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What you need to know about cloud security

Cloud computing and cloud security are rapidly expanding, driving questions about cloud adoption, cloud migration, and security solutions. We’ve all heard about the complexity, the costs, and the containers, but most professionals can benefit from additional insights. Get all of your cloud computing questions answered here!

Define cloud computing? What is the definition of cloud computing?

Cloud computing refers to the delivery of hosted services, including software, hardware and storage, via the internet. The benefits of rapid deployment, flexibility, low up-front costs, and scalability have transformed cloud computing into a nearly universal element of business infrastructure. Cloud computing environments are often part of hybrid/multi-cloud infrastructure architectures.

The cloud computing security risk: Is there risk in cloud computing? 

Yes, cloud computing security risks exist. But the cost of cloud computing is not necessarily greater than that of traditional computing. There is risk in cloud computing in the way that there is risk to on-prem or physical architecture. Big risks include data security, data privacy, vendor lock-in, and meeting compliance requirements.

Despite the risks, when accounted for properly, cloud computing is as reliable as traditional computing. An increasing number of organizations are shifting business initiatives to the cloud. Don’t let security concerns prevent your organization from deploying a scalable cloud-based infrastructure.

As an organization, be sure that you ask good questions of cloud vendors and be sure to adopt a cloud security solution provided by a reputable cloud security vendor. Ensure that all systems meet regulatory compliance mandates for your industry.

Can cloud security be hacked?

Cloud data is typically stored in encrypted form, making it difficult to access in a hack. Nonetheless, where a vendor chooses to store encryption keys can impact the probability and success of a cyber attack. Vendor-held keys can be stolen or misused without the data owner’s knowledge. Some vendors do empower data owners by allowing them to upload and download files through service-specific client apps that feature encryption capabilities. However, this set-up comes with complexity and challenges. Beyond cyber crime, the most significant security concern is actually data loss.

What is the Cloud Security Alliance?

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a non-profit organization that provides resources around cloud computing. CSA offers a well-known cloud security provider certification program called Security, Trust & Assurance Registry (STAR). The Certified Cloud Security Professional certification (CCSP) is also available through CSA. In addition, CSA maintains the Global Consulting Program, which enables cloud professionals around the world to connect with service providers.

Key cloud security statistics:

  • 75% of cyber security professionals report that they are “very concerned” about public cloud security.
  • Organizations perceive misconfigurations of the cloud platform as the largest threat to public cloud security.
  • Lack of qualified staff is cited by organizations as among the largest barriers to cloud adoption
  • Professionals report that the most significant considerations in selecting a cloud security provider include: ease of deployment and cloud-native tools.
  • Professionals report that key criteria in evaluating a cloud security solution include product features, costs, and vendor experience.
  • Most organizations rely on multi-cloud solutions, with most organizations deploying more than three cloud solutions in their environment.

What are the pillars of cloud security?

  1. Although cloud providers, like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure (Azure) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) provide a variety of native cloud security features and services, additional third-party solutions are critical when it comes to achieving business-level cloud workload protections. Organizations must avoid breaches, data leaks and targeted attacks in the cloud ecosystem. Only an integrated, cloud-native/third-party security stack can offer the centralized visibility and policy-based granular controls necessary to deliver the following industry best practices:
  2. Granular, policy-based IAM and authentication controls across complex infrastructures. Collaborate with organizations and individuals rather than at the IAM level in order to improve IAM definitions as business needs evolve. Only grant the minimal access privileges to assets and APIs that are critical for a group or role to execute on tasks. The more elaborate the privileges, the higher the levels of authentication. Beyond that, move towards good IAM hygiene, enforcing strong password policies, permission time-outs…etc.
  3. Zero-trust cloud network security controls across complex, isolated networks and micro-segments. Organizations should deploy business-critical resources and apps in logistically isolated sections of a given provider’s cloud network. Organizations should leverage subnets to micro-segment workloads from each other with granular policies at subnet gateways. Dedicated WAN links in hybrid architectures and static, user-defined routing configurations to customize access to virtual devices, networks, gateways and IP addresses can also help.
  4. Enforcement of virtual server protection policies and processes. Cloud security vendors offer robust Cloud Security Posture Management by consistently applying governance, compliance rules and templates when provisioning virtual servers, auditing for configuration deviations, and remediating automatically where possible. For more on the central tenants of cloud security, check out this article.

What are the cloud security threats facing the public cloud?

