Security Assessment

What is Cloud Security? The ultimate guideline to secure your cloud security system

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Thy Dang

Content Executive @ Marketing Team|October 16, 2023

Cloud security has become increasingly important because cloud computing is the backbone for many businesses. Cloud-based applications and services allow businesses to scale their operations quickly and efficiently, but they also introduce new cloud server security risks.

What is Cloud Security?

Cloud security is the protection of cloud computing environments, applications, and data. It is a shared responsibility between cloud providers and their customers.

Cloud providers are responsible for securing the physical infrastructure, such as the data center, network, and servers. They are also responsible for securing the core cloud services, such as storage, computing, and networking.

Customers are responsible for securing their applications and data. They are also responsible for configuring and using cloud services securely.

The scope of cloud security includes:

  • Physical networks
  • Data storage
  • Data servers
  • Computer virtualization frameworks
  • Operating systems
  • Middleware
  • Runtime environments
  • Data
  • Applications
  • End-user hardware

Cloud based security can be complex because the ownership of cloud components can vary widely. To simplify, cloud computing components are secured from 2 main viewpoints:

  1. Cloud service types:
    • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): The provider manages the applications, data, runtime, middleware, and operating system. Clients are only tasked with getting their applications.
    • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): The provider manages the runtime, middleware, and operating system. Clients are tasked with managing their applications, data, user access, end-user devices, and end-user networks.
    • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): The provider only manages core cloud services. Clients are tasked with securing all that gets stacked atop an operating system, including applications, data, runtimes, middleware, and the OS itself. In addition, clients need to manage user access, end-user devices, and end-user networks.
  2. Cloud environments:
    • Public cloud environments: Clients share a provider’s servers with other clients.
    • Private third-party cloud environments: Clients have exclusive use of their own cloud.
    • Private in-house cloud environments: Clients operate their own cloud environment from their own private data center.
    • Multi-cloud environments: Clients use two or more cloud services from separate providers.
    • Hybrid cloud environments: Clients use a blend of private third-party cloud and/or onsite private cloud data center with one or more public clouds.

The type of cloud service and environment that a customer uses will affect their security responsibilities. For example, customers who use SaaS services have fewer security responsibilities than customers who use IaaS services.

Learn more: Penetration testing services

How Cloud Security Works

Cloud security systems are designed to:

  • Recover data in case of loss.
  • Protect storage and networks from data theft.
  • Prevent human error from causing data leaks.
  • Reduce the impact of data or system compromise.

Data security uses technical tools and technologies to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access. Encryption is one of the most powerful data security tools, as it scrambles data so that it can only be read by someone who has the encryption key. Other data security measures include transit protections like virtual private networks (VPNs).

Cloud computing security
Keeping track of who has access to the organization’s cloud resources will mitigate the cybersecurity risks – Source: CobraSphere

Keeping track of who has access to the organization’s cloud resources will strengthen the cloud cyber security

  • Identity and access management (IAM) controls who has access to cloud resources. IAM measures include password management, multi-factor authentication, and access controls.
  • Governance establishes policies for preventing, detecting, and mitigating threats. Governance measures can include threat intelligence, safe user behavior policies, and training.
  • Data retention (DR) and business continuity (BC) planning involves technical measures to recover data in case of loss. DR and BC measures include data backups and systems for ensuring uninterrupted operations.
  • Legal compliance involves protecting user privacy as required by law. Organizations must follow regulations to comply with these requirements. One way to do this is to use data masking, which obscures identity within data using encryption methods.

In short, cloud computing security services are designed to protect cloud data and systems from a wide range of threats. By implementing a comprehensive set of security measures, organizations can reduce the risk of data loss, theft, and compromise.

Why Cloud Security is Important

In the past, data security was focused on protecting local systems and networks. However, the rise of cloud computing has forced everyone to rethink about cloud server security.

Cloud data can be stored on servers all over the world, and it is accessed over the internet. This makes it more difficult to protect, as it is more vulnerable to attack.

There are two key reasons why cloud based security is essential:

Convenience over security

Cloud computing is becoming increasingly popular, but security standards have not kept up with innovation. This means that users and providers need to be more aware of the risks of accessibility.

Centralization and multi-tenant storage

More and more data is being stored in the cloud, and this data is often centralized in the servers of a few major providers. This makes it a very attractive target for attackers.

Cloud server security
Cloud is a target for cybercriminals because it stores plenty of confidential data – Source: Bao Dan Tri

Cloud is a target for cybercriminals because it stores plenty of confidential data

Even though cloud providers take many security measures, they do not manage everything. This means that even non-technical users need to be aware of cloud security and take steps to protect their data.

