Cloud security is a buzzword in the world of technology these days — but not without good reason. Endpoint security is now one of the major concerns for businesses across the world. With ever-increasing incidents of data thefts and security breaches, it has become essential for companies to use efficient endpoint security for all their endpoints to prevent any loss of data. Security breaches can lead to billions of dollars worth of loss, not to mention the negative press in the business world.
This is why it is vital for companies to use cutting-edge endpoint security technology for their cloud computing systems. If you are working with cloud systems in any capacity, you must also use cloud security to safeguard data breaches.
However, before you develop a good understanding of cloud security, the first and most important step is learning about cloud computing and its essential properties.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing can be best described as a range of hosted services offered through the internet. It replaces the need to store all computing infrastructure in a physical server environment, a physical computer or an on-premises data center. Cloud computing works with off-site hardware for hosting different types of services and encompasses software systems and storage solutions.
This flexible cloud model offers a range of strategic benefits for the users, including:
- Easy scalability
- Quick start deployment
- Reduced costs for initial setup and long-term use.
When an organization has extensive privacy and compliance requirements, it can work with hybrid cloud infrastructure, which makes use of both cloud and physical computing ecosystems.
Because cloud computing works very differently from on-site hosting systems, it is necessary to protect the cloud environment using cloud security infrastructure. Through cloud security, it is possible to deal with the privacy and cybersecurity challenges posed by the cloud environment.
Cloud security involves everything used to safeguard sensitive data stored within the cloud. Using a variety of techniques, procedures, methods and controls, cloud security protects cloud applications and infrastructure from any kind of online abuse or unauthorized access.
Some cloud security aspects require more effort by the cloud customer than what cloud service providers can offer. This is particularly true for zero trust cloud architecture.
Endpoint security has to do with the processes used for securing endpoints like desktops, laptops, servers and mobile devices from possible malware, unauthorized access and all other kinds of cybersecurity threats. As more and more companies work with cloud computing, endpoint security has increased in importance as it allows users to protect their cloud-based applications and data.
Endpoint security in a cloud environment is something that most modern organizations need to think about when they start adopting cloud-based services. Through endpoint security, it is possible to implement practices for protecting endpoint devices, like laptops, mobile devices and desktops. Within the cloud environment, the tools of endpoint security help to secure the devices connecting to the cloud-based services and applications.
Endpoint security for the cloud infrastructure involves multifaceted and complex processes that use different types of technologies and practices to ensure application and data security.
These are some essential features of cloud-based endpoint security:
- Endpoint protection. Cloud endpoint protection is carried out with security software like firewalls, antivirus tools and systems for intrusion detection and prevention. These programs help to protect the endpoints from numerous security threats. Endpoint protection in the cloud is often provided by cloud-based security experts who are trained mainly to protect the cloud-based endpoints.
- Data encryption. Through data encryption, it is possible to convert plain text into an unreadable format so that it is only possible to decrypt it with a secret key. Data encryption in the cloud is vital for protecting all kinds of sensitive data from being accessed by unauthorized parties. The endpoint security solutions for cloud systems often use data encryption as a standard security feature.
- Identity and access management (IAM). IAM functions as a critical element of endpoint security for cloud computing. IAM includes tools for managing user identities and access to cloud-based resources. It includes authorization, authentication and access control. Such functions are essential for ensuring the protection of sensitive applications and data in the cloud.
- Threat intelligence. Threat intelligence is a process that uses information about cyber threats to identify and prevent security breaches. Threat intelligence can help identify potential security vulnerabilities and threats in cloud-based endpoints. Endpoint security solutions for the cloud typically include threat intelligence features that offer real-time detection and prevention of threats.
- Compliance and governance. Compliance and governance functions are crucial aspects of cloud-based endpoint security. Organizations need to comply with different industry standards and regulations to ensure the privacy and security of cloud-based data systems and applications. The endpoint security solutions for cloud platforms typically include governance and compliance features to help organizations meet such requirements.
Endpoint security for the cloud is an essential feature of the cloud security infrastructure that organizations must implement for better security. By using endpoint security measures and systems in the cloud, organizations can ensure the privacy and security of cloud-based applications and data. It also helps to comply with the regulatory requirements and ensures protection against cyber threats.
Challenges and solutions to cloud-based endpoint security
As companies try to migrate their diverse data and operations into the cloud, the importance of endpoint security has increased for all kinds of cloud applications. Cloud infrastructure offers cost efficiency, flexibility and scalability and also presents a fresh range of challenges for securing the endpoints.
