A company’s network used to be contained within physical walls. Employees simply went into the office, logged on to a computer that kept information on a local server stored in the server room, and put in a day’s work. At the day’s end, they signed off, shut down the computer, and locked the door on the way out. Security was as simple as that.
Nowadays, with cloud technologies housing company data and operations, the idea of the physical office as a perimeter is now void. Furthermore, many modern employees have the option to conduct business from wherever they please — a coffee shop, hotel lobby, airport or basically wherever else they find a Wi-Fi signal. While cloud adoption offers a host of efficiencies, it also presents a shifting security landscape. The flux of a modern ‘network perimeter’ means continually changing and exposing attack surfaces, with the risk of potentially compromising a businesses’ data and intellectual property.
The answer to this issue relies on a movable form of security that exists wherever you opt to do business. And this means changing the way you secure cloud applications. As the cloud has matured, so have many solutions. Let’s look a little deeper at the evolving security landscape and several ways you can secure your cloud apps without sacrificing the efficiencies offered by the cloud.
Understanding the Cloud’s Threat Landscape
Before jumping into the solutions, we need to understand the threat landscape as it exists now. Currently, threats are defined by prevalent risks: data leakage, hackers, insider threats and responsibility gaps.
Data leakage is the biggest problem and the top issue when it comes to security in the cloud. Just think of the massive amounts of confidential data exposed in incidents such as the data leaks from Yahoo!, Verizon and various government offices. And while this sort of data leakage often comes from external attacks, insider threats can also be at fault, whether intentional or accidental. Perhaps, a disgruntled employee is using cloud applications to share confidential intellectual property with competitors, or an uneducated employee is accidentally using insecure sharing permissions. By the same count, that same employee may assume that a cloud service has security protocols that are not actually available, offering avenues for a potential breach.
Whatever the cause, the onus is on the company to provide its own security in the cloud, rather than trusting employees, providers or partners. Here are four ways you can ensure that your cloud applications are secure and your confidential data won’t find its way out:
1. Terrain Visibility
Visibility is the essential element of any cybersecurity solution, especially in today’s world of hybrid networks and mobile workers. Because attack surfaces change throughout the day, often minute to minute based on applications in use, you need security that provides visibility into this state of constant motion. A security package that watches all areas of your cyberterrain is essential.
2. Logging Structure
While visibility is good, it can be useless if that data disappears the moment after it appears. Therefore, it is essential that your security efforts employ rigorous logging methods, so that data concerning network usage, data flow, user permissions, and any number of factors are recorded for later analysis and examination.
Further expanding on the previous two points, traffic monitoring can be an invaluable tool in securing cloud applications. By monitoring the flow of network traffic, sophisticated security tools can offer deeper insights into potential threats. Breach detection, for example, can identify anomalous behaviors that might otherwise go unnoticed by the human eye. Similarly, traffic monitoring can more quickly alert you to data exfiltration for hackers snooping around in your network before making off with your data.
4. Endpoint Security
Another way to secure your data when the perimeter is constantly fluctuating is to focus on endpoint security. Endpoint security works by enforcing compliance to a certain level of standards, whether forcing remote employees to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or using Identity Access Management (IAM) software to validate external use.