Cloud Security Part 4: 6 Key Security Monitoring Concepts
Cloud is the powerhouse that drives today’s digital organisations. It’s increasingly vital to business continuity and daily operations. In fact, it has become so vital that many organisations would struggle to maintain daily operations without the enablement of Cloud. However, with its growing popularity and importance comes an increased risk of security breaches.
Cyber threat actors are acutely aware of the vital role Cloud plays and that it houses a wealth of valuable data, making it a prime target for data breaches and ransomware attacks. That is why organisations need to have high visibility of their digital assets and continuously monitor their Cloud environment for potential risks.
However, Cloud infrastructure generates a massive volume of data in real-time, which makes monitoring, tracking, and securing an IT environment a serious security challenge for cybersecurity teams.
Creating a monitoring strategy for your Cloud environments is a critical step in providing effective security practices but needs to encompass much more than just security. Monitoring a Cloud environment needs to consider 5 key and often competing factors:
Consider what you want to achieve through monitoring? Performance, security, or reliability? How do you prioritise these often-competing factors to support the business aims? For example, customer access or high throughput at the expense of security? Or high security at the expense of data flow?
In adopting Cloud environments organisations can be exposed to new threats which they have not previously had to consider. They may face new challenges associated with the effective monitoring of their complete IT estate and responding with the required actions across multiple environments.
A security monitoring and response solution that fits both multi-Cloud and on-premises environments should be scalable, adaptable to change and enable the organisation to deliver the benefits of Cloud investment that align with the long-term business strategy.
One of the main drivers behind a monitoring capability is to keep up with skilled attacker groups who are employing automation to discover and exploit misconfigured Cloud assets (e.g., Unrestricted RPC Access) within hours of their deployment.
6 Key Security Monitoring Concepts
When considering a security monitoring solution for your Cloud environment, Adarma recommends assessing 6 key concepts:
1 – Scalability:The ability to monitor ever increasing volumes of data across many distributed locations.
2 – Visibility:Monitoring that can provide more visibility into application, user, and file behaviour can improve identification of potential compromises or attacks.
3 – Real-Time:Activity should be captured within event logs in real time and collected and processed by the monitoring solution as quickly as possible to support a short MTTD (Mean- Time-To-Detection).
4 – Integration:Security monitoring must be able to integrate with disparate tools and Cloud services to ensure monitoring activities are supported by the technology.
5 – Auditing and Reporting: Monitoring capabilities in the Cloud should extend to provide auditable trails to prove controls are effective and to meet compliance requirements.
6 – Data Normalisation:Various data sources must map to a common information model to correlate between the different data types using standard field names and formats to ensure detections cover the whole environment.
When factoring in the previous criteria and concepts, it should be recognised that there is not one single solution that fits every organisation profile. Each organisation will have their own current and planned level of SOC maturity and their own blend and proportions of workloads in different Clouds and data centres.
Different organisations face different threats based on a multitude of factors. Existing investment in tooling, in-house skills and experience as well as internal responsibilities and spans of control will all affect the most suitable solution for each business, whether that be internally managed, externally managed or a hybrid solution.
Considerations when choosing a Cloud security monitoring solution
When choosing a Cloud security monitoring solution that spans multiple environments, you should consider the following:
1 – Careful design and cost management from the outset will enable you to maximise the value and reduce the complexity of your chosen solution as it is adopted across your organisation.
2 – A well thought out Target Operating Model (TOM) will ensure that the right skillset is available to manage and coordinate a unified detection and response strategy with visibility across the whole threat landscape.
3 – Leveraging the expertise and experience of managed service providers and internal stakeholders who understand your broader security requirements can help you develop a strategy and choose the right combination of security tools that fit your specific environment as well as meet the rapid pace of digital transformation and technology evolution.
In our Cloud Security series, we have evaluated 4 key areas you should consider as you grapple with understanding the expanse of your attack surface and how you can consolidate it and shore up defences to ensure you are not an easy target for attackers.
If you can achieve visibility and an understanding of your entire attack surface, and you can understand the third-party risk inherent in your supply chain, while identifying and fixing Cloud misconfigurations and effectively monitoring your cloud environments for potential security incidents, you will have gone a long way to protecting your organisation from a disruptive cyber attack.