We have all heard the castle-and-moat analogy to describe traditional centralized approaches to cybersecurity. As cloud security becomes increasingly important in the modern landscape, I think we should add one more component to the analogies we use to think about security: fog. Sometimes the fog is so thick that you can barely see what is in front of you or within your environments.
When you move to the cloud, security and visibility are two things you absolutely cannot downplay.
Why Is Cloud Security Important?
The cloud is ever-developing, and the only way to grow your business in the long term is to have the right security strategy around your cloud environment. According to MarketWatch, in 2019, the size of the global cloud computing market was $62.73 billion, and it is expected to reach a whopping $383.78 billion by the end of 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.2 percent during 2021–2026.
Cloud security is one of the key inhibitors to migration to the cloud and, therefore, no organization can afford to ignore it. Still, while 75 percent of all organizations will have deployed a multicloud model in 2020, 80 percent of enterprise workloads have yet to migrate to the cloud. And the only way to do this is by having a clear cloud security strategy; no matter the size or maturity level of the organization, it needs good visibility across hybrid, multicloud environments.
Let’s take a look at the most used types of clouds and cloud services, then dive into what I think the most common challenges are and how you can help your security team better navigate this journey, no matter where your workloads are located or how dense the fog has become.
Different Types of Cloud Deployments
Out of the four main types of clouds — private, public, hybrid and multi — hybrid cloud and multicloud are the most popular for organizations of all industries and sizes.
A hybrid cloud is an environment that uses a mix of on-premises, private cloud and third-party, public cloud services and employs orchestration to integrate the two.
In a multicloud model, organizations leverage two or more cloud platforms to perform various tasks. Organizations that do not want to depend on a single cloud provider may choose to use resources from several providers to receive the best benefits from each unique service.
Regarding cloud services, software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings continue to be the largest market segment and are forecast to experience steady market growth, according to Gartner. The second-largest market is infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).
4 Key Cloud Security Challenges
No matter which model or type of cloud your organization uses, security is the one thing you cannot afford to put off for later. When we talk about cloud security, there are several challenges organizations are facing today, but in my personal view, the following four are the most critical.
1. Lack of Expertise
Security expertise, or the lack thereof, continues to be a key concern. Whether you are already navigating the cloud or just starting your journey, you need the right personnel with the right security tools to enable your team to keep up with this quickly evolving technology.
Visibility is one of the first challenges your team needs to address since you can’t control what you can’t see. To help identify threats and anomalies early in the attack life cycle, it’s important that your security team has complete visibility into the systems, networks, applications and activities across your environments — no matter your cloud deployment model.
3. Managing Compliance
Managing compliance is another big concern for organizations. Companies need to keep up with changing regulations and standards, some of which are different by industry or country, such as the GDPR, FISMA, SOX, HIPAA, ISO 27001, PCI and more. Organizations may face significant compliance and regulatory fines if they are not current.
4. Lack of Control
Lack of control is also a challenge to consider. If you use public cloud services — as almost everyone does — your organization does not have ownership of the hardware, software or applications on which the cloud services run. You need to ensure your cloud vendor has an appropriate security posture.
Secure Your Cloud Environment With an Evolving Strategy
Organizations need the right tools to achieve better visibility and to detect and address threats quickly, regardless of where they occur. To achieve real-time threat detection, teams will likely need a solution that is deeply integrated with cloud services like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, SalesForce.com, Office 365 and IBM Cloud, as well as with traditional on-premises infrastructure.
Depending on your cloud service model, your organization will share some responsibilities with your cloud vendor. But, in my view, your security team should continuously monitor and optimize their cloud security processes. If you have a SIEM-as-a-service solution, you can help your security team address ever-growing threats, complex security projects and compliance demands, regardless of a skills shortage or the challenges of managing multiple vendors and products.
With the different types of cloud deployments and service models available, and a large chunk of workloads still remaining on-premises, the threat landscape is becoming more complex every day. It is crucial that you adapt with an ever-evolving security strategy as you prepare for or reinforce your migration to the cloud.
Listen to the “Defense in Depth” podcast on securing hybrid cloud