Securing the cloud: The future of enterprise security

Gartner states that almost two-thirds (65.9%) of spending on application software will be directed toward cloud technologies by 2025, up from 57.7% in 2022. In the last few years, cloud computing has become a crucial component of an enterprise IT strategy. The many benefits of migrating to the cloud include improved cost efficiency, higher flexibility, the ability to scale seamlessly and a more agile approach to software development to name a few. However, security has often been overlooked during this move to the cloud. In fact, CrowdStrike’s 2022 Global Threat Report highlighted how enterprise risk is consolidating around three critical areas: endpoints and cloud workloads, identity, and data.

Increasing threats to cloud environments

Many business processes rely on cloud providers to operate and deliver services to their customers. However, these same cloud providers are increasingly targeted by threat actors, a trend that is growing given the increase in the attack surface as a result of greater cloud adoption. Today, while some threats continue to target the traditional organisational endpoint surface, others target cloud providers and their services in an attempt to abuse the provider/trust relationship and ultimately gain access to the organisation via lateral movements.

Given this, security should be one of the main areas of focus for organisations looking to fully embrace the cloud journey but often, security has been secondary to business transformation. But as organisations move more applications, workloads and other areas of their business into the cloud, security needs to be front of mind. Some of the most common cloud security challenges include limited visibility of the entire cloud or multi-cloud environments, failure to secure workloads, failure to timely identify cloud misconfigurations, unsecured APIs and unauthorised access, as well as the ability to remediate such exposures. These challenges are compounded by the constant struggle to find and attract a knowledgeable security workforce.

That’s a lot for organisations to think about and just one weakness in any of these areas can enable an attacker to start gaining access into the cloud environment.

Importance of cloud security

Cloud security is the technology, policies, services and security controls designed to safeguard the data, applications and environments in the cloud. It provides appropriate levels of prevention, detection and response capabilities to ensure an organisation is able to timely detect and stop a breach. As businesses have begun to rely more and more on the cloud, it’s increasingly vital to properly configure cloud deployments with security as a top-of-mind priority.

Enterprises today need to consider the cloud as a security practice. It’s all too familiar to see security of cloud environments handled by non-security people and that needs to change given the importance of cloud to the organisation. And while security teams should be increasing their attention in securing cloud environments, there is an opportunity for security to be seen as a shared responsibility. Technology should facilitate this cross-collaboration and this is why it is important for modern cloud security solutions to integrate with the DevOps and Cloud teams.

A server today is the workload of tomorrow and cloud is the next environment that organisations need to focus on protecting.

Best practices for cloud security and building a better defence

In a threat landscape that is ever-changing and increasingly varied, embracing a holistic approach to cloud security is the only effective way to safeguard assets. The cloud is constantly evolving, but a handful of security best practices have emerged for ensuring the security of cloud environments. These include understanding the shared responsibility model, training staff and securing the cloud pre-runtime, at run-time and the control plane (the part of a network that controls how data is forwarded). This is about ensuring adequate security capabilities exist by adopting Cloud Workload, Container Protection and Cloud Security Posture Management solutions.

To successfully prevent breaches, organisations must have unified visibility and security protection of the entire cloud environments, across all workloads and containers, so they are better equipped to:
● Monitor and record activity,
● Discover workloads and containers,
● Protect pre-runtime and run-time,
● Identify cloud environment