June 30, 2016 By Fran Howarth 2 min read

A hybrid cloud environment is one in which both public and private cloud models are used in combination, performing different functions. Often, more sensitive data and processes are confined to the private cloud environment, while less sensitive activities are performed in the public cloud.

According to recent research from RightScale, 71 percent of organizations are using hybrid cloud environments, up from 58 percent in 2015, and 82 percent of those now have a hybrid cloud strategy.

When deploying a hybrid cloud environment, the public and private cloud segments need to be seamlessly integrated so that users can access applications and resources no matter where they are. Comprehensive security is also needed to ensure that the data stored and used in each segment has adequate levels of protection applied to it.

A Three-Pronged Approach to Security

An integrated security model for a hybrid cloud environment consists of managed access, data protection and full visibility into anomalies, threats and activities.

Managed access ensures that user identities and authentication requests are tightly controlled so that only authorized users can access resources held in both environments. Entitlements must be strictly enforced, but users should be provided with the means to travel from one application or resource to another efficiently. This means that services such as identity federation and single sign-on (SSO) are a must to provide the best possible user experience.

Data protection is an ever-pressing concern. It’s also one that is becoming more important as new measures such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the EU, which affects all organizations with any dealings in Europe, loom large. The onus is on organizations to protect all data from attacks aimed at stealing sensitive information that could be used for fraudulent purposes.

To ensure adequate data protection, controls must be in place to identify threats and vulnerabilities and monitor how data is used. Encryption technologies will help ensure that unprotected data cannot fall into the wrong hands. Additionally, full audit trails are necessary to prove that data has only been accessed appropriately. This is only achievable when organizations track all activity related to data access and connected endpoints, especially mobile devices.

The Final Element of Hybrid Cloud Security

The third piece of the puzzle for an integrated security solution for a hybrid cloud environment is gaining visibility into any possible breaches and compliance violations. This requires the use of monitoring technologies alongside risk profiling and security intelligence services that cut across both on-premises and cloud environments.

When anomalies are uncovered, alerts are raised and prioritized for remediation according to perceived risk. This is especially important for compliance requirements and for ensuring that an organization’s security is as watertight as it can be.

With a hybrid cloud strategy becoming an increasingly preferred option for organizations, security controls must cover both private and public cloud environments in an integrated manner. While security has for some time been cited as an inhibitor to cloud adoption, the right tools can alleviate any fears. Organizations can be sure that their data protection and compliance requirements are being met.

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