Hello friends, I hope you all are doing great. Organizations are increasingly adopting cloud computing. It provides a number of benefits, including decreased cost and overhead and increased scalability and flexibility. However, the cloud is not an ideal solution for every organization and use case.
As companies continue to store sensitive data in the cloud, data security is becoming a significant concern. For many organizations who have moved to the cloud without implementing proper security controls, sensitive data is being leaked or stolen from their cloud environments.
Challenges of Cloud Security
While many organizations are moving to cloud deployments, they often struggle with securing their new investment. Each cloud represents a new environment to operate and secure, and the organization’s security responsibilities are determined by the cloud shared responsibility model. Since many organizations operate multiple clouds, securing an entire cloud deployment becomes an even more complex challenge.
A New Operating Environment
Many organizations, when they move to a cloud environment, treat it as similar to their existing on-premises deployment. Applications “lifted” to the cloud are often identical to the versions running on-premises, which can create inefficiencies when optimizations and workflows that worked on-premises do not translate well to the cloud.
Moving to the cloud without adapting to the cloud can also create security issues for an organization. In most on-premises environments, internal applications are not accessible from the public Internet except through the organization’s firewall and other cybersecurity defenses. In the cloud, which is not located behind these same defenses, a vulnerability in an application could be potentially exploited by an external attacker when it may not have been accessible before.
The Cloud Shared Responsibility Model
A common challenge among security teams is a lack of understanding of the cloud shared responsibility model. In an on-premises deployment, an organization owns their entire infrastructure stack, giving them full visibility into it and control over its configuration. In cloud environments, an organization is leasing infrastructure from their cloud service provider (CSP), meaning that they share security responsibility with their provider.
For the 73% of security professionals who struggle to understand the cloud shared responsibility model, securing data in their organizations’ cloud deployments can be a challenge. This model defines which security responsibilities belong to the CSP, customer, or are shared between them. A lack of understanding of these responsibilities and the tools that a CSP provides to secure a cloud deployment can leave an organization open to attack.
A Multitude of Cloud Services
For security professionals struggling to secure a single cloud deployment, the fact that most organizations have a multi-cloud deployment only complicates the issue. For each cloud environment, the security team needs to learn how to properly configure the security controls provided by the CSP. Since these security controls vary from CSP to CSP, the learning curve for securing an organization’s entire range of cloud resources can be extremely steep.
And this only covers the cloud-based resources that the organization’s security team has authorized and has visibility and control over. In many organizations, employees trying to more efficiently perform their job responsibilities may move sensitive data to the cloud without authorization. These cloud resources make it easy to share data with other authorized parties through sharing links, but these same links (which make the data accessible to anyone with the URL) also make the data much more vulnerable to being breached.
The Cloud and Data Protection
One of the clearest indicators of the challenges of securing the cloud is the number of cloud users who have been the victim of a data breach. Over half of companies with a cloud deployment have breached sensitive data through their cloud services.
However, this high rate of data breaches is not surprising considering how organizations use their cloud deployments:
- 26% of companies store sensitive data in the cloud.
- 49% of data in the cloud is eventually shared.
- 10% of data shared in the cloud uses a public link.
- 91% of cloud users do not encrypt data in the cloud.
The cloud provides a great deal of valuable functionality to its users. However, it also represents a significant threat to an organization’s data security. A platform located outside of the organization’s network that is accessible via the public Internet and has built-in collaboration capabilities that easily enable insecure data sharing make it extremely easy for sensitive data stored there to be breached.
Securing Your Cloud Deployment
When securing a cloud deployment, especially one spanning multiple different CSPs’ platforms, it is important to design and deploy a cloud-focused security strategy. While CSPs commonly offer configuration settings to secure data and applications stored on their infrastructure, the available settings vary from provider to provider, making it difficult to enforce consistent security policies and controls across an organization’s entire network environment.
Securing the cloud requires cloud-focused and cloud-native solutions. As many organizations use the cloud to host web applications, a cloud-native web application firewall (WAF) is essential for protecting these cloud-based resources. Organizations also require data security solutions to ensure that data is properly encrypted in the cloud and monitored to ensure that it is not being inappropriately uploaded to the cloud or shared using cloud collaboration tools.
With over half of cloud users experiencing a data breach, protecting data in the cloud is a serious problem. Any organization using cloud computing must evaluate how they are currently securing their cloud resources and deploy defenses to close any gaps endangering their sensitive and valuable data.