Experts predict that the trend towards Cloud computing will continue to grow in popularity, with more and more organisations choosing to invest in hybrid and multi-cloud solutions. Gartner estimates that worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services will grow to 20.4% in 2022 to total $494.7 billion, up from $410.9 billion in 2021, and that it will reach $600 billion by 2023.
This uptick in Cloud spending can be largely attributed to the outbreak of the global pandemic, which saw businesses across the globe rapidly embrace Cloud technologies to enable an almost fully remote workforce and ensure business continuity.
At the time, Cloud deployments seemed like the perfect solution to such unprecedented problems by enabling software, services and infrastructure to be accessible from any device. It also provided easy, mobile access and recovery to data.
But, as is so true with any undertaking, haste often leads to gaps in decision-making and less than perfect deployments. This tended to be the case as organisations rushed to roll out cloud services, resulting in cloud misconfigurations, which are now one of the most likely ways an organisation will suffer a breach. Even though the immediate pressures of the pandemic have eased, a combination of a permanent hybrid workforce and the need to be more agile is driving companies to continue their sprint to Cloud.
This “Cloud spawl” with a lack of governance and strategy poses challenges in cost control, security, and visibility across the organisation’s attack surface. With a range of Cloud services spread across multiple locations, departments and devices, cybersecurity teams struggle to maintain visibility of their digital infrastructure. This loss of visibility means that they struggle to see who is using the organisation’s Cloud services and what type of data they are accessing. You cannot defend against what you cannot see.
But, with the right Cloud data security measures in place, security teams can address existing vulnerabilities while also ensuring that Cloud adoption comes at a minimal-security risk. Here are our top 5 best security practices to secure your Cloud environment.
Before rushing to the Cloud, organisations should pause and take the time to develop a strong Cloud strategy. This means putting in place the proper security policies and ensuring end-to-end visibility of the organisation’s Cloud data and applications. Putting in the leg work early on allows organisations to identify and resolve misconfigurations, application performance issues, and security threats before they become a problem. Armed with a well-structured plan, organisations can control the growth of their Cloud environment, ensure that their resources and Cloud environment grow proportionally, and that their IT-team is not overwhelmed. This also affords the organisation time to test and validate their Cloud security controls before they expose the organisation.
Planning may also highlight expertise gaps and lack of capacity in-house where a third party might be best suited to provide support. It’s better to have support in place rather than call in experts after something goes wrong.
Apply multi-factor authentication
Applying multi-factor authentication (MFA) to all users of across all your Cloud services provides an additional barrier of protection to your Cloud environment, that can protect against attacks that attempt to steal identities required to access Cloud services.
According to Microsoft, you are 99.9% less likely to be compromised if you use MFA. So, whether using a company VPN or an office application suite, employees should be required to provide more than just their username and password.
In addition to blocking unauthorised users from automatically gaining access to accounts, the notification sent out by the MFA service, which asks if the user attempted to login, can also act as an early alert that the company could be the target of a cyber-attack.
Backup and encrypt data
No network is unbreachable, so it’s vital for continuity that businesses regularly back up their data. Having a virtual copy of data means that files are easily accessible and readily available in the event of a disaster.
Encryption renders the data unreadable, concealing it from threat actors and ensuring that even if the worst should happen, the information will be useless without the encryption keys. This applies even if the data is lost, stolen or shared with an unauthorised user.
Encryption also helps organisations meet compliance with data privacy and protection regulatory standards. It offers enhanced protection against unauthorised data access from other Cloud tenants.
Apply security patches as swiftly as possible
Cloud applications may require software updates as vendors develop and apply fixes to their products to work better. Similarly, patches may also update for newly identified vulnerabilities or emerging cyber threats. If updates are not applied quickly enough, the organisation is at risk of a cyber-attack. Cyber criminals could exploit a vulnerability in one of your Cloud services as an entry point to the network that can be used to launch further attacks.
Choose Cloud applications that are easy for your employees to use
Organisations can strengthen their Cloud security by providing their staff with the right tools. Cloud applications need to be accessible and intuitive to use, otherwise organisations run the risk of employees becoming frustrated and turning to other public Cloud tools instead.
When employees turn to easier alternative tools outside of the organisation’s Cloud environment, the risk of data theft significantly increases. Corporate data could easily be lifted from a personal account, which could potentially lead to a data breach or wider compromise of the organisation’s network. Organisations should invest in tools that are simple to use and educate staff on how to use them correctly and how to follow cloud security best practises.
How Adarma can help
Understandably, taking control of your exposure in a Cloud-smart world can seem like a daunting task, particularly if you lack the in-house expertise and capacity to effectively manage your Cloud environment as it grows. A trusted managed security service provider can help ease this burden by assessing and advising you on how to move your Cloud security strategy forward.
The right partner should be able to ensure your Cloud configurations, policies and controls are correct. Adarma provides a comprehensive Cloud security service that can assess, enable or managed your cloud security requirements. Our team of Cloud specialists can advise, guide and support you to confidently manage risk, reduce the impact of threats and consolidate disparate Cloud applications and workloads.
Our Managed Detection & Response for Cloud service ensures you are monitoring your entire Cloud environment and can quickly detect, respond to and remediate risks to ensure that your Cloud deployments are not introducing additional business risk.
For more insights and tips on how to manage your exposure in a Cloud-smart world, please see our 4-part Cloud Security series.