Top 10 Security Considerations When Launching Your Cloud Environment

Cloud Security is a collection of security measures designed to protect the cloud infrastructure. It has similar principles to an on-premise Infrastructure Security model but is different. The Cloud offers additional exposure to the world and can be easily vulnerable. These measures ensure the 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. Companies are moving more workloads to the Cloud and there is a growing concern on how to secure it all. With 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?

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 the end, you wouldn’t set up your on-premises servers with open ports or default keys/passwords, would you? Although 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 requirements. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for many IT professionals who are not experienced with using a Cloud Infrastructure to make significant configuration errors by guessing what should or should not be implemented.

So, let’s start at the top — what are the best practices for securing the cloud?

Strategy. 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 the basic principles.

Policies and Procedures. The On-Premises policies still apply with the Cloud, but they will likely be altered to adapt 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.

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. Furthermore, you may also consider creating VPN Gateways and Site-to-Site tunneling for connecting On-Premises to the Cloud and encrypting traffic.

Identity and Access Management (IAM). Again, 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 the least privileged principles and role-based privileges. If you are leveraging an IAM now, and it requires a clean-up or a rebuild, you will want to consider that first to have your security posture 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, management, and maintenance to become ineffective. You really want one system to be the main brain of the solution to help offer an extension to the cloud or be the dominant solution in both on-premises and cloud. Let’s also not forget best practices for passwords and multifactor authentication, too.

Data Classification. During the discovery of workloads or assets, it is important to also classify them for the cloud. This exercise will help to ensure proper security policies are aligned with the data classification.

Cloud Security Products. Cloud Infrastructure needs to have more than just Network Security, but also solutions that help you avoid or mitigate security threats. Similar to On-Premise environments, security solutions should be implemented in the Cloud. Such solutions like a SIEM, EDR, MDR, System Hardening practices, Encryption, Certificates, DDoS Protection, Key Vaults, Vulnerability scanning, regular Cloud and Application Code penetration testing, and configuration issue identification should be factored into your Cloud Security.

Cloud Workload Automation. Cloud Automation allows workload frameworks to be implemented without having to reinvent the solution or implement hardening standards since they would already be in the framework. Not only are you able to easily implement new workloads quickly, but from a security perspective, having this automation allows the reduced risk of the workload since all the checks and balances are in place within the framework design.

Disaster Recovery. A very common mistake for organizations that consider the Cloud is the assumption that there is redundancy in the Cloud, such that DR implementation can wait and/or never be tested. Wrong! It is critical to implement a Backup and Disaster Recovery strategy and solutions while moving workloads to the cloud.

Monitoring and Management. There needs to be continual security and monitoring across all the environments and instances. 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, to have one pane of glass for monitoring and management to avoid 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 that can help with the management of deployment or configuration mismatch issues. By having automation or even a policy in place that doesn’t allow users or groups to set up their own cloud instance, you are able to control internal mistakes causing compliance issues or unintended vulnerabilities. You want to make sure that there is a process on how cloud implementation requests occur. It is important to eliminate Shadow IT, as this particular vulnerability has become more common due to the increasing adoption and provisioning speed of the Cloud.

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.


SDI provides comprehensive cybersecurity services – from initial vulnerability assessments through 24X7 cyber incident monitoring and response programs. Whether you need comprehensive IT services across the security spectrum or need assistance to drive vigilance and resilience across your enterprise, SDI stands ready to serve you with executive-level experience and government expertise to help leverage your technology investment now and into the future.

If you have any questions or want more information about our cybersecurity services, please give us a call at 888-YOUR-SDI (888-968-7734) to explore how the SDI Cyber Team can protect your organization’s IT asset.

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.