For any enterprise, the transition from on-premises technology to cloud computing is a milestone. Thankfully, in the past few years, there has been increased focus on managing these transitions with due diligence and care of security aspects.
However, considering the complexity of modern cloud ecosystems for enterprises, the security challenges are nothing like what they used to be.
The new-age cloud comprises multiple SaaS vendors, mixes of on-premises and cloud-based applications, hybrid cloud environments with division of workloads on public and private clouds, and several contracts with several vendors. The new-age cloud, of course, brings new-age cloud security challenges. We’ll cover the most critical of these in this guide.
New-age cloud security challenges brought by IoT
Heard of IoT? Of course you have. Well, guess what, it’s being called the next equivalent of Industrial Revolution. Reports from leading consultancies vary wildly in their estimates, but it’s safe to assume that there will be at least 15 billion connected devices by 2021. Hopefully no one hacks our microwaves! We do not want our slice of pumpkin pie or popcorn to be overcooked! That would be no good!
Now, take a moment, and imagine the cloud interactions of these IoT devices. From sensors creating several megabytes of data every second and feeding it to cloud-based analytics engines, to machine learning platforms creating smart algorithms on the cloud — the scope of IoT and cloud’s collaboration is massive.
The big question, however is — are cloud platforms secure enough to host this next generation leap that IoT plans to bring? A Gartner report highlighted that 31 percent of surveyed IT executives said that concerns around data security caused delays in IoT adoption. Issues such as lack of standard practices, security gaps in IoT device software, inadequate patching, and interlinked IT will keep cloud security personnel busy for the next few years.
Securing serverless processes
Serverless processes are building up in the cloud. The security ramifications of these developments are many. Of course, there are benefits, but cloud security experts are more focused on the security challenges that these microservices bring. Virtual machines are considered the basic building blocks of the modern cloud.
However, increasingly, event-driven codes, containers, and serverless capabilities are proving much easier for developers to develop new codes. Very soon, the proliferation of the microservices model will magnify the chinks in the armor, and force security personnel to pay due attention to plugging cloud security gaps in these processes.
Large enterprises with in-house IT are witnessing the emergence of DIY cloud security, and DevSecOps teams. Enterprises are working on creating secure PaaS stacks that act as intermediaries between their applications and public IaaS solutions. This helps enterprises retain control of their systems while helping them leverage the core benefits of the cloud.
Considering how these practices have yielded business value for organizations, it’s safe to assume that there will be continuous action and buzz in this sphere. Correspondingly, in-house IT as well as cloud security specialists will need to provide consistent and improved controls that help enterprises with control and visibility at the PaaS level.
Combatting ransomware and preparing for IoT
Hackers around the globe are devoted to nefarious ransomware attack designs, targeting cloud datacenters in particular, considering the massive payoffs. Because so many enterprises have their sensitive and vital information stored on public clouds, and have their business-critical applications operating from cloud datacenters, ransomware is among the biggest disruptions that cloud security personnel have to tackle.
Cybercriminals have perfected their techniques, and consequently, ransomware attacks are the biggest concern among advanced persistent threats facing the cloud computing ecosystem. IoT creates another dimension of risk. Smart devices are exchanging data with vendors, manufacturers, sales channel partners, product designers, and software components like analytics engines.
The attack surface area created, hence, is huge, with enterprises having less control over security aspects than they’d ideally want. As of now, developers are just beginning to devise effective means of patching and upgrading systems. Exposed APIs, Big Data integrations, user errors — all issues get inflated because of IoT. Kind of like a banana split gets so much better because of caramel, but this is another subject!
Shadow IT’s accountability
Shadow IT is a reality facing many enterprises. Overlooking it is equivalent to turning a blind eye to severe security gaps. As cloud security becomes more complex, strong measures to manage shadow IT components is of core essence.
In 2016, a VMware survey documented the consequences of shadow IT, with 59 percent of respondents saying it caused increased stress on IT personnel and 73 percent said that it created difficulties in preventing cyberattacks.
As the lines between work and home blur, enterprises will face increased proliferation of shadow IT, which will connect with the organization’s cloud ecosystem. To begin to manage this challenge, IT leaders need to drive mechanisms of stock taking, replacement of shadow IT tools with more secure tools, and nurturing a culture of process-oriented and IT-led adoption of minimalist shadow IT.
Challenges in cloud security workflow automation
Cloud system security issues such as access management, user privileges, etc. kept IT personnel busy in the early days of cloud adoption. Slowly, self-help portals arrived and enabled end users to help themselves. However, with the increasing complexity of the cloud, the end user’s rule in managing access and identity related troubleshooting has been minimized.
Burgeoning cloud complexities in organizations that are already short staffed mean that automation in security workflow will become highly critical in the times to come. Amazon machine learning, for instance, uses data and routine behaviors to predict the required security provisions for your cloud applications. Such machine learning-powered security automations for cloud will help realize the next gen of security workflow in enterprises.
Static firewalls are no longer potent enough to keep cyberattacks at bay. Developers are increasingly being expected to deploy security means that learn from user and application data, and prevent bad actors from creating vulnerabilities.
The average enterprise is rollicking on in its cloud transformation journey. Now is the time to lay equal impetus on meeting the new-age cloud security challenges of the new-age cloud.
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