Security in a multicloud world: Nine steps to ensure you’re safe

As businesses make the shift to cloud computing, more and more of them are distributing tasks and operations across multiple cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). This strategy allows them to access the different services provided by each platform and optimize their operations to work within a platform that suits it best. However, this switch to multicloud architecture creates a complicated environment and infrastructure that poses a unique set of challenges. One of the main issues that this brings up involves addressing the security of a multicloud architecture. When organizations integrate multicloud networks, they increase the vulnerabilities of their infrastructure by offering hackers a wider surface for attack. This places security at the forefront of any multicloud strategy. Misconfigured files on clouds have been exposed to the public multiple times over the past few years, leaving millions of users’ data exposed to bad actors on the Internet. It’s important to address security in a multicloud world to avoid these common errors. Here are nine steps you should take:

1. Explore vendors’ security practices

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make when adopting a multicloud environment is failing to research and truly understand all the aspects of the infrastructure of the cloud platforms offered by the cloud vendors as well as the vendors’ practices for ensuring the security of the platforms. Some of the services that cloud vendors are responsible for providing include encryption software, access management, and multifactor authentication. Where these vendors operate can also determine the degree of security their services offer, especially if these services are based in a single data center hub, making it relatively easy for a cybercriminal to take down the service with a single blow.

2. Explore the cloud platforms’ infrastructure

Your security team needs to be able to gain greater visibility into the environments of the cloud platforms to gain a better understanding of the services being employed. When they have an opportunity to explore the infrastructure and vulnerabilities of the cloud platforms, they will be able to better formulate a plan for mitigating potential breaches in security and establishing protocols for how the software should be handled at the organization’s end to minimize security threats to their data.

3. Ensure that your employees follow security protocol

Perhaps the biggest source of security breaches in organizations involve instances where individuals have access to data and services that they should not be able to view. When unrelated people within an organization are permitted to access sensitive data, they are at risk of exposing the data to cyberattacks and breaches. Organizations need to ensure that any acquired software is patched and secured before rolling it out to employees and that employees are trained to adhere to stringent security protocols to prevent a breach from occurring.

4. Centralize your security strategy

To identify threats across multiple cloud platforms and effectively integrate security strategies that address the needs of each of these platforms, security teams need to centralize security control to maximize data visibility within the multicloud environment. Information about all security measures and tools implemented need to be shared across points of contact responsible for each platform to improve the organization’s security capabilities. Having a uniform protocol for security enforcement ensures a consistent approach to cloud platforms, facilitating the secure integration of a multicloud architecture. Automation using third-party services may help in scaling security.

5. Update your applications

A multicloud architecture cannot be secured by a one-time assessment and deployment of security measures. Organizations need to ensure that the applications they are running on the cloud platforms are constantly hardened and patched with the latest technologies and updates to protect them from attacks. While the cloud vendors are responsible for protecting the platforms, the applications you use are your responsibility to secure, and upgrading them to keep up with innovations in the field will ensure that hackers have difficulties finding security holes in your applications.

6. Evolve your approach to multicloud security

While you ensure that your applications are up to date, it is also important to ensure that your security functions are constantly upgraded to meet the ever-changing landscape of the industry. Cyberattackers are continuously looking for vulnerabilities to exploit and adopting innovative ways to breaching security. Monitoring threats to a multicloud architecture is a continuous process that requires security experts to constantly analyze the security of the multicloud through real-time reports. Integrating these practices across cloud platforms and collaborating with other security experts on steps undertaken can help automate security enforcement.

7. Secure communications that run your applications

Even if you secure the communications between applications in the multicloud and within the applications themselves, many organizations neglect to secure the communications that control how the applications are run. This is known as the control plane, and a good multicloud security strategy takes into consideration the need to encrypt communications that fall within the domain of the control plane. Security teams need to ensure that communications that control virtual machines and containers are encrypted as well as the auditing and logging tools within applications. Often, these communications within the control plane are left unsecured, allowing malicious entities to exploit these weak spots and orchestrate a serious security breach.

8. Keep track of data in use

Another potential threat to the security of a multicloud architecture involves data in use. There are plenty of measures in place to protect data when it is being stored and transmitted across networks. However, the way sensitive data is often used and processed can put it at risk of being accessed by malicious actors. Confidential computing is a term that refers to the protection of sensitive data from security threats when it is in use. Organizations need to determine how they secure data that leaves their networks as well as sensitive data that is moved between clouds. While this is a growing field, security teams need to ensure that they keep abreast of developments in confidential computing to ensure comprehensive solutions to multicloud security.

9. Place security at the forefront of a shift to multicloud

It has been said before, but it needs to be reiterated: Any shift to multicloud needs to ensure that security is given a high priority in the planning and execution. When designing a multicloud architecture for your organization, it’s important to involve security in all aspects of the plan to ensure that no areas are left uncovered. It’s better to plan for multicloud security than to wait for an incident to occur before plugging breaches. Since this is a complex infrastructure you’ll be dealing with, it is important to address the complexity of the security issues it entails by applying and integrating a variety of tools that target the different security needs of a multicloud system.

Multicloud security: Constant vigilance is key

It’s important to remember even as you plan and execute a successful multicloud integration that constant vigilance is key to multicloud security. By ensuring that there are protocols in place to constantly monitor the multicloud, you will realize that luck has little to do with finding yourself at the receiving end of a serious security breach.

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