The following challenges are associated with cloud-based endpoint security:
- Absence of physical control. A major difficulty in securing the endpoints within the cloud system is an absence of physical control over the devices. The cloud system is a completely virtual environment, and organizations cannot secure their devices physically as they are able to do with the traditional endpoints. As a result, it can be challenging for them to implement and preserve security controls.
- The complexity of handling security requirements. Another distinct challenge associated with endpoint security in a cloud environment is the complexity and difficulty of maintaining security across numerous cloud services and providers. Organizations that work with multiple cloud providers and services have to make sure that each service is properly secured. This can be an arduous and time-consuming task.
- Different risks. Cloud-based endpoints involve different risks compared to traditional endpoints and are typically more vulnerable to data breaches, malware infections and account takeover attacks. This is because the cloud-based systems and endpoints are highly accessible to attackers since they are based in a cloud environment.
Here are some solutions for endpoint security in the cloud:
Learn about IBM Endpoint Security services
- Using endpoint protection platforms (EPPs). EPPs protect endpoints from different types of cyber threats. The EPPs are often deployed within the cloud environment. They can be integrated with many other cloud security solutions to provide complete endpoint security.
- Implementing IAM systems. IAM systems can help organizations easily manage user identities and monitor access to cloud applications and services. In this way, IAM tools can prevent unauthorized access to the cloud-based endpoints.
- Deploying cloud access security brokers (CASBs). CASBs serve as security solutions that can provide control and visibility over cloud-based services. The CASBs make it easier for organizations to monitor and secure cloud-based endpoints through the implementation of access controls and security policies.
- Educating employees. It is important to invest in employee training and education when it comes to maintaining robust and strong endpoint security in the cloud. Organizations need to educate employees regarding the best practices for securing data and devices in the cloud environment. Such practices include installing security software, updating it regularly and avoiding risky online behavior.
Crucial components of cloud-based endpoint security
Implementing endpoint security solutions for cloud systems is a major challenge for organizations. Nevertheless, by consulting with the right cloud security service providers, businesses can mitigate risks and ensure robust endpoint security.
Organizations should leverage solutions such as EPPs, CASBs and IAM tools, and also educate employees regarding the best practices for securing their data and devices in the cloud environment. Having such tools and measures in place can make it easier for organizations to protect their diverse cloud-based endpoints and critical operations and data.
It is important to implement the following endpoint security systems in the cloud:
- Robust protection against cyber threats. More often than not, cloud-based endpoints are vulnerable to cyber threats such as phishing attacks, malware and data breaches. Endpoint security in the cloud can make it easier for organizations to protect themselves by systematically monitoring malicious activities and preventing unauthorized access.
- Compliance with regulations. Numerous industries have regulations for monitoring and protecting sensitive data, such as financial information and health care data. Using endpoint security in the cloud makes it easier for organizations to meet such regulations and steer clear of costly fines.
- Maintaining optimum business continuity. If a data breach or cyberattack occurs, compromised cloud-based endpoints can result in lost revenue and significant downtime. Endpoint security systems within the cloud ensure smooth maintenance of business continuity by minimizing or preventing the impact of security breaches.
Best practices for endpoint security in the cloud
When implementing your organization’s endpoint security in the cloud, keep the following best practices in mind:
- Implementing strong and reliable authentication measures. Having strong authentication measures like two-factor authentication can make it easier to prevent unauthorized access to cloud-based endpoints. Organizations must update their endpoint security systems regularly and patch the systems to address vulnerabilities.
- Using endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions. EDR systems and solutions are created to easily detect and systematically respond to various forms of advanced endpoint threats. By identifying and regulating threats before they spread through the whole cloud environment, EDR solutions can help keep your endpoints safe.
- Managing and monitoring user activity. Through careful monitoring of user activity on cloud-based endpoints, it is possible to detect malicious activities and unauthorized access. Efficient user activity monitoring can assist in identifying the areas where it is necessary to implement additional security controls.
- Updating and patching software regularly. Regularly patching cloud-based endpoints helps address vulnerabilities and ensures protection against known threats. Organizations need to implement a systematic and regular patching schedule as well as test the patches prior to deploying them within the production environments.
- Educating employees. It is important to invest in employee training and education to maintain proper endpoint security in the cloud. Organizations need to educate employees regarding the best practices on cloud security to secure their data and devices. This involves installing security software, avoiding risky online behavior and reporting suspicious activity.