Here are some tips for cloud security:

  • Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.
  • Be careful about what information you share online.
  • Be aware of phishing scams.
  • Keep your software up to date.
  • Use a firewall and antivirus software.
  • Back up your data regularly.

By following these tips, you can help to protect your data and keep your cloud accounts safe.

Challenges in Cloud Security

The public cloud is a fundamentally different security environment than on-premises computing. This is because the public cloud does not have clear perimeters. This becomes even more challenging when adopting modern cloud approaches such as automated CI/CD methods, distributed serverless architectures, and ephemeral assets like Functions as a Service and containers.

Some of the advanced cloud-native security challenges faced by today’s cloud-oriented organizations include:

Increased attack surface

The public cloud environment has become a large and highly attractive attack surface for hackers.

Lack of visibility and tracking

Cloud customers often cannot effectively identify and quantify their cloud assets or visualize their cloud environments.

Ever-changing workloads

Cloud assets are provisioned and decommissioned dynamically, and traditional security tools are not capable of enforcing protection policies in such a flexible and dynamic environment.

DevOps, DevSecOps, and automation

Organizations that have embraced the highly automated DevOps CI/CD culture must ensure that appropriate security controls are identified and embedded in code and templates early in the development cycle.

Granular privilege and key management

Cloud user roles are often configured very loosely, granting extensive privileges beyond what is intended or required. At the application level, improperly configured keys and privileges expose sessions to security risks.

Complex environments

Managing security in a consistent way in the hybrid and multi-cloud environments favored by enterprises today requires methods and tools that work seamlessly across public cloud providers, private cloud providers, and on-premises deployments.

Cloud compliance and governance

Customers are responsible for ensuring that their workload and data processes are compliant with industry regulations. Given the poor visibility as well as the dynamics of the cloud environment, the compliance audit process can be very challenging.

In short, cloud security is a complex and challenging issue. However, there are several steps that organizations can take to improve their cloud security posture, such as:

  • Implementing strong identity and access management (IAM) controls.
  • Using encryption to protect data at rest and in transit.
  • Monitoring cloud activity for suspicious behavior.
  • Educating employees about cloud security best practices.

By taking these steps, organizations can help protect their data and systems from a wide range of cloud security threats.

Tips for Cloud Secure

There are a number of things you can do to protect your data in the cloud, including:

Encryption

Encrypt your data before storing it in the cloud, or use a cloud provider that encrypts your data as part of the service. This will protect your data from being accessed by unauthorized individuals, even if they are able to gain access to your cloud account.

Configuration

Make sure to configure your cloud security settings correctly. Many cloud data breaches are caused by misconfiguration errors. If you are not sure how to configure your cloud security settings, you may want to consider using a separate cloud security solutions provider.

Basic cyber security steps

Follow basic cyber security best practices, such as using strong passwords, using a password manager, protecting your devices, and backing up your data regularly. Here are some additional tips for cloud security:

  • Don’t leave the default settings unchanged. Hackers often target systems that are using the default settings, so it is important to change these settings as soon as possible.
  • Don’t leave a cloud storage bucket open. An open bucket could allow hackers to see the content just by opening the bucket’s URL.
  • Use the cloud vendor’s security controls. Most cloud vendors offer a variety of security controls that you can enable to protect your data.
  • Use strong passwords and a password manager. This will help to protect your cloud accounts from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.
  • Protect all of your devices. If you use any devices to access your cloud data, make sure that they are protected with strong passwords and anti-virus software.
  • Back up your data regularly. This will help to protect your data from being lost or corrupted.
  • Modify permissions to prevent any individual or device from having access to all of your data unless it is necessary.
  • Use anti-virus and anti-malware software. This will help to protect your system from malware that could be used to access your cloud accounts.
  • Avoid accessing your data on public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi networks are often not secure, so it is best to avoid accessing your cloud data on these networks. If you must access your cloud data on public Wi-Fi, use a VPN to protect your connection.

By following these tips, you can help protect your data in the cloud and reduce the risk of a data breach.

Our Solution

CyStack offers to review configurations and assess security controls of your cloud infrastructure. The cloud security audits will go through 6 steps: architecture review, security configuration review, policy and procedure review, compliance assessment, penetration testing, and remediation guidance. Then, we provide you with a comprehensive and detailed report. Besides, there is a customized dashboard to manage your cloud cybersecurity risks.

Conclusion

It is important to remember that cloud security is not a one-time event. It is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and improvement. By staying up-to-date on the latest cloud security threats and best practices, you can help to keep your cloud data safe and secure.

You may also want to consider working with a cloud security provider to help you develop and implement a comprehensive cloud security strategy. Cloud security providers as CyStack have the expertise and experience to help you identify and mitigate the risks associated with cloud computing.

By taking a proactive approach to cloud security, you can help to ensure that your cloud data is safe and secure.

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