What is Cloud Security?
Many businesses today are migrating their critical assets to the cloud. There are numerous benefits to cloud computing such as cost reduction, scalability, faster deployment, and flexibility. In terms of security, it is generally agreed that cloud computing offers less resource-intensive security options than traditional on-premise data centers. For instance, cloud computing enables multi-site redundancy, allowing a more efficient data recovery process and easily accessible backups if a breach or a crash were to happen.
However, despite the security benefits of cloud computing, there are several important security considerations to keep in mind when using the cloud. Without implementing best practices for cloud security, you can be vulnerable to risks such as malware and ransomware. It’s important to note that maintaining a secure cloud environment is a joint effort between your company and your cloud vendor. They both share responsibility for the security of your cloud environment.
Cloud security is a broad and complex topic, so let’s start with the basics – What is cloud security, and why does it matter for your business? Cloud security simply refers to a number of controls and policies that work together to protect your data, assets, and customers’ privacy. As we continually move towards storing more data centers and business processes in the cloud, cloud security becomes even more important. In this article, we focus on critical considerations for cloud security and several specific best practices for improvement that may apply to your business.
Why Do I Need to Worry About Cloud Security?
Investing in cloud security is vital, and it’s a top concern for many companies. Approximately two-thirds of organizations view security as the biggest challenge involved in cloud computing, yet only half of businesses have their cloud databases encrypted. This makes their assets in the cloud vulnerable. Fortunately, cloud vendors and engineers today have the tools to implement multi-layered and comprehensive security measures.
Below, we detail some of the best practices for improving cloud security that is utilized by professionals.
What Are Best Practices for Improving Cloud Security?
Utilize Cloud Provider IAM Features
Generally, cloud providers are responsible for the security of the cloud while responsibility for security in the cloud falls on the customer. Identity and Access Management (IAM) is one feature that falls on the customer to properly implement. IAM simply refers to policies and procedures that enable you to control who can take action on resources and manage user access. IAM is a standard feature of cloud providers such as AWS. IAM enhances security by requiring that users need to be explicitly granted permission to access specific resources.
Large organizations with many workflows and users, in particular, can benefit from the visibility and central control to manage your resources greatly. It provides a higher level of granularity – you can enact controls to your resources based on things like IP address and resource type. You can also use IAM features to enforce security measures such as multi-factor authentication (more on that in a bit).
Encrypt Sensitive Data Stored in the Cloud
Cloud providers also offer encryption services to users so you can easily encrypt your sensitive data. When encrypted, data can be more securely stored in the cloud once transferred over. Encryption is one of the best ways to ensure that only authorized users have access to your data. When your data are properly encrypted before being moved to cloud storage, they can’t be read by an unauthorized user even if lost or stolen.
Most cloud services automatically encrypt data before uploading, but make sure to check if you need to do this yourself through a third-party encryption tool. Ideally, you want your data to be encrypted both at rest and in transport. AWS uses a system called Saftenet ProtectV to secure sensitive data by encrypting virtual machine instances and attached storage volumes. This protects all of your archives and backups from being accessed by unauthorized users. Customers can maintain full control of their data in bare metal, virtual, and cloud storage.
Ensure your IT Security Team is involved in designing and maintaining your Cloud Architecture
Cloud security is a joint effort. Responsibility for security in your cloud environment falls on both your internal IT security team and your cloud provider.
Ensure You Utilize MFA in Your Cloud Environment
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a critical line of defense to use in your cloud environment. MFA requires a user to not only know a password but to also have an associated physical device from which to authorize the log in such as a phone. The authorized device (such as a cell phone) receives a text that requires a response when a user attempts to log in with their password. This extra layer of security serves to protect your cloud environment from unauthorized access by potentially malicious actors.
Implementing MFA is essential because it’s simply too easy nowadays for malicious actors to find passwords and other login information on the dark web. You need the extra layer of security that MFA provides through requiring permission to be granted on another device rather than just using a password alone. You should require MFA for every person you intend to have access to your cloud environment. Additionally, you should make sure that your authorized users combine MFA with passwords that are longer and more complex to ensure maximum protection of your cloud environment.
Maintain Cloud Security Policies, Procedures, and Regulatory Compliance
It is essential to stay up-to-date on all of the latest security regulations, policies, and procedures around cloud computing. Ensuring that you have a standard set of security policies and procedures at your company will help you gain the control and confidence you need to securely run your business in the cloud. In addition, consider using a DevOps approach to software development to ensure that your development and operations teams are in perfect alignment.
AWS and Cloud Security
The cloud provider you choose plays an important role in your business’s cloud security practices. Did you know AWS is the only commercial cloud that has had its service offerings and associated supply chain vetted and accepted as secure enough for top-secret workloads? AWS Cloud Security allows your business to automate manual security tasks so you can shift your focus to scaling and innovating your business. The great thing about AWS Cloud is that you only pay for the services that you use, empowering your business to grow and scale as needed.
You also benefit from AWS data centers and a network architected specifically to help protect your information, identities, applications, and devices. AWS can help your business meet certain core requirements such as data locality, protection, and confidentiality with comprehensive security services and features. For more detailed technical information on cloud security, check out this article.
Touchstone Security can help your company implement Cloud Security Best Practices
Finding a cybersecurity solution that works for your business is tough. Most offerings on the market consist of a set of rebranded tools resold at exorbitant prices. Touchstone Security is different. We will work with you to create a flexible, streamlined cybersecurity program that integrates directly with your business and provides concrete, measurable security. Our team has experience designing, implementing, and managing cybersecurity programs for dozens of Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and businesses around the world.