Designing a Zero-Trust Environment for Cloud Native
While cloud computing is a powerful technology, it does come with its own unique set of data security challenges. Let's take a look!
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Cloud computing is a mature and powerful technology leveraged by companies operating in every market. And, it is a cost-effective way to manage infrastructure, applications, and services that deliver tangible benefits.
However, as powerful as cloud computing is as a technology, it does come with its own unique set of data security challenges. Concerned security practitioners frequently talk about is the zero-trust implementation for a cloud-native environment. Below, we address some of the security practices one must consider when designing a zero-trust environment for cloud native.
End-to-End Data Encryption
End-to-end encryption is a very powerful weapon in the data security armory. As the name suggests, all data between two specific points is completely encrypted during transport.
This could be an online transaction being sent from a web browser, email in transit, company data being backed up to a remote location, etc. Indeed, when done right, end-to-end encryption is as entirely transparent as always-on technology.
Monitoring Multiple Layers of Security
From a security perspective, we can define any cloud service as being made up of seven completely separate layers. These are facility, network, hardware, OS, middleware, application, and user.
Any robust security cloud security program must monitor each individual layer. Risks need to be identified and processes put in place to mitigate any vulnerabilities that are exposed within any layer.
In 2015, McAfee published its State of Cloud Adoption study which showed that 9 out of 10 IT security professionals were worried about cloud security.
Adopting a full multi-layered approach to monitoring and managing cloud security is a crucial component in keeping cloud data secure.
Threat Response and Risk Mitigation
Being prepared for a potential data breach is a position that every cloud adopter needs to reach. In order to achieve this, business processes need to be developed to identify risks, respond to risks that have occurred, and mitigate the negative consequences of these risks.
This is a two-way communication between the client and the cloud service vendor. Specific responsibilities need to be defined for both parties, and firm procedures need to be drawn up so that it will be followed in the event of specific risks becoming actual vulnerabilities.
Better Due Diligence
Before any contract for the provision of cloud services is entered into with a vendor, the business needs to ensure that adequate due diligence is done.
It is important to consider that this is not simply an outward facing exercise to evaluate a potential cloud vendor. It is also an inward facing exercise to make sure that the business itself has the skills, resources, and abilities to manage the cloud deployment.
Key responsibilities will need to be defined, with the cloud vendor being required to clearly state facts such as uptime guarantee, provide a statement of compliance, and demonstrate a robust disaster recovery plan.
Only once all aspects of the cloud adoption have been considered should the business move forward to an actual deployment.
Improved Employee Education via a Risk-Aware Corporate Culture
Consider the facts below for a moment:
- 16 percent of employees tend to lack sufficient technical skills to stop them being a security risk to their employer.
- 72 percent of employees only have marginal technical skills, insufficient to ensure that they always act in the best way possible to maintain data security.
- Only 12 percent of employees have a high enough skill level to fully protect themselves and their employer from cyber threats.
The picture these facts paint is that, in general, employees simply do not know how to take the most basic steps to ensure that company data is kept secure at all times. This situation is exacerbated by cloud computing, with company data being stored remotely and transmitted across a public network connection.
Because of this, any security initiate related to cloud computing and its usage needs to contain a human aspect. There is a need to not only educate users on how to perform their jobs more securely but also take to heart the seriousness of data security at a cultural level.
Manage Third Party Compliance
There is a danger that a business relies too heavily on the compliance status of its cloud vendor. 51 percent of U.S. based companies take a certificate of compliance supplied by their cloud services vendor as sufficient proof of compliance.
Of course, in reality, something as worthless as a piece of paper can in no way fully guarantee that a cloud vendor is 100 percent compliant with data privacy and security legislation.
As a client of a cloud services vendor, the business has to take responsibility for monitoring and managing the compliance of the vendor. Failure to do so can lead to a situation where the company is actually operating in a non-compliant way, due to no fault of its own, with the cloud vendor being the actual problem.
Implement Secure Policies and Governance
All of the security considerations outlined above need to be taken control of by the business. Simply relying on a cloud vendor to be the only line of defense in securing company data is not enough.
Security policies need to be put in place and then governed by the business. Constant monitoring and measuring of security issues need to become part of the day-to-day operation of the company.
Key security practices that need to be adopted include:
- Ensuring that employees are risk-aware and educated
- Designing security into applications from the ground up
- Intelligently operating security processes for rapid threat response
- Ensuring that social and mobile collaboration is secure
- Operating a hygienic IT footprint
- Ensuring that internal networks are resilient and secure
- Collaborating with cloud vendors to ensure secure virtualization
- Taking responsibility for managing third-party compliance
- Committing fully to the best practices associated with data security and privacy
Only by implementing such a well-rounded strategy for monitoring, managing, and mitigating security risks can an enterprise be deemed to be doing all it can to keep data secure at all times.
Cloud computing comes with its own unique data security challenges. Many of these are overcome quite simply. Others are more complex and take some effort to solve.
However, it is the recognition of potential threats, and the preparation of threat responses to be deployed when a vulnerability is found, which empowers an enterprise to deal with cloud security requirements as they emerge.
The major takeaway from the information above is that only by understanding the security issues faced by adopters of cloud technology can a business arm itself to deal with any security issue that may arise.
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