Protect the Data! A Look at Security and Visibility in Multicloud Environments

At the end of last year, IDC released its 2018 top ten predictions with one sweeping and bold takeaway -- if you’re not in the cloud, you’re isolated from innovation. Frank Gens, IDC senior vice president and chief analyst, stated, “Cloud everywhere for everything is what we’re likely to see over the next several years. Companies need to assess their cloud supplier’s ability to support an expanding range of use cases.”

While we are indeed witnessing a steady cadence of companies moving towards the cloud, it’s often an arduous process with lofty goals that aren’t supported by in-house expertise. To fulfill the expected potential touted by cloud vendors, companies are diversifying through multicloud to achieve a range of features and cost flexibility, while also mitigating license restrictions. Unlike hybrid cloud, which mixes on-premises private cloud and third-party cloud with orchestration, multicloud cherrypicks cloud services from different providers, but does not connect or orchestrate the services.

Although multicloud offers greater accessibility, scalability, and lower upfront costs to adapt to the breakneck pace of modern business, it is a significant undertaking that can easily falter if not planned properly. Oftentimes, companies get caught up in the glamour of being innovative, while ignoring the repercussions of choosing the wrong cloud vendors. Not all clouds or cloud vendors are created equal -- platforms, processes, and security can vary. But what remains a constant is that the data living in each of those clouds are the most precious assets any company has. No matter the mix, existing on-premises security measures will not be adequate for monitoring and defending siloed, multicloud environments.

Top 3 Security Concerns in the Cloud

Whether you have begun migrating to the cloud or you’re in the preparation phase, there are several aspects of cloud security to focus on to ensure sensitive information is not exposed. We’ll ease you into it by starting with the top three:

Protecting Data - What seems like an obvious point, is a massive hurdle for more than one in four companies today trying to protect sensitive assets. Despite the growing “cloud first” culture, organizations still struggle with identifying the delineation of responsibility between themselves and their cloud service provider. With compliance regulations like the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) buckling down on data privacy, the gray area of protecting data, isn’t just an oversight, but a costly mistake.

Access Privileges - Among the top considerations for data protection are “who has access?” and “from what devices do they have access?” Policies like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) allow devices that have not been provisioned with enterprise-grade security controls to be connected to corporate cloud services. While such BYOD policies facilitate employees to connect to data in the cloud from just about anywhere with an internet connection, it also opens pathways to cybercriminals. With identity as the new perimeter, two factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) are becoming a vital consideration for organizations to ensure appropriate user access roles are established and enforced no matter the location of the user, the device being used and cloud environment accessed.

Transition of Current Security Practices - The deployment of a multicloud environment exponentially increases the attack surface as organizations open access to network resources and stored data across distributed environments. By continuing to use existing on-premise security technologies, organizations will not have the deep contextual security that is required to thwart the influx of sophisticated attacks.

Reduced Visibility Increases Risks in the Cloud

The flexibility, agility, and rapid scaling of cloud services from varying providers and implementations present significant challenges for gaining visibility and monitoring the performance and security of the cloud.

Multicloud environments in particular severely diminish visibility into resource utilization, microservice performance, data storage and movement, and application workloads since there are multiple, not always well-integrated platforms and provider systems. While cloud providers may offer a limited view, it certainly does not include packet data or any rich contextual insight critical to problem diagnosis or timely threat mitigation.

While the full power of the cloud can be transformative for companies, it will never see its full potential without first unburdening IT teams from manual monitoring and correlation of threat intelligence. To do this, companies should look to cloud partners that can provide a Visibility-as-a-Service (VaaS) architecture so managing the cloud is never just a guessing game.

Know Your Cloud

Unsure of what is happening in your cloud environment? It’s probably safe to assume you have a cloud problem (let’s be more accurate -- problems). To protect applications and data in a distributed network environment, it’s wise to look beyond the basic built-in security features offered by cloud providers. Instead, consider working with a partner to get to know your cloud by starting with a Cloud Risk Assessment and VaaS to understand cloud applications currently in use and the risks of data leakage, unwanted access, and data exposure.

In our pursuit to protect the data, we’ll be creating future blogs to tackle where we go from here, including topics around User Behavior Analytics (UBA) and Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs), which fill security voids by offering a combination of APIs and traffic inspection technologies to flag employee misuse of cloud resources.

In the meantime, our team of experts are on hand to ensure that customers not only have airtight security, but also sweeping visibility with our VaaS and cloud migration services. Contact us +1.647.793.4731 to discuss your multicloud environment and be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss a post!

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