How to Secure Your Cloud Investment - Security Boulevard

How to Secure Your Cloud Investment

Cloud adoption was already a safe bet in 2020, but the pandemic drove a rapid acceleration of this trend last year. Enterprises’ average cloud spend went up 59% from 2018, according to IDG’s 2020 State of Cloud report. That same report found that security is the greatest obstacle organizations are facing when attempting to take full advantage of this booming resource.

According to (ISC)², 1 in 4 organizations confirmed a cloud security incident in the past 12 months, demonstrating the need for all businesses to have an effective cloud security strategy in place.

As businesses ramp up cloud initiatives and accelerate digital transformation, the importance of keeping data safe, customer and employee privacy intact and meeting necessary compliance requirements cannot be overstated. Many businesses have already discovered that legacy security tools are not cloud-compatible, so to properly support the cloud-based solutions that you’ve invested in, you will need to have a grasp on cloud security, as well.

The (ISC)² report also found that 82% of organizations say traditional security solutions either don’t work at all in cloud environments or have only limited functionality (a notable decrease from the previous year’s survey response of 66%). So how do you maintain security when your workloads are in the cloud?

Embrace a Security-First Method

As you invest in more cloud-based solutions, you need to continuously evaluate how security is involved and managed – keeping a security-first approach. Choosing the right, trusted solution provider will ensure that you’re using the best built-in security features and tools. Most cloud-based solutions incorporate security, but you should receive a thorough explanation from providers on what security measures are available, how robust they are and any steps you need to take to ensure they are operating at maximum efficiency.

Fifty-eight percent of organizations rely on their cloud provider’s native security tools, but if you are not properly using those tools, they are not running at full efficiency. Remember, you are ultimately responsible for keeping your business safe and secure, whether on-premises or in the cloud.

When it comes to challenges with public clouds, organizations ranked misconfiguration of the cloud platform (68%) highest, followed by unauthorized access (58%), insecure interfaces (52%) and hijacking of accounts (50%). Keeping up with cloud security and properly managing the various components can also be challenging, which is why 34% of organizations are looking to hire more staff dedicated to cloud security.

Secure Your Endpoints

Employees continue to be the first line of defense against security incidents. Cybersecurity professionals agree that 59% of employees would benefit from security training and/or certification for their jobs. At minimum, employees should complete basic security training that covers accessing cloud applications safely and avoiding phishing schemes – common ways for cybercriminals to access cloud data. Security policies need to address all of your cloud services and should be revisited frequently to ensure that this is done.

Having educated employees using proper security protocol is mandatory, but having endpoint security in place is also a necessity. Employees are now accessing business data and cloud services from multiple endpoints, across multiple devices, from multiple locations. Companies should implement endpoint detection and response (EDR) and mobile device management (MDM) solutions, as well.

Seek Additional Cloud Security Solutions

Cloud applications and connections need to continuously be monitored for threats, with proper systems in place to identify risks and prevent attacks. Deploy solutions including next-gen firewalls, email security, mobile security, network segmentation and use a zero-trust approach whenever possible.

Secure access service edge (SASE) provides granular detail about user characteristics, authenticating and granting access to the network.

For users accessing SaaS programs and cloud-based applications over the public internet, encryption should happen at the application layer. Additionally, when available, use web application firewall (WAF), which is designed to protect HTTP and filter content bound for the web service, further protecting users when on public internet.

Always Assess Cloud Security

Thorough assessments should always be conducted before implementing new solutions, but also at periodic intervals as the security landscape changes and evolves. It’s important to have a process in place for evaluating your current setup, identifying new requirements and predicting future needs. In the past year alone, many businesses were forced to implement cloud-based solutions very quickly. Now that some of the dust has settled, you should review what you have running in the cloud and ensure that your security measures are up to par.

Cloud security will continue to be a top initiative as the aggressive growth of cloud applications, IoT and edge computing continues. Additionally, stricter compliance guidelines and regulations are being enforced across industries, further inflating the need for cloud security. According to Gartner, cloud security is predicted to increase by 33% this year, becoming a $585 million market. That means there is a strong chance your business will be investing in more cloud-based solutions this year. Don’t forget that the investment needs to be backed by a strong security posture tailored to your company’s cloud needs.

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Palo Alto Networks

Jim Bowers

Jim Bowers is Security Architect for TechGuidance.com, which serves as an unbiased resource to help CIOs, CTOs, IT personnel and business owners select the right technology. An authority in cybersecurity, Bowers has more than 20 years of in-depth security engineering knowledge gained in finance, healthcare, manufacturing and technology. His expertise ranges from architecting complete security infrastructure, to assessments for vulnerabilities, risk management to phishing training and simulation, DDOS mitigation, endpoint protection and Managed SOC. 

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