5 Cloud Security Must-Haves in 2021

Organizations undertaking the move to the cloud face a blizzard of sometimes confusing buzzwords. There’s hybrid cloud, multicloud, digital transformation, microservices and so much more. While these terms can be confusing, the key element to keep in mind is that cloud data security should be an inherent part of business-level strategy and discussion for any successful cloud migration.

The importance of addressing key security and compliance needs weighs heavily on many organizations. It’s a very valid concern, as an estimated 990 million cloud servers are misconfigured.

In addition to cloud misconfigurations, some of the most top-of-mind hybrid cloud and multicloud concerns include:

  • Establishment of a cloud-ready security strategy
  • Lack of experience and expertise coupled with growing skill requirements
  • Need to address compliance requirements
  • Centralized visibility and threat management
  • An overload of new tools and technologies
  • Maintaining security policies across the private/public landscape

Having so many issues to consider at once can be difficult to address effectively. To save time and become more productive, you should begin with these five basic concepts that will improve the outcomes of your cloud security program.

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Cloud Governance and Strategy

At the heart of every successful cloud security program is a well-defined strategy that includes the following criteria:

  • Establishing a security baseline for your cloud environments
  • Understanding where and what your critical data is and who has access to it
  • Defining your security, compliance and industry or regulatory requirements
  • Rationalizing on the right set of controls to meet these requirements
  • Building a target state and roadmap from which to execute

Cloud-Native Security

You may at some point consider whether native security controls from your cloud service provider (CSP) are viable or adequate enough to manage security for your environment. CSPs have varying sets of security controls baked into their cloud platforms. They can provide many advantages, including a limit on the number of third-party licenses you’re managing, flexible consumption, ease of integration and more.

However, a cloud-native security approach raises some questions that need to be answered:

  • Do the native controls have the right level of maturity or provide the right level of visibility to meet your compliance requirements?
  • Which cloud-native controls make the most sense for your hybrid cloud and multicloud environment? 
  • Do you have the right skills to manage a new and rapidly growing set of security technologies?
  • How do you properly design, implement and configure these controls and integrate them into the rest of your security operations?
  • What do you do with all this new cloud security data and telemetry, and what decisions or actions can you take from it?

Once you’ve decided on the native security controls that are right for you, effectively managing those controls and policies requires first ensuring you have the right architecture and policies in place to support your business and regulatory requirements. And you should also have a strong governance layer that allows you to turn your cloud-native telemetry and alerts into actionable, prioritized decision-making. 

Cloud Security Posture Management

Having the right configuration and continuous compliance of your cloud environments is vital for your cloud cybersecurity program, but this can be complex to oversee. You may have multiple teams or lines of business using your cloud services while having to comply with global standards from organizations such as the Center for Internet Security (CIS). Complicating your situation is an inability to get cloud context and correlation fast enough to help in detecting and responding to cloud security issues.

You should consider using cloud security posture management to address these complications and achieve the following goals:

  • Monitor a real-time cloud asset inventory continuously for compliance, regulatory reporting and auditing purposes
  • Prevent breaches by agile detection and response to cloud misconfiguration
  • Continuously harden your security and compliance posture
  • Embed security insights and automation for cloud anomalies

Cloud Workload and Container Security

Your application container environment may face security complexity and visibility challenges, limited testing time during rapid scaling and delivery, increased traffic and threats of container compromise. The following phases of container environments are major risks that can act as threat vectors:

  • Image creation, testing and accreditation
  • Registry for image storage
  • Orchestrator for retrieval
  • Container for deployment
  • Host operating system for management

Fortunately, coverage exists to secure container workloads for a hybrid cloud and multicloud environment. Following a thorough assessment and strategy, you need to consider integration services, design and implementation as well as on-going management for all phases of your container lifecycle. When those capabilities are in place, you have the following security benefits for Red Hat OpenShift, Kubernetes, Docker and other container platforms:

  • Augmented security posture on existing cloud container services
  • Managed security services spread across hybrid cloud environments
  • Help in achieving compliance mandates for container environments
  • Single pane of glass to manage all security functionalities

DevSecOps and Application Security

Development teams focus primarily on producing new applications and functionality for consumers as quickly as possible. Operations teams work on ensuring a responsive and stable system. To meet the increasing demand in the cloud for rapid innovation, development and operations should be integrated to foster collaboration and balance between development and quality.

Security strives to make sure that those rapid application deployments are free of vulnerabilities and comply with regulatory and corporate requirements. 

To most meet the critical objectives of these teams, you should consider a culture shift to DevSecOps methodologies. DevSecOps is the consolidated set of practices that represents a combination of culture, process and technology for its practitioners.

By adding DevSecOps and secure development practices into your workloads, you can benefit from:  

  • Culture with an agile, lean and continuous feedback mindset that aligns with security strategy, risk, governance and compliance
  • Automation for every process for speed, reliability and security, all while using modern tools
  • More opportunities to encourage innovation, as the feedback loop and collaboration leads to increasing autonomy and secure deployments

How To Get These Must-Haves

IBM Security Services is ready to help you learn more about and incorporate these cloud security solutions into your enterprise as you make the journey to the cloud. Register for a webinar on how to “Accelerate your digital transformation with modern cloud security” on April 1, 2021.

The right approaches can help you reimagine and modernize your approach to hybrid cloud and multicloud security.

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Author: Michael Massimi