More companies are moving workloads to cloud computing, and there is a growing concern over cloud security best practices. Such sensitive information that was once secure by isolated walls of an On-Premises environment are now living in the cloud. How can an organization guarantee security? The answer is to develop and implement security best practices for the cloud.
Defining Cloud Security
Cloud Security is a collection of security policies and measures designed to protect the cloud infrastructure. This includes data, applications, services, virtual IPs and environments, and related technologies, and related infrastructure.
It has similar principles as an On-Premises Infrastructure Security model, but is different. The Cloud offers additional exposure to the world and can be a security risk. These cloud data security measures ensure authentication of users and devices, control of data and resources, plus protecting data privacy.
It is also critical that Cloud Security supports the regulatory compliance needs. This requires special attention because compliance may be more difficult in a cloud environment without a clear policy and proper implementation.
Avoid Common Security Mistakes with Best Practices for the Cloud
Many believed the Cloud could offer better security by simply activating the CSP-provided services, which is false. Sure, there are layers in the actual Cloud Data Centers that help security, but in. In the end, you wouldn’t set up your on-premises servers with open ports or default keys/passwords, would you?
Many public and private clouds offer security solutions and baseline recommendations. It is up to the organization to implement security solutions to meet their specific organizational cloud deployment requirements.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for many IT Professionals to make significant configuration errors. Many are not experienced with using a Cloud Infrastructure and guess what should or should not be implemented.
So, let’s start at the top — what are the best practices for securing the cloud?
Top 10 Cloud Security Best Practices Checklist
1. Data Strategy for Cloud Storage
Having a CLOUD STRATEGY is critical to designing what should or shouldn’t live in the Cloud. Like any other workload, the organization must know what type of data it will load in the Cloud.
Understanding the “What you want to have in the Cloud” helps design the overall architecture outside of the basic principles. Knowing what you have will also help make decisions about which cloud platforms to use.
2. Policies and Procedures
The On-Premises policies still apply with the Cloud, but they will likely be altered to adopt to the Cloud. An example of this is if there is a User Access Control Policy. It has to have an extension to the Cloud resources.
This could include integrating a 3rd party solution to help facilitate the controls between different environments or clouds. Also, consider Change Management control or Release Management. All of these basic policies need to be incorporated into the Cloud environment, too.
3. Network Segmentation
Just setting up a firewall in the Cloud isn’t enough anymore. There must be layers in the Network to deter or limit a cyber-attack. This can include segmenting the Network just as you would for On-Premises environments.
You will want to isolate instances, containers, applications, and full systems from each other when possible. You will need to consider additional firewalls specific to workloads like a VM Firewall, potentially leveraging a non-Cloud Provider firewall. You may also consider creating VPN Gateways and Site-to-Site tunneling. This will connect On-Premises to the Cloud and encrypt traffic.
4. Identity Access Management
If you already have an IAM in place today, you will want to extend that to the cloud. It will likely become more granular – if it is not already. The goal is to enforce privilege principals and role-based privileges.
The IAM you are leveraging now may need clean-up or a rebuild. You will want to fix that first. Then your security posture will be in a better state when extending it to the Cloud.
The worst thing an organization can do is have two different setups of IAM because they are using the Cloud. It offers too much room for configuration error and management, and maintenance becomes ineffective, creating a security risk.
You really want one system to be the main brain of the solution. This offers an extension to the cloud or will be the dominant solution in both on-premises and cloud. Let’s also not forget best practices for passwords and multi-factor authentication, too.
5. Data Classification
During discovery of workloads or assets, it is important to also classify them for the cloud. This exercise will help to ensure that the proper security policies are aligned with the data classification.
6. Cloud Security Products
Cloud Infrastructure needs to have more than just Network Security, but also solutions that help you avoid or mitigate security threats. Like On-Premises environments, security solutions should be implemented in the Cloud.
Some cloud security solutions you should consider are
- Security information and event management
- Endpoint detection and response
- Managed detection and response
- System Hardening practices
- Encryption, Certificates
- DDoS Protection
- Key Vaults
- Vulnerability scanning
- regular Cloud and Application Code penetration testing
- configuration issue identification
7. Cloud Workload Automation
Cloud Automation lets workload frameworks to be implemented without having to reinvent the solution. Implement hardening standards are also already in the framework. You are able to easily implement new workloads quickly. From a security perspective, having this automation reduces workload risk. All the checks and balances are in place within the framework design.
A very common mistake for organizations is the assumption that there is redundancy in the cloud. They postpone disaster recovery implementation and never test. Wrong! It is critical to implement backup and disaster recovery strategies and solutions while moving workloads to the cloud.
9. Monitoring and Management
There needs to be continual security and monitoring across all the environments, instances, and cloud services. This includes integration of any on-premises environments with the cloud, so nothing is missed.
It is critical to find the right solutions that can do this for your team. Have one way to monitor and manage. This avoids any delays or mismatch of reporting/alerts. This omni view will also help ensure patching and other regular maintenance practices are still occurring.
Your monitoring/management solution should include a form of Automation. This will help with the management of deployment or configuration mismatch issues. Automation and policies that don’t allow users or groups to set up their own cloud instance limit vulnerabilities. These will help control internal mistakes and compliance issues as well.
You want to make sure that there is a process on how cloud implementation requests occur. It is important to eliminate Shadow IT. This vulnerability has become more common due to the increasing adoption and provisioning speed of the Cloud.
10. Conduct Regular Cloud Assessments
Setting up the cloud and following some best practices does not mean the work is done. In cybersecurity alone there are changes daily on what is recommended, or a new solution to consider. It is important to conduct regular Cloud Security and Health Assessments to continue to improve your journey in the Cloud.
Get Started on Your Journey to the Cloud with Security at the Forefront
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About SDI’s Guest Blogger
SDI’s Director of Solutions GALAXIA MARTIN brings over 20 years of experience in implementing complex IT solutions, infrastructure technologies, and cybersecurity measures. She has designed and led innovative solutions for large organizations while optimizing and increasing growth within support operations. As an IT expert, Galaxia continuously researches and studies innovative technology systems, cyber risks, and industry trends to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving technology environment.
Galaxia holds a master’s degree in Information Systems and is a Certified Ethical Hacker.