How to Mitigate Cloud Security Risks
by Nikki Gannon, on Dec 12, 2019 2:00:00 PM
Hybrid cloud security is increasingly important to companies looking to get the benefits of both self-hosted and third-party-enabled infrastructure. The need to migrate information during the transition—as well as the ongoing need to manage the flow of information—creates many chances for something to go wrong, allowing a security breach. Simply put, it is complicated to manage security across a complex hybrid system.
It is, therefore, important for companies to have a cloud security plan in place. Below, we outline the major things companies must keep in mind to mitigate cloud security risks.
Data Compliance and Protection Requirements
Data can travel between highly secure private and less-secure public and cloud networks, which can threaten data and compliance. Those who use the cloud must stay in compliance with laws of different jurisdictions.
Security regulations such as GDPR have increased security monitoring and harmonized data flows. Federal data also play a significant role in data compliance and regulations. The right CI/CD tools mitigate security risks and help you maintain constant compliance. For example, WebMD uses BuildMaster to maintain its HITRUST certification, staying in constant compliance.
Effective cross-platform management requires that all of your tools work in tandem. Teams also need to make sure that the proper security protocols are put in place to avoid the corruption or destruction of data.
Cloud Application Migration Tools
Implementing the best strategies and tools is critical for effective cross-platform management. Some strategies include:
- Rehosting: Known as “lift and shift,” this is where teams scale their migration and rehost them. Some teams will also use cloud-native capabilities to gravitate towards a new development method. Applications that are already in the cloud are also easier to optimize and re-architect.
- Replatforming: This is where organizations may look to migrate to a database-as-a-service platform in order to save time spent managing database instances. Some teams may fully migrate to a fully managed platform if necessary.
- Repurchasing: This entails moving to a different product that can better satisfy business needs.
- Refactoring/re-architecting: Usually driven by a business need to add features, this is where teams will re-imagine how the application will be developed.
- Retire: Once all environmental components are discovered, teams will determine what is/isn’t useful. Anything that is not useful is eliminated to save time and money.
- Retain: This is where you do nothing with an application. You can revisit to assess at a later time, but perhaps there are other high-priority applications and migrate what makes more sense to the business.
Public clouds are accessible via the web, available to the public, and can be used in a free or pay-per-use capacity. However, when using a public cloud, it’s important to know that access can be granted from anywhere, leaving your data susceptible to vulnerabilities. Another concern is jurisdictional issues, especially regarding international concerns.
Cloud Automation Tools
Automation has a variety of meanings to different technology professions and is considered a "loaded" term. However, automation is generally accepted to help keep data secure.
Automation does not mean "automatic." Rather, it is a hybrid process that consists of tools that automate with control, implement change planning, perform risk assessment, undertake compliance testing, and use rules cleanup and maintenance. It’s important for teams that find the right cloud automation tools for all of these tasks to ease their processes.
Data Redundancy and Disaster Recovery (Roll-backs)
Hosting applications in the cloud is appealing to a lot of IT organizations for scaling, buying power, better data centers, backup power sources, and other capabilities. However, having applications hosted through cloud providers comes with implementing a disaster recovery plan and limiting data redundancy. There are five key steps to help you protect your data and avoid risk.
1. Assessing risks: There are three types of disaster risks: site disaster, area disaster, and regional disaster. Properly managing data centers, their design, and selecting a proper location can help you assess and minimize risk.
2. Determining requirements: Once risk assessment is completed, recovery requirements need to be determined for hosted applications. These requirements are typically developed in the context of:
- Recovery Point Objective (RPO): This is the point at which the time that passes during a disruption can pass before it exceeds the business’s tolerance threshold.
- Recovery Time Objective (RTO): This is the tolerable time for teams to restore their processes after a disaster to avoid any consequences.
4. Auditing cloud providers: Cloud providers should provide users with documentation about their data centers so managers can compare against their list of requirements. It is also recommended that organizations understand the data protection solutions available. Some elements that should be included in an audit for cloud providers include:
- Possible events
- Power grid/communications considerations and contingencies
- Proximity to potential terrorist targets
- Relationship to recovery destinations
- Data center hardening features
- Vendor's disaster recovery contingencies
BuildMaster’s rollback functionality utilizes a “re-deploy,” which is used to restore an application to a previously successful version in response to problems. Some back-up strategies that can be used include having a back-up folder with zip contents of a target project or deploy to a target directory and swap directory names. Another option is to deploy straight from a BuildMaster artifact in which a zip backup would be kept automatically.
Managing Permissions and Access
It’s important to establish and follow best practices when it comes to granting permission and access. As the saying goes, "Too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the sauce." Having too many hands on secure data risks security breaches and mistakes related to permissions and access by using an automation. Some components that should be included in Identity and Access Management include:
- Having role-based permissions rather than individual users
- Access should be minimal and only enough for each person to do their job
- Use multi-factor authentication to increase security measures
- Enforce password policies that utilize strong passwords, password expiration, and rotating IAM access keys
Migrating to the Cloud Requires Risk Mitigation
Digital trends have been leaning toward cloud adoption, which in turn makes the cloud an essential part of every organization. However, hybrid cloud security is dependent on identifying critical challenges and analyzing and addressing how those challenges will be faced.
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