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Defining Cloud Security

Put simply, cloud security encompasses the use of best cybersecurity methods and practices in order to protect cyber-assets that have been deployed on cloud platforms. Investing in cloud security allows organizations to tackle conventional as well as emerging threats that may plague cloud infrastructure.

While cloud platforms can be divided into both public as well as private, in this post we’ll be focusing more on how to secure public cloud platforms. This is like the security of private cloud environments is similar to challenges faced in traditional cyber-security. 

Cloud Computing Security Challenges

It is the responsibility of cloud service providers to protect their hardware infrastructures such as computing, storage, and network resources. On the other hand, it’s the customers who are responsible for the protection of their applications, activity monitoring, and the correct deployment and configuration of their security tools. Known as the Shared Responsibility Model, this requires customers to deal with the following issues:
  • All traditional issues related to cybersecurity, including incident detection, response, vulnerability management, and application security.
  • Emerging challenges related to the cloud, such as limited visibility of cloud security events, frequent infrastructural changes, regular application delivery, and novel threats to cloud-based administrative tools.


Cloud Security Benefits

The practice of cloud security allows businesses to reap the benefits that come with cloud platforms, without putting data and business operations at risk. This provides organizations with enhanced openness, increased flexibility, and scalability, along with continued compliance with regulatory rules.

The following are some of the benefits of cloud security:  

  • The ability to discover vulnerabilities and improper configurations in cloud-based infrastructure
  • Guaranteeing that the software source-code is tested for security at every step of the software development process
  • Keep a watch on cloud platform applications, including systems running on containers and virtual machines
  • Speedily detect advanced attack symptoms, such as network and systemic anomalies and credentials theft
  • Stop cyber-criminals from taking over cloud platforms and using cloud infrastructure for carrying out attacks such as DDoS, botnet hosting and crypto jacking


How To Secure AWS Environments

AWS, or Amazon Web Services, provides an enriched and sophisticated environment for cloud hosting and workload management. However, being a cloud platform makes it vulnerable to the usual threats that commonly plague cloud environments.

So, what are the steps that businesses can take in order to secure workloads that have been hosted on AWS? The following attempts to shed light on some practices which can be utilized for fortifying AWS cloud security.

Using vulnerability management solutions, security teams can assess and discover EC2 instances and scan the same for any possible security violations. This can include improper configurations, policy violations, and related vulnerabilities.

Organizations can also make use of Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) for testing cloud-based web applications. This helps to weed out vulnerabilities in the OWASP Top Ten, probable violations of PCI DSS, and associated regulations.

When integrating a DAST solution with Jenkins, or any similar DevOps tools, security testing needs to be carried out at specific points in the development process. This ensures any anomalies are detected and fixed in the code pre-production phase itself.

Amazon also allows the integration of security and management services with appropriate security information and event management (SIEM) services. This allows access to all system logs such as Amazon Route 53 DNS logs, Virtual Private Cloud flow logs, and also logs created by AWS CloudWatch and CloudTrail’s.

Using a cloud-integrated SIEM solution, the log data obtained from the above sources can be enriched with additional data from cloud platforms such as on-premises systems and endpoints. This can also enable flagging of compromise indicators and fast detection and remediation of threats using advanced analytics. What’s more, data from AWS services such as AWS Guard Duty can be passed directly to a SIEM. This allows security teams to respond and operate faster.


How to Secure Azure Environments 

Azure is a flexible, scalable, and extremely powerful cloud-platform from Microsoft Corporation. Hosting workloads on Azure can make organizational processes smoother and more streamlined. In this section, we are going to discuss how businesses can secure Azure environments. 

Vulnerability management solutions can employ Azure Discovery Connection for identifying and scanning assets such as virtual machines the moment they are deployed in the Azure cloud environment. Such scanning can help to identify latent vulnerabilities, violations in policy, and other security risks. What’s more, it’s also possible to import and use Azure tags for organizing assets into dynamic groups for selective assessment and reporting. 

Further, the Azure DevOps pipeline can be combined with a DAST solution, thus enabling automatic vulnerability scans. This will allow organizations to remove vulnerabilities from the cloud-based application earlier on in the development cycle.

SIEM solutions can also be deployed to obtain real-time log data from Azure Event Hubs, and combine it with log data from other sources. This enables the performance of analyses for uncovering potential attacks, such as phishing and malware attacks.

Alerts on security events are also generated by the Azure Security Center, but it doesn’t provide the benefits of a full-scale SIEM. Nevertheless, Azure Security Center alerts can be directly sent to a SIEM for reaping the complete benefits of the system.

Multi-cloud Environment Security  

When it comes to cloud security, it doesn’t do to just consider security measures for individual cloud platforms. Instead, it’s a matter of collecting, analyzing, and acting upon all the data generated by a business and its associated cloud services.

In the present scenario, multi-cloud and hybrid cloud architectures, along with microservice-apps, are usually distributed over multiple cloud infrastructures and data centers. In the case of expert attacks, the threat factor often begins with endpoint applications and then spreads across the remainder of the cloud environment. 

Keeping all the above reasons in mind, it is vital for businesses to use advanced security systems. These systems must be such that they deliver the right amount of visibility and monitoring over the entire IT infrastructure. And this must include cloud platforms as well as data centers spread across organizational premises.  

Written By: DeshCyber Security Engineer
September 04, 2020

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