
Many cloud services are accessed through third parties from outside of the corporate networks. Hence, it is quite easy to lose track of your data access activity and that can lead to serious security concerns.
Further, managing the level of data access and setting the access rules for sensitive information in an organization such that the workflows are not disrupted is also an organizational challenge.
2) Access Management
As the businesses migrate to clouds and teams become remote and distributed, the dangers of security attacks amplify because it becomes tough to implement the access restrictions. Further, lacking proper bring your own device (BYOD) policies also allow employees to use their devices for accessing company assets and resources, thereby increasing their vulnerabilities.
Finally, the enterprises have to decide on authentication and validation policies and workflows such that the employees are able to access the right information at the right time without proper abstraction.
IBM suggests that misconfigured assets are responsible for 86% of breached data records and are one of the main challenges for maintaining security in cloud environments. Some common examples include not changing the default admin passwords, not setting the device security to a maximum, or not adhering to the cloud security norms.
If you are using public cloud services, your odds of getting in the crosshairs of attackers targeting some other firms increase. This is because multiple business organizations are accessing the cloud services from the same cloud at one time.
Hence, if some attacker is really motivated to inflict harm on one company, and discovers your vulnerabilities during the process, you can become an innocent target and victim.
Compliance management is another crucial challenge that companies encounter during cloud migration, and is a source of confusion as well as costly compliance issues for them. There are various regulatory requirements for compliance in cloud environments, and all of them include different conditions for customers, employees, and organizations.
Apart from adding to the operational burdens of an enterprise, compliances also lead to confusion and reliance on third-party services.
Now, before we move on to discuss how to overcome these challenges, it is important to understand the types of computing environments.
Types of Cloud Computing
Depending on the category of cloud computing services being used, there are four different types of cloud computing that are explained in the following section.
1) Public Cloud Services
These services are provided by a public cloud provider and include various categories, such as:
- Software-as-a-service (SaaS)
- Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)
- Platform-as-a-service (PaaS)
These services are shared by multiple people, organizations, and processes.
2) Private Cloud Services
These services are offered by a private cloud operator and all the services are customized and dedicated to only one customer. However, the management of these services is done by a third party.
3) Community Cloud Services
In this system, the cloud services are provided by a third-party cloud service provider just like in a private cloud services system but the services are managed and operated by internal staff members.
So, you can understand them as an evolved form of traditional data centers where your in-house staff manages and operates the virtual environment they use.
4) Hybrid Cloud Services
In this system, the enterprises use both the private and public cloud environments such that they can leverage their specific functionalities as per their business requirements. The operation and management involve both the parties - cloud providers and in-house staff.
Now, let us move on to find out the best practices for selecting the right cloud security platform.
How to Select the Right Cloud Security Platform?
Below, we share some of the key considerations that you must keep in mind while choosing the right cloud security platform. These key considerations will help you figure out your cloud security needs so that you can compile a robust security portfolio and avoid being vulnerable to security attacks.
1) Does It Provide Mechanism Against Unauthorized Access?
Unauthorized access remains to be one of the most crucial challenges in the cloud environments as 32% of the companies still fell prey to unauthorized access to cloud resources. One of the major reasons behind this is the poor or inadequate implementation of identity and access management policies in the cloud environment.
While many of us believe unauthorized access to be something done by illegal hackers only, ex-employees, external consultants, partners, etc are also found responsible for the same.
Hence, when you choose a cloud security provider, it is important to confirm that you have clear visibility and monitoring in the system so as to ensure unauthorized or misplaced access stays at bay.
2) Protection of Cloud Connections
One of the major sites of security attacks in a cloud environment is the loose end-point security in the network. When your company resources connect to the cloud or internet they need to be secure such that no later threat movement can occur.
Hence, apart from using the standard security practices such as VPN, virtual firewalls, and port management, you need to make sure that the devices connecting to the cloud or any other external resource do not leave the safety of secure networks.
Also, it is important to educate your staff regarding the right and safe browsing practices so that they don't fall prey to email phishing or malicious software download accidents while using the company devices for personal browsing.
3) Data Encryption
Encrypting your data is one of the crucial key considerations that you must have in mind while using cloud services. Encrypting your data ensures that all the information exchanged between all the parties involved in a communication, interaction or service are secure and resilient to data leaks.
While choosing a communication platform for your company, you have to make sure that it adheres to the encryption standards, such as TLS 256-bit encryption, etc. Also, you need to identify whether the platform you are using offers encryption for data transfers only or storage as well.
You must choose a cloud security platform that is well-aligned with your security needs.
4) Compliance Standards Adapted
Organizations that are critical to the public infrastructure, such as retail, healthcare, financial services, banking, etc., have to adhere to strict governance and compliance regulations for cloud services. These compliance requirements vary from local and state governments as well and might come with a number of operational overheads from one location to another.
Hence, it is important to review your particular compliance requirements and ensure that the cloud service provider meets those data security needs. It is always better to invest in a cloud security provider that offers automated compliance management as you don't have to check for every single compliance manually.
5) Visibility Into the Cloud Data
Visibility is one of the most important aspects to consider while choosing a cloud security platform. Be it the people, processes, tasks, departments, resources, or assets - your cloud admin (you) should be able to see "who is working on what" and "who accessed which asset or resource for what purpose and how much time".
The visibility applications and use cases are not limited to these two scenarios only, but they offer you a well-defined idea of how you must be able to see, monitor, track, record, and report all the activities happening in your cloud environment.
This visibility allows you to identify any fishy activity happening in your system and always ensure that the system security is in the desired state.
6) Consider Price
While all organizations wish to have the most secure and state of art cloud security platform, the services, and platforms of such systems come with a price tag. You must invest in a cloud security platform that is well within your organizational budget as well as serves the current security and cloud needs you have.
What makes the cloud environment so amazing is the fact that you can upgrade any service, including the security features as and when required.
So, identify the current security needs you have and then choose the platform that suits your budget as well as caters to your security needs.
7) Incident Response Plan
As important as it is to have a secure cloud environment, it is important to ensure that you have a reliable and robust risk strategy as well. This strategy must have proper measures for risk control, mitigation, management, monitoring, and containment.
It is also called an incident response plan and allows you to respond to every security incident without falling into a state of panic.
Good Read: 5 Things You Must Add to Your Incident Response Plan
8) Control Over the Cloud Data It Offers
Finally, it is important to make sure that the cloud security provider allows you good control over the cloud data and information that it offers or stores for you.
You must have the sole rights to data access and sensitive data manipulation as cloud interference can make it vulnerable to security attacks.
Getting Started: Investing In the Right Security Provider for Your Cloud Security
By now you might have realized that investing in the right cloud security provider is a must as cloud migration comes with many challenges and security considerations. The best way to do so is to identify the needs your enterprise has for cloud security, cloud services, and data storage.
Next, proceed to find out the best platforms that offer cloud security & mobile app security testing company offerings aligning well with your business needs. Finally, pick the one that offers the best in class security standards without overriding your budget.