Cloud security is essential for a secure and efficient IT system. However, how can both cloud providers and customers guarantee their IT system’s safety? Indeed, the responsibility for cloud security is shared between the cloud provider and the customer. The mechanism of this shared responsibility depends on the service model. The different cloud service models are infrastructure as a service, software as a service, and platform as a service.

The provider’s responsibility is related to the infrastructure’s security. This includes patching and configuration of the physical network. The physical network includes storage and other cloud resources as well as compute instances. On the other hand, the customer’s responsibilities include managing the users’ access privileges such as identity and access management. In addition, the customer is responsible for protecting cloud accounts from unauthorized access, encrypting, and protecting cloud-based data assets. Customers are also responsible for managing security compliance and adherence to security regulations. 

The Most Common Cloud Security Challenges

There are numerous and different challenges when it comes to public cloud security. Indeed, the adoption of modern cloud approaches presents a considerable challenge. These approaches include distributed serverless architectures, automated Continuous Integration, ephemeral assets such as containers and Functions as a Service, and Continuous Deployment methods. 

The most common cloud security challenges that present the most risk to enterprises include:

Lack of Visibility and Tracking: 

In the infrastructure as a service model, the cloud provider is the sole responsible for the infrastructure and has full control over it. The infrastructure is not exposed to customers. As a result, clients are often incapable of identifying their cloud assets, quantifying their resources, and visualizing their cloud environments. This lack of visibility and tracking is also present in the platform as a service model and the software as a service model.

DevOps and Automation: 

in order to effectively implement a proper security system, businesses need to ensure the appropriate security controls are embedded in code during the development cycle. Indeed, deploying changes to the security system after the deployment of the workload can hinder the organization’s entire security and delay the time to market.

Increased Attack Surface: 

indeed, the large public cloud environment presents multiple opportunities for hacking attempts and cloud security threats. These hackers use cloud ingress ports to disrupt workloads in the cloud. 

Ever-Changing Workloads: 

the ever-changing nature of cloud workloads prevents the enforcement of protection policies. Since cloud assets are automatically provisioned and decommissioned, common security solutions cannot meet this dynamic environment. 

Complex Environments: 

complex cloud systems such as multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud require streamlined solutions and efficient tools that can integrate across multiple environments like on-premise environments, public cloud environments, and private cloud environments.

Key Management: 

in general, cloud privileges are extensively granted while organizing cloud user roles. They go beyond what is required. For example, some privileges include database delete or asset addition. These privileges are often granted to users that are not intended to deal with these concepts. This improper allocation of privileges can lead to security risks and exposure of user sessions.

Cloud Compliance and Governance: 

although most cloud providers ensure compliance with well-known accreditation programs such as GDPR, PCI 3.2, HIPAA, and NIST 800-53, the customer still carries a considerable responsibility when it comes to compliance. Cloud users need to ensure that their processes and data are compliant with regulations. Ensuring compliance is a challenging task for clients since their visibility over the cloud assets is poor. This is also due to the dynamic nature of the cloud environment.

How to Maintain a Solid and Secure Cloud Environment

Ensuring and maintaining a secure cloud environment is essential for achieving business-level cloud workload protection from data leaks, breaches, and targeted attacks in the cloud environment. A third-party cloud provider can considerably benefit the enterprise through the provision of a solid security stack and centralized visibility over policies and regulations. These best practices enable seamless security management and efficient business organization: 

Granular and authentication control over complex infrastructures: 

this system enables working with groups and roles instead of an individual Identity and Access Management level. This facilitates the update of Identity and Access Management definitions to accommodate changing business requirements. In addition, it enables granting solely minimal access privileges to assets and resources that are essential for workforce members to carry out their tasks. Managers can allocate higher levels of authentication for users that have extensive privileges. In addition, this process enables the enforcement of strong password policies and permission time-outs. 

Zero-trust cloud security controls across micro-segments and isolated networks: 

this consists of the deployment of business-critical resources and applications in logically isolated sections of the cloud network that the provider offers. This includes Virtual Private Clouds, VNET (Azure), and more. In addition, zero-trust cloud security controls include the process of using subnets to micro-segment workloads from each other to enable granular security policies. Furthermore, thanks to this system, businesses can utilize static user-defined routing configurations to personalize access to virtual networks, virtual network gateways, virtual devices, and public IP addresses. 

Solid virtual server protection policies and processes:

 These include change management and software update regulations. It is essential for cloud providers to apply governance and compliance regulations when providing clients with virtual servers. Another important aspect is auditing for configuration changes and remediating automatically when possible. Cloud providers ensure that this process is appropriately managed as well as all applications are safeguarded with firewalls. This ensures the control and protection of traffic across web application servers as well as automatic updates in response to traffic dynamics. 

Enhanced data protection: 

a fundamental aspect of ensuring data protection is that all transport layers are encrypted, file shares are secure, risk management is compliant, and good data storage system is maintained. For example, this includes the detections of misconfigured buckets and the termination of orphan resources.

In order to ensure compliance, security, and safeguarding of cloud environments and data, businesses and cloud providers need to follow best practices and guarantee successful security and business outcomes.