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Cloud Services / Security

Simplify Multicloud Security in 5 Steps

Given the complexity of cloud technology, here are tactics we think organizations should implement to better protect themselves across multiple clouds.
Nov 2nd, 2022 10:16am by
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Many organizations have recently addressed the question of whether they should use a public cloud, their own private cloud or a combination of the two. There are many good reasons to use a private cloud environment, but when your loads require significant compute resources, it might be better to use a public cloud. You can also employ a configuration method known as cloud bursting, where your workload “bursts” over to external cloud services when your on-prem infrastructure reaches its capacity limit. However, the reason most organizations choose to use a private cloud in the first place is that they worry that adding a public cloud into the picture could jeopardize their security posture.

We believe there is a way to address these concerns. In this article, we will explain how you can simplify multicloud security and some tools that will help you secure your multicloud environment.

Hybrid and Multicloud Environments

There are a few things organizations need to know before they decide whether to use a hybrid or multicloud environment. For example, you’ll want to consider specific features, how cost-effective the setup will be for your organization and if you’re willing to be dependent on a single cloud provider.

Before we take a deep dive into the security of multicloud infrastructure, let’s define what the terms “hybrid” and “multicloud mean in this context.

Hybrid Cloud

An organization that uses a private cloud, as well as one public cloud, is considered to have a hybrid cloud environment. For example, a private cloud is typically an on-premises data center, while a public cloud is usually a set of compute and networking resources operated by a third-party vendor.

Multicloud

A hybrid cloud environment that uses two or more public cloud platforms or providers is called a multicloud environment. There are several reasons an organization might decide to use two (or more) public cloud providers. For example, one provider might have particular expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), while the other uses cloud functions or has particular features that the organization needs.

Multicloud Security

Since it involves public cloud providers, using a multicloud environment forces organizations to think about security. Given the complexity of cloud technology, organizations should implement security guardrails to secure their infrastructure.

There are five steps that we think organizations should implement to improve their multicloud security posture:

1. Know Who’s Responsible for What

Organizations that use a private cloud know that they are 100% responsible for their environment’s security, from patching the OS infrastructure to setting up and configuring identity and access management (IAM), role-based access control (RBAC), network policies and more.

When using a public cloud, on the other hand, the organization and the public cloud provider share responsibility for securing the environment. It’s essential that everyone knows which aspects of security are the organization’s responsibility, and which responsibilities fall to the public cloud vendor.

2. Adapt as Early as Possible

Regardless of whether you’re working in a private or public cloud environment, security is absolutely critical. In fact, security must become an integral part of your software development life cycle (SDLC) workflow, and it should be adapted as early as possible.

Integrating “shift left” security into your CI/CD workflow will enable you to scan your container images for misconfigurations, malware, IAM risks, lateral movement risks and sensitive data exposures.

3. Leverage Infrastructure as Code (IaC)

The initial work of configuring cloud infrastructure can be daunting. Sometimes, going directly to console or accessing the control plane via SSH to add, delete and/or modify IAM, RBAC, and other policies can be the way to go. But that’s not a reliable solution for the long term. Infrastructure changes — such as updating IAM, network policies, and software — based on common vulnerabilities (CVEs) should be part of your code repository.

The workflow associated with adding infrastructure changes to the code repository is called Infrastructure as Code (IaC). IaC is important because it ensures idempotence — and that changes are consistent, repeatable and fast.

4. Automate Everything, if Possible

As cloud technology expands, so does the opportunity for automation. For example, network policies and CVEs are frequently updated, and new patches are often released for software and operating systems. In addition, organizations hire new employees who need access to certain information and/or data, while the access rights of employees who leave their team and/or organization must be restricted or completely terminated.

All of these examples are perfect candidates for automation. In combination with Infrastructure as Code, automation can be key to successfully securing your multicloud environment.

5. Be Proactive through Visibility and Monitoring

Certain information should be easily visible to those who need it, such as whether your security policy is up to date, if specific data can only be accessed from your private cloud, or if your ingress only allows a certain port number.

This is where monitoring comes in. Monitoring gives you visibility into your security policy, and it allows you to add, delete or change your policy so that it’s current and up to date with new security threats.

Take Control of Your Multicloud Security

Regardless of whether you work in a private, public, hybrid or multicloud environment, security is essential to your organization’s cloud infrastructure. Simple things like cloud misconfigurations, overly permissive RBAC or IAM policies, and inadequately protected data can make you vulnerable to attacks.

Check out Orca Security’s Cloud Risk Encyclopedia (CRE), a public resource featuring cloud security and compliance risks and remediation strategies pulled directly from Orca’s cloud security platform, to learn more about securing your cloud infrastructure.

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