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Security In The Cloud

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By: Makeia Jackson

May 21, 2021

Public cloud usage is accelerating, and as businesses move their infrastructure and services to the cloud, many take advantage of a hybrid or multi-cloud approach. When companies utilize a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy, they decide to use different cloud services from various providers, such as Amazon Web Service (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP), to name a few. Companies choose this route because a provider may perform a particular service better than other providers, so they put together a more suitable strategy for their company's operation. For example, AWS's biggest strengths are its maturity and global coverage. Azure's power lies in integrating its Microsoft tools and software quickly and easily for customers who already utilize tools such as SQL and Active Directory. GCP is known for the simplicity of many of its products and its Google Cloud management interface. Adopting a hybrid or multi-cloud approach improves a business's flexibility, scalability, and financial standing. It can also bring some security challenges.

Multi-cloud Security Challenges

Choosing a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy for business presents hackers with a bigger attack surface - more entry points into the network. The more services and applications a company operates in the cloud, the greater the chance of a misconfiguration or data leak incident. Listed below are a few security challenges to consider when implementing a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy.

Identity and Access Management

Having numerous users access different cloud services and applications makes it challenging to know what a user can see. Suppose there is no proper access management strategy in place. In that case, the probability of end-users having access to data that they should not have is high—not having an identity management framework in place leaves the organization open to attacks. Hackers are now in a position where they have access to users' accounts and vital business assets. Hackers can then use this information to leak data.

Lack of Visibility

IT teams face many visibility challenges after adopting a multi-cloud platform. One of the obvious is the fact that its cloud infrastructure expands across multiple cloud platforms. An organization utilizes various cloud providers to create a suitable strategy that can provide business operations with the best of best services, avoid vendor lock-in, flexibility, and save cost. Each provider may require multiple services and applications for the cloud to function smoothly, making visibility nearly unmanageable to achieve. Visibility in multi-cloud platforms become more complicated as various account creations occur. Monitoring and managing numerous services and applications used by these accounts can be challenging.

Security Complications

As businesses include more services and applications from multi-cloud providers, their "attack surface" expands and introduces more vulnerabilities into the system environment, leaving the door open for attacks. Each cloud provider implements its security standards to protect business data. It can introduce more problems in a business cloud environment and make it challenging for a business to secure their resources.

Multi-cloud Security Strategies

As businesses move to the cloud, they should focus on integrating and orchestrating around the CIA Triad, governing limitations, and data protection to protect the environment. Here are a few practices that can help improve the security of a multi-cloud structure.

Harden Applications

An organization must take the necessary actions to harden its cloud environment against likely threats. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are an indispensable part of today's tech ecosystem. An organization must know which APIs are exposed and how to mitigate exposure and risk. IT teams must also develop strategies to mitigate an attack should they become compromised.

Encryption Keys

Encryption keys are vital for the protection of data. Encryption keys protect data in use, at rest, and in transit. Without encryption keys, a secure cloud would not be possible. Keys that encrypt data should not be stored adjacent to the data encrypted. Therefore these keys need to be stored somewhere outside of the cloud provider's data center.

Centralized Management

Choosing a multi-cloud approach unlocks the door for a larger attack surface and adds configuration errors compared to a single cloud. A sound multi-cloud management system will allow an IT team to effectively monitor and automate its tech ecosystem across multiple cloud platforms from a single dashboard. A centralized management system will reduce the security challenges a business would face having a multi-cloud platform.

Automate

Automation allows companies to scale or respond to inaccuracies in a more systematic and secure approach. As engineers build out their infrastructure, automation reduces their chances of making security mistakes because they do not have to configure firewalls, security groups, and user access. Automation will allow a business to lessen the occurrence of human error.

Conclusion

The cloud is evolving at an unthinkable rate, and more businesses are taking a multi-cloud approach. Multi-cloud adoption gives businesses more flexibility and ease of choosing the best of services that work for their operation. Businesses who choose a multi-cloud platform also face added risks because they use more than one cloud provider such as AWS, Azure, and GCP. A solution to reducing configuration errors and security challenges in a multi-cloud would be to harden applications, encrypt data, centralize cloud management, and automate.

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