Organizations that regularly store and manage their applications and data in a cloud environment must focus on implementing endpoint security best practices. This can protect them against possible cyber threats, maintain business continuity and comply with regulations. Organizations can implement practices having strong authentication measures, monitoring all user activity, using high-end EDR solutions, regularly updating and patching security software and educating employees regarding strong endpoint security within the cloud. Following such endpoint security best practices can ensure the protection of the cloud-based endpoints so that critical operations and data can be safeguarded.
Critical security risks in the cloud environment?
The importance of cloud security has increased over the years. In that time, numerous enterprises have opted for cloud adoption when managing their data and applications. Unfortunately, many types of security challenges emerge while companies invest in cloud solutions. Some of these challenges include:
A more widespread threat landscape
Since many people use public cloud environments nowadays, this has increased the vulnerability of the cloud environment to data breaches as well as other critical security risks. When business entities fail to do their due diligence for security needs, they may leave their data open to criminal exploitation. In many instances, companies may not even realize their data has been stolen.
Lack of control over cloud security services
A major reason for the popularity of cloud adoption is that cloud service providers often handle security management, maintenance and upgrades. Even though this is a major benefit, it can severely limit the scope of an organization to exercise control over the way security is implemented and monitored.
Automation in DevOps
Cloud hosting brings with it the option to automate most of the continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) processes and DevOps that organizations employ to streamline their operations.
Weak access management
When organizations opt for cloud adoption, it is vital that they have a dedicated framework for managing access control. In most cases, they use a standard free-for-all arrangement that allows users more access than they actually need for their work. This can enhance the chances of security risks both internally and externally as cyber criminals may have access to the privileges of the users.
Inconsistent security features in complex environments
Numerous organizations work with a hybrid cloud environment or a multi-cloud environment, which uses several public and private cloud providers along with on-premise solutions. Such a situation can give rise to inconsistent use of security protocols, thus enhancing the chances of successful cyberattacks.
Even though a majority of the well-known cloud providers have tried to get security certifications for well-known cybersecurity frameworks, customers are still accountable for ensuring that their security systems and processes comply with major security protocols.
Six pillars of cloud security
Even though there are numerous differences between traditional security and cloud security, organizations can boost their security parameters against cyber threats in the cloud. This is why companies need to exercise due diligence when securing their cloud systems, just like in on-premises environments.
These six pillars of cloud security are crucial for securing the cloud:
- Secure access controls. Implementing secure IAM protocols creates a robust security framework. Team members should only have the level of access to assets, systems and application programming interfaces they need to carry out their job responsibilities. When privileges increase, there should be higher levels of authentication needed to gain access. The employees need to take ownership of security and also use better password policies.
- Zero trust network security controls. The mission-critical applications and assets used by the organization should be kept within strategically isolated parts of the cloud network. These can be virtual private cloud systems. By segregating the sensitive workloads from the ones that do not need data security protocols, it is possible to enforce micro-segmentation with strict security policies.
- Change management. By working with change management protocols offered by the cloud security providers, it is possible to manage change and use compliance controls whenever changes are requested. This should also be done when new servers are provisioned or sensitive assets get changed or moved. Change management applications offer auditing functionality to users, which can help in monitoring unusual behavior and possible deviations from the protocol. This means the organization can investigate the problem and trigger automatic mitigation to correct the issue.
- Web application firewall. A web application firewall (WAF) makes it easier to scrutinize traffic going in and out of servers and web applications. By monitoring and alerting administrators regarding any suspicious behavior, a WAF can strengthen endpoint security to avoid breaches.
- Data protection. Enhanced data security is possible when an organization encrypts its data at all layers. There should also be security protocols for communication applications, file sharing and other areas within the environment where the organization stores, uses and transmits data.
- Continuous monitoring. Numerous cloud security providers offer valuable insight into cloud-native logs, enabling comparison with internal logs taken from other security tools like asset management tools, vulnerability scanners, change management tools and insights from external threat intelligence. Such efforts increase the chances for rapid incident response and make it easier to implement remediation workflows.
Cloud-based endpoint security keeps your business secure
Cyber criminals are always looking for ways to attack endpoints and infiltrate servers while avoiding notice. Therefore, it is crucial that businesses invest in endpoint security so that they are able to prevent breaches.
Through endpoint security, it is possible to benefit from better data protection and encryption features that prevent criminals from achieving their nefarious purposes. Implementing cloud security features can secure data access, prevent infiltration and deliver benefits like better monitoring of user activity.