Enterprise Cloud Security With 20/20 Vision

Think back to your last routine eye exam: Chances are the examiner presented charts for you to view through different lenses and asked, “Is it better before or after?” Depending on your answers, you may have needed to take corrective action to bring your vision back to 20/20.

Hopefully, you’re taking good care of your eyes, but have you also performed a recent checkup on the health of your cloud security vision for the year 2020 and beyond? As production workloads and information assets increasingly migrate to the cloud, the threat landscape continues to evolve.

Just like your vision, the protections you deploy and rely on for the cloud and from the cloud must regularly be evaluated. They must also be corrected (where necessary) to stay fit for the task of safeguarding your environment. When assessing and focusing in on your organization’s vision for enterprise cloud security, you should evaluate it against the right criteria — and course-correct where necessary.

Tracking Relevant Activity Via Deep Discovery

Expanding production capabilities and information assets to the cloud should happen deliberately and according to your overall strategy. Left unplanned and unmonitored, configurations, new services and your data could be left exposed to unnecessary risks. The increased flexibility and elasticity inherent with software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) environments comes with the need for ongoing monitoring and management.

As new workloads and information assets appear on your network, you must have the ability to view these assets in the context of your policies and should be able to assess the potential impact of these new services. Equipping yourself with the right cloud discovery capabilities can help ensure you have the clearest view of the entirety of your cloud-deployed assets.

Active and Intelligent Cloud Security Operations and Response

One checkup is rarely sufficient to maintain your overall health. Similarly, with cloud security, the ongoing monitoring, active identification and management of incidents is necessary to maintain the overall health and security of your deployments. An integrated and intelligence-driven approach is required to manage complex and sensitive workloads. You need a solution — preferably one delivered from the cloud, that can process, correlate and make sense of an expansive and expanding set of data, historical and real time.

Taking a systematic approach to identifying an event, generating alerts and responding to anomalous behavior by detecting and correcting for potential misconfigurations, can not only help accelerate your ability to migrate production workloads to the cloud securely, but it can also help ensure the right frameworks are in place to protect your production workloads going forward.

Analytics Around Users and Entities

Through the strategic lens of your cloud security vision, strong considerations should also be given to continuously evaluating the potential of insider threats. For all cloud deployments, strong credential management is recommended, including the definition and enforcement of who is allowed in and who is not. All default configurations should be reviewed with measures taken to ensure roles and levels of accesses are explicitly defined. It should also ensure common misconfigurations are avoided.

When it comes to anomalous user behavior, it’s rarely sufficient just to monitor your cloud users. A baseline of expected behavior should be established — and users who continuously deviate from this baseline should be prioritized for further review. Best practices can involve employing a solution to track and increment a risk score with capabilities that include capturing a forensic audit trail of events and analytics where required.

Integrated DevOps Controls

Effectively managing cloud deployments also requires expertise and skills in developing, testing, deploying and running code in the cloud. DevOps frequently plays one of the central roles in the implementation and delivery of compliance mandates within the organization.

Often, DevOps can be the first stop for auditors looking for confirmation that the right controls are in place. Secure DevOps services should be demanded to help safeguard the organization’s golden images and hold accountability for new migrations of code to the cloud.

In addition to provisioning, DevOps should also have clear ownership of the secure de-provisioning of environments so that active services are limited to only those required to operate your business. Where staffing these resources is difficult or simply not feasible, it’s imperative to ensure that your provider can handle the required tasks and help secure and manage on your behalf.

Defense in Depth — and Breadth

Defense in depth as a cornerstone of information security best practices is both established and well-known. With cloud security, defense in breadth must also be emphasized.

The solution you deploy must have the ability to collect from, defend and protect a wide array of cloud deployments, including SaaS, IaaS and hybrid deployments. With the right enterprise monitoring, security operations and response capabilities in place, organizations can adopt new cloud services with confidence — and securely migrate an increasing set of production workloads to the cloud.

Take Action to Correct Your Vision

Now is the time to conduct a checkup on your cloud security vision for 2020. With a clear view of how to best secure your data and your operations in the cloud, you can help ensure that the vision for your cloud environments is a secure one.

Join the upcoming IBM Security webinar, “Protecting the Expanding Perimeter: Cloud Security with IBM QRadar” on June 13, 2018, and learn how you can enhance your cloud security and visibility as well as implement cloud security best practices across multiple cloud deployments.

Contributor'photo

Chris Collard

Program Director for QRadar Cloud, SaaS and MSSP, IBM Security

Chris is an information security professional with over 15 years of experience managing information systems and...