Cloud Security: A Task to Accomplish

By CIOReview | Friday, July 15, 2016

A Broad Picture of Cloud Security

As Cloud computing has emerged as a flexible, cost-effective, and proven delivery platform for providing business or consumer IT services over the Internet, it also brings an extra level of security risk of critical data and applications. As security threats are looming, CIOs need to intricately implement security measures to achieve a nigh impregnable data fortress.

Predetermination of infectious breaches is pretty essential to prevent them from infiltrating the system. According to Brian Lillie, CIO at Data Center builder, Equinix [NASDAQ:EQIX], “doling out general advice for bolstering IT security in the cloud computing era is difficult because all organizations are different. But there are guidelines they can follow to take advantage of the lower costs, faster setup, and better user experience cloud systems offer—and maintain solid cyber defense.”

As Cisco CEO John Chambers puts it, “There are only two kinds of companies: Those that were hacked and those that don’t yet know they were hacked.” Incidentally, the famous unprecedented data breaches affected the major companies like Sony and Twitter. Employee salaries and emails were leaked of Sony employees, while 250,000 twitter accounts were hacked without the knowledge of their IT teams. Understandably, the cyber security attacks are amplifying gradually despite the growing sophistication in security, so it’s just a matter of time when the cyber criminals breach into enterprise network.

Despite the number of cyber incidents going up at a gradual pace, the cloud adoption rate is high. According to Gartner, the expected CAGR of software as a service (SaaS) from 2011 to 2016 is 19.5 percent, platform as a service (PaaS) is 27.7 percent infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is 41.3 percent. To meet this growing need, managed service providers (MSPs) are investing in advanced systems to help the cloud expand. Most importantly, small and medium businesses, in particular, are looking to cloud-based security applications for increasing their security posture and mitigating risks.

Recently, a survey revealed that the number of attacks on cloud deployments have increased at an alarming rate of 45 percent on application attacks with 36 percent increase in suspicious activities and 27 percent accounting to brute force attacks. Today, enterprises look out for securing mainly the web applications and data center security and may not be hugely investing on endpoint security. However, enterprises need to orchestrate security strategies with their cloud service providers to minimize the threats. In collaboration with cloud vendors, enterprises must maintain a strong level of trust with customers, partners and employees, and businesses must think of themselves as security companies.

The CIO’s Approach

CIOs have a pretty impeccable job at hand to inculcate prolific security measures inside cloud. CIOs need to be versatile and implement specific technologies in the environment including file integrity monitoring, intrusion detection, encryption, two-factor authentication, and firewalls. They should integrate advanced security architectures into their already robust security operations processes for multisite event correlation, security incident response, and Ediscovery. It’s imperative for CIOs to assess each vendor’s capability to be a secure, dependable, transparent, and reliable partner. CIOs should ensure the cloud architecture to be multi-tenant and the service to have high levels of redundancy built in it; the downtime should be negligible. Also, the relationship between the CIO and the vendor should be built on a foundation of transparent communications, shared values and trust.

Basic Techniques to Ensure Maximum Cloud Security                                

APPLICATION OF SECURITY CONTINUALLY: To implement the process for timely upgrading software security, enterprises need to leverage configuration management tools. In order to keep a continuous check over the security deployment, software need to embrace configuration management tools like, CVS-Concurrent version system, Rational Clear Case, SVN- Subversion, and many more.

DEPLOYMENT OVER EXISTING HARDWARE: The expansion of cloud software should be preferably orchestrated over existing hardware which understands the working of a cloud network. The security should intensify while opening the new pages of the cloud over the existing hardware and should learn to cope up with the cloud network changes. 

SCOPE FOR CHANGE: Hackers leave no stone unturned to breach into software network. The security solution over the cloud should be responsive to new threats and breaches and should be ready for change. As technology is evolving, new threats are following in bulk. So security should be flexible for the change over the period of time so as to tackle with unprecedented new threats.

KEEP A CONTINOUS CHECK: Breaches can occur time to time, as they don’t send a warning disclaimer to alarm beforehand; so in order to keep a check, you need to remove the unauthorized installs, suspicious commands and changes to security. This process has to be repeated every once in a while to process a healthy cloud environment.

PREDETERMINATION OF THREATS: The intrusion Detection system (IDS) is not enough to determine the suspicious working on host or workload. So you need a proper solution to get near to perfect responses from your host and workloads within specific time frames so as to tackle the breach situations.

KEEPING A WATCH ON INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL THREATS: If an occurrence happens, it is imperative to comprehend the terrible infecting elements which can be either inside or outside the enterprise. The duplicity of data, unauthorized logins, abnormal external connections, and data loss all can be listed down as threats to the network. In order to make fact based judgments, you require such a solution which will determine trail of logins, procedures, system movement, and record changes and the culprit behind all.

DETECTING UNUSUAL USER BEHAVIOR: Unintentional data copying and duplicity of data can be detected beforehand. Out of domain logins, missing of data can also be considered dangerous and suspicious. In order to predetermine the infection over cloud, security solutions should be orchestrated to these problems rapidly.

CYBER DEFENSE: Build a cyber cell to ensure maximum security and defense against the threats from inside and outside the enterprise. The predetermination of threats can be incepted from the cyber cell wing and recognition of unauthorized access can be achieved by the same.

Envisaging the Future

Cloud security is an evolving challenge which can only be addressed when your tools and technologies are designed to evolve with it. Various organizations are looking to pitch perfect solutions which are being provided by various vendors but no one ensures a hundred percent blockade of breaches. Enterprises and CIOs need to assess the long haul suitability of any cloud provider. They should have long-term plan of containing and controlling the security of an enterprise. As new threats and breaches are being detected in cloud with each passing day, the cloud solution should be feasible and flexible for change. In simple terms, no security solution will take care of every data protection problem, so it is vital to consider numerous layers of guard. To ensure a better defense, enterprises need to divide their cloud framework into discrete sections and applications to apply the right controls in the right places and control the effect of security breaches.