Organizations rank the following threats as the largest obstacles for public clouds:

  1. Misconfigurations of the cloud platform/incorrect set up
  2. Unauthorized access
  3. Insecure interfaces/APIs

How well do traditional network security tools/appliances work in cloud environments?

Traditional cloud security solutions either have limited functionality in the cloud, or do not work at all, according to Check Point Software survey participants.

What are cloud security risks?

Cloud security risks include:

  • Misconfigurations
  • Unclear security architecture strategy
  • Insufficient identity and permissions management
  • Compliance violations
  • Weak control plane
  • Metastructure and application structure failures
  • Poor visibility into cloud environments

All of these elements can independently or synchronously lead to a data breach. Ensuring that all of these components of a cloud architecture have adequate security is integral in maintaining a cloud-based business.

What are cloud security standards?

Cloud security standards exist to protect organizations, clients, insurance companies and other ecosystem players from compromising and costly unwanted cyber events. Achieving and maintaining cloud security standards compliance can be tough. Ensure that your organization meets cloud compliance standards by adopting cloud-based tools.

  • Arrange active monitoring of cloud-based systems.
  • Leverage tools that assist with visibility
  • Consider SIEM (security information and event management) solutions into your toolkit
  • Consider third-party audits to support compliance

What are cloud security issues?

As many as ninety-four percent of organizations are extremely worried about security issues in cloud computing. The largest threats that IT professionals perceive include cloud misconfigurations, unauthorized access, insecure interfaces and hijacked accounts.

  • Misconfigurations. In cloud security, misconfigurations are a primary culprit haunting cloud-based data breaches. Misconfigurations are often to blame when organizations lack full visibility into their cloud data. An organization’s cloud service provider (CSP) may configure and secure cloud deployments, leaving an organization’s IT professionals blind to technical changes, fixes and faux pas. This is especially true in instances where CSPs are arranging multi-cloud deployments with different vendor-provided controls. Thus, it’s easy for a misconfiguration or security slip to occur.
  • Insecure interfaces. In many instances, CSPs offer several application programming interfaces (APIs) and interfaces for their customers. Overall, these interfaces are well-documented in an effort to make them as simple as possible for customers to manage. However, the documentation that customers can use to manage cloud-based storage can also be stolen and coopted by cyber criminals. When this occurs, cyber criminals may access and exfiltrate an organization’s intellectual property or other critical data.
  • Hijacking of accounts. Weak password security is a proliferate problem. People reuse passwords all of the time out of sheer convenience. As a result, when a cyber criminal gains access to a password, he or she may use that password to unlock other accounts.

For organizations, account hijacking represents a top cloud security concern. A hacker with access to an employee’s username and password can potentially gain restricted access to an organization’s core infrastructure; fussing with data or functionality. Compromised customer credentials are also a concern.

What is cloud security architecture?

 Cloud security architecture is intended to provide organizations with visibility into their cloud-based data and cloud-based events. Organizations should build cloud-based security architecture into their cloud planning agenda. Adding security after the fact is complex and consuming.

A cloud security architecture should be rooted in cloud security best practices. Understanding and deploying these practices demands an education in cloud security concepts. Some of the most important cloud security concepts to focus on include the shared responsibility model and the principles of Zero Trust security.

What are cloud security services?

Cloud security and cloud security services function to protect cloud-based data, applications and infrastructure. With cloud security services, organizations can work with vendors to take a more structured approach to cloud management. Building a roadmap and digging into data helps organizations with compliance and overall threat management. This, in turn, assists organizations in staying ahead of threats.

What is cloud security monitoring?

Cloud security monitoring is essential in preventing cloud-based cyber attacks. Cloud security monitoring often depends on automated solutions and tools that record information about cloud-based data, applications and infrastructure. With cloud security monitoring software, organizations can form a neat picture of security threats.

Whitepapers on cloud computing?

Getting the right information on cloud computing can mean the difference between stopping cyber intruders and letting them in. Cyber Talk can recommend multiple white papers on cloud computing. Here’s a short list of our favorites:

For more informative whitepapers, check out Cyber Talk’s whitepapers section, or click here.

Expert insights into cloud computing?

  • Check Point expert Ian Porteous offers insights here.
  • Check Point expert Antonio Amador offers insights here.
  • Check Point expert Grant Asplund with a cloud security story here.

For additional cloud interviews, curated content and business development resources, visit Cyber Talk.