3 Multicloud Security Considerations for the Modern Enterprise

January 9, 2020
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2 min read

More than 85 percent of companies already operate in multicloud environments and by 2021, 98 percent plan to use multiple hybrid clouds, according to the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV). After cloud adoption, the application modernization trend follows, with an integral part of it being microservices architecture — decomposing monoliths into single-job oriented, containerized services exchanging data over APIs. As most companies are using more than just one cloud for their applications, what does this mean from a cybersecurity point of view?

Here are three aspects that your IT and security teams need to be aware of when it comes to the security aspects of containerized applications.

1. Application Vulnerabilities

The modern application today uses tons of open-source libraries. They are great in general, as they provide a solid baseline to build on top of, but they require vetting applications against publicly known common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) raised against those libraries.

Fortunately, there are tools that scan Docker images of the applications to detect issues. Some public clouds provide integrated vulnerability scanning services, which can not only detect issues in the container image and prevent them from being deployed but also can detect containers’ configuration drift during their lifetime. It’s worth checking to ensure your cloud has this service turned on.

2. Varied Configurations

Each cloud might have different configurations for storage, networking, load balancing and other aspects. Following the configuration as the code design pattern helps significantly, but don’t stop there. If possible, apply policy-driven configurations, ideally making sure that your Kubernetes clusters are set up in exactly the same way, regardless of which cloud you are using.

3. Authentication Differences

Most applications rely on external authentication providers, and there are some differences between identity and access management (IAM) solutions available on public clouds. While there is an ongoing effort to make sure they are somewhat standardized, organizations should ensure they are using the commonly adopted authentication patterns to avoid cases where some instances of your app are better secured than others, running on different clouds.

Centralize Your Cloud Security and Management

As the old IT saying goes, “You cannot control what you cannot see.” It is critical that you either consistently monitor your multicloud environment or invest in multicloud management tools that can help in setting up policy-based compliance profiles. Modern multicloud management can bring visibility to multicloud assets and apply cloud configuration policies to ensure consistent settings are used across environments. Solutions should also integrate application vulnerability scanning technologies to prevent vulnerable applications from being deployed.

Finally, organizations that are moving to multiple hybrid clouds can boost their cloud security posture with a centralized method for tracking all the critical aspects of multicloud environments, combining multiple data feeds and cross-correlating them against known security issues to protect the business.

Piotr Godowski
Software Architect, IBM

Piotr Godowski is a software architect for the IBM Krakow Software Lab in Poland. He has more than eight years of experience in IT endpoint management, inclu...
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