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Securing Your Cloud Infrastructure

Cloud computing enables companies to grow without boundaries. However, growth without a solid controls framework can quickly introduce risk to an environment. Gartner says that “Enterprise attack surfaces are expanding. Risks associated with the use of cyber-physical systems and IoT, open-source code, cloud applications, complex digital supply chains, social media and more have brought organizations’ exposed surfaces outside of a set of controllable assets.” Here we’ll discuss some common cybersecurity issues in cloud computing, show you what to look for in your risk assessment and how to mitigate these items.

Cloud Sprawl

Cloud sprawl is the uncontrolled and unplanned growth of computing resources throughout an environment. Cloud resources are easy to create and delete quickly. Unfortunately, this can lead to confusion about how many resources are being used. It also leads to a lack of visibility into the workloads being deployed in the data center.

Preventing Cloud Sprawl

Companies should review and approve requests to provide resources to prevent cloud sprawl. Another strategy to avoid this issue is to implement cloud management software. 

Cloud management software is often designed to report on a company’s cloud usage and the cost of services across different departments or projects. It also helps with provisioning, billing, and analysis, leading to better decision-making about IT resource utilization. 

Data Exposure in Cloud Computing

The HIPAA Journal estimates that between 70%–80% of organizations surveyed suffered a cloud data breach in the past 18 months (as of June 2020, the date of the report). Data stored in remote locations make it hard for security personnel to monitor and control access to sensitive information. The issue often occurs unintentionally due to poor configuration settings or not enforcing security measures.

Preventing Data Breaches

The first step in preventing a data breach is by having a solid cybersecurity strategy in place. Additionally, companies should:

  1. Restrict access to data
  2. Encrypt all information that is not required for day-to-day operations  
  3. Restrict unauthorized users from accessing services

Shadow IT 

Shadow IT refers to employees outside of IT performing IT functions without authorization. The recent work-from-home trend forced companies to find a way to support their remote workforce. Most turned to cloud solutions. Without adequate protection, employees may knowingly or unknowingly perform unauthorized actions.

Preventing Shadow IT 

Enforce strict policies to prevent employees from accessing applications and systems they don’t have permission to use on their work computers. 

Another cybersecurity strategy to prevent Shadow IT is by monitoring internet activity with network monitoring tools, threat detection software, and identity management solutions.

Cloud Service Provider API Compromise

The most critical API security risks include Broken object level, user, and function-level authorization, excessive data exposure, lack of resources (DDoS), security misconfiguration, and insufficient logging and monitoring.

Preventing API Compromise

When designing an API, it is vital to be aware of the potential threats and vulnerabilities. A few tips for preventing your API from being compromised are below:

  • Implement Strict Authentication and Authorization: Provide strict authentication and authorization between client applications requesting data.
  • Secure Data Transmission: Use HTTPS protocol when transmitting sensitive information over both public and private networks (ensure that SSL/TLS certificates are verified).
  • Implement Rate Limiting: With increased use and popularity, APIs are prime targets for DDoS cyberattacks. Avoid this by placing rate limits on how often your API can be called within a specific time. 
  • Use an API Gateway: API gateways manage API traffic. They authenticate, control, and analyze how APIs are used.

The Exploitation of Multi-Tenancy Environments

Multi-Tenancy allows cloud service providers to get maximum hardware utilization, minimizes the cost of operating and maintaining a data center, and offers greater flexibility in provisioning resources. This convenience can create security risks for companies using these shared environments. Specifically:

  • Lack of Isolation: Lack of data isolation in multi-tenant infrastructure makes it a prime target for cyberattacks by competitors or external sources. These attacks happen due to a lack of authorization controls for shared physical resources.
  • Tenant Workload Interference: If one tenant creates an overload, it could negatively impact the workload performance for other tenants.
  • Compromised Virtualization Layer: If a virtualization layer gets compromised, the other virtual machines on the host are impacted. Thus, a malicious user could change configuration settings on each company’s virtual machine.

Mitigating Multi-Tenancy Security Issues

These risks may lead companies to avoid a multi-tenancy environment. However, there are many ways to avoid these issues. For example:   

  • Protect Connections: Use a VPN client for secure data transmissions.
  • Implement Encryption: Encrypt data in transit and at rest with an encryption key management system. 
  • Enforce Access Control: Implement access control lists (ACLs) on all containers that contain sensitive information. 
  • Perform Audits: Perform regular audits about who is accessing what resources. 

Cloud computing gives companies resources to scale their business quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. Given the benefits, it is no wonder companies are embracing it for their digital transformation strategy. However, companies should consider the security risks involved. That way, they can plan their transition and minimize their chances of a costly security incident. 

Whether you are just starting your cloud journey or are already migrated your business applications and data the cloud,, vTECH io’s security specialists can support your initiatives and guide you on your way to achieving a robust cloud strategy that ensures productivity, reduces cost and help you stay one step ahead of the cyber criminals.

Contact us to learn more.

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