Cloud computing has grown to be a globally accepted concept. However, with that, cloud security threats have emerged to be an ever-growing concern, primarily because organisations in their eagerness to integrate cloud computing, often tend to overlook cybersecurity.
There is no denying that privacy and security are some of the biggest concerns for cloud computing. Despite the initiatives cloud computing offers organisations, there remain cybersecurity challenges organisations need to face, cloud is not the end of cybersecurity as some may believe.
Specifically, an organisation implements a cloud security strategy for efficient and secure storage and sharing of data. Though more secure than traditional on-site storage, the multiple entry points for an attacker can lead to a cloud security breach and a severe reputational and financial loss. Therefore, an organisation must implement robust cloud security controls to maintain its integrity.
Risks Cloud Service Models Can Come Across
While implementing cloud security, it is crucial to understand the shared responsibility model that it works upon, meaning that the cloud provider’s data security is a joint responsibility of both the organisations.
Cloud security is a complex interaction of processes, technologies, controls, and policies that will be tailor-made for the organisation’s specifications. Therefore, while opting for cloud services, organisations should remain aware of their risks and put in place several security measures. The risks associated with each cloud service models are as follows:
1. IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service)
IaaS is designed to deliver on-demand compute, storage resources, and network over cyberspace through a pay-per-usage model. Using IaaS, organisations can run applications or any operating system on rented servers while effectively cutting down server management expenses.
However, IaaS cloud models can suffer data breaches primarily due to a lack of proper awareness and education or in-house IT teams’ misconfigurations. These data breaches can cause large-scale data compliance issues throughout an organisation.
These issues can further lead to legal actions against the company of significant non-compliant fees if left unchecked and unresolved.
2. SaaS (Software-as-a-Service)
The SaaS cloud service model works to implement cloud security controls for their platforms while simultaneously providing application and infrastructure security. Services providing SaaS models don’t own customer data and don’t take responsibility for how their customers use their application.
In the SaaS model, organisations implementing the model are responsible for deploying appropriate cloud security controls for robust risk mitigation.
However, despite the flexibility, SaaS models offer organisations, these models are most susceptible to data leakage.
For most providers, the apparent lack of transparency is a primary concern when working with SaaS. In addition to that SaaS, users don’t have much control over stored data, which leads to obvious trust issues.
3. PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service)
The PaaS model allows organisations to develop, run, and manage applications without relying on specific infrastructure. PaaS vendors hold themselves responsible for hosting hardware and software and storage, network, server, and data infrastructure over their infrastructure.
Additionally, PaaS service providers use app development tools, middleware, and data management. With that, these service providers also provide business intelligence software, and services developers require to build tier applications.
Despite the ease PaaS models provide, the multi-tenancy environment of these solutions often concerns compliance teams. The model relies on shared memory, and disk space with unknown parties located off-premise, leading to several data leakage issues.
Critical Cloud Security Controls For Organisations
For organisations to ensure robust cloud computing security, the following cloud security controls should be considered. Implementing such measures would allow organisations to capitalise their DevOps agility without compromising security fully or compliance cloud computing requires;
1. Identity and Access Management
Organisations must have a comprehensive identification and authorisation infrastructure. It is one of the crucial security frameworks, often referred to as the infamous 3S’s of Security- Authentication, Authorisation, and Access Control.
Identity and access management plays a robust role in breaches involving web applications and stolen or lost credentials as it monitors the control access to user information. Most cloud providers often integrate IAM within their systems as a means of providing security.
The Identity and Access Management system, combined with multi-factor authentication and user access policies, helps users control their data access and use.
Micro-segmentation divides a cloud deployment into distinct security segments going as far as the individual workload level. The successful isolation of individual workloads allows organisations to apply flexible security policies, effectively minimising the impact of a data breach.
This granulated model of storing data allows companies to secure cloud information separately with better security measures. By far, micro-segmentation is one of the most popular cloud security methods employed by cloud computing users.
Micro-segmentation gives companies better control over increasing communications amidst cloud servers while simultaneously bypassing perimeter-based security tools. In cases of a data breach, this micro-segmentation limits the access of information to hackers.
3. Risk Management
Appropriate risk management is one of the most important factors for cloud security as it allows organisations to understand weaknesses within their cloud computing network. A robust risk assessment system within cloud security compromise of vulnerability scans, static and dynamic security testing and several other risk assessment tools
Amidst this, there should be proper integration of threat intelligence, Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), and an Intrusion Detection System (IDS). IDS tools and threat intelligence provide the functionality required to identify current and future threats to the cloud system.
Moreover, the IPS tools help implement appropriate functionality required to mitigate an attack on the cloud computing network. It additionally alerts users of an impending attack allowing a timely response to it.
Cloud technology involves sending and sharing to a cloud provider platform and further storing it within the cloud infrastructure. Amidst this sharing of information to off-site third parties, encryption provides a much-needed cloud security protection layer.
While sharing information on cloud platforms, it is best to encode it with secure encryption protocols while it is at rest or is in transit. This ensures the proper protection of data as it becomes impossible to decipher without its specific decryption key.
5. Automated security
The influx of phishing and social engineering attacks have made humans a weak link in the chain of security. While organisations are focused on creating skilled DevOps teams, human error or mere mismanagement can often expose an organisation to various vulnerabilities.
One way to mitigate this risk is to automate security functions. This organisation can opt for the use of plugins designed to provide administrators with more visibility in the multi-vendor ecosystem while simplifying management and enabling automation.
Separately from that, IT teams can create custom security configuration scripts to best suit their privacy requirements or download a script from security providers to help automate security.
Cloud security controls are the one downside to cloud computing technology, which has been holding it back. However, good awareness on the matter and integration of intelligent security systems can help overcome cloud security risks allowing organisations to move forward with this robust technology.