Protecting data and applications in the cloud involves managing people, processes and technology with stringent policies. There has been a tremendous increase in the number of organizations migrating to the cloud due to its excellent reliability, scalability and reduced costs.
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Cloud security plays a key role in this transition and journey to cloud, and it involves examining an organization’s data processing and storage practices to outline unique strategies for protecting data. Using the best cloud security practices is essential for any organization because of the severe reputational consequences of not doing so.
Best practices for cloud security
The cloud has changed the way applications and data are accessed and consumed compared to the days when everything resided in traditional data centers. The cloud service model requires adequate security measures and a framework to provide appropriate guardrails. These best practices center on the idea that cloud users should familiarize themselves thoroughly with the services they’re purchasing and use the security resources made available by their cloud service provider.
1. Cloud security as a shared responsibility model
Security in the cloud is implemented using a shared responsibility model. Simply put, it will always be the CSP’s job to ensure the safety of their customer’s data and the virtualization platform itself.
The cloud user must understand the risks involved and take the initiative to design and implement adequate security controls. Some examples include knowing when it’s necessary to encrypt virtualized storage, setting up the virtual network and firewalls, and choosing between shared and dedicated hosting.
Security in a cloud environment is the joint responsibility of the CSP and the cloud user, with some overlap in certain areas. Many current cloud security issues stem from customer confusion over who is responsible for what. The cloud user, rather than the CSP, bears responsibility for a more significant portion of cloud security.
2. Upskilling employees
With a compound annual growth rate of 15.14%, the global cloud computing market is expected to reach $923.46 billion by 2027. In the coming years, the field of cloud will become pervasive, including but not limited to cloud-native software application development, solution architecture across cloud or hybrid platforms, and so on. It is critical for workers to take a long-term perspective and plan for their professional development.
Employees who have been with the company for a while have an advantage over new hires because they are already familiar with its culture, values and procedures. Since most existing IT skills can be easily reused, reskilling is more efficient and cost-effective than hiring, and it can help meet the immediate need for the cloud-centric IT workforce.
Each company must determine what aspects of the cloud it will use, such as operations, software development, network support and infrastructure requirements, and then design training programs for its current staff to accommodate this.
3. Implementing identity and access management
Security measures for identity management and access control consist of the following:
Applying a multi-factor authentication system
Use MFA when a conditional access policy is in place and authentication is controlled by a directory service like LDAP or active directory.
Methods of access control
When utilizing cloud services, it is essential for organizations to manage access to cloud resources with the appropriate level of access. Role-based access control is one method that can be used to control who has access to which parts of the cloud and what they can do with the resources they’ve been granted access to.
Suspicious activity monitoring
Suspicious activity must be quickly identified, isolated and neutralized. Identity monitoring systems must be in place with the ability to immediately send out alerts so that appropriate measures can be taken.
4. Encrypting data in transit and at rest
There is no pressing need to develop a new method for protecting data in the cloud. Cloud data protection is very similar to that of a conventional data center. In the cloud, it is possible to implement data protection strategies such as identity and authentication, encryption, access control, secure deletion, data masking and integrity checking.
The CSP must guarantee the physical safety of all deployed cloud resources. Encryption is essential to safeguard information while it is in transit or at rest. CSP is capable of implementing a wide variety of encryption methods, such as full disk encryption, format preserving encryption, application layer encryption, file encryption and database encryption.
You can protect the contents of data in transit by encrypting it before transferring it to the cloud and/or by using encrypted connections. All that’s needed for organizations to safeguard data while it’s being stored is to encrypt it first.
5. Implementing intrusion prevention and intrusion detection
Intrusion detection systems can be broken down further into host-based and network-based categories depending on their point of origin. The alerts generated by an IDS make it worthwhile to use one.
An IDS can generate both genuine and bogus warnings. Large numbers of signals are produced daily by these IDS. Academic and industry research groups have introduced numerous intrusion datasets to evaluate novel attacks and intrusion detection techniques. There are three main types of these datasets: public, private and network simulation.
Various resources are employed to create public and private intrusion datasets. These datasets are generated with the help of tools that can track down victims, unleash various attacks, capture and pre-process traffic, and keep an eye on traffic patterns.
Most companies’ efforts to secure their on-premises applications and data stores fall short of what can be achieved with cloud services. Businesses need to know what security measures are expected of them when using a particular CSP’s offerings and how to implement them. Potential cloud users worry about the security implications of putting faith in a CSP to handle specific security tasks. Past events have shown that security incidents typically result from users failing to properly use the available security measures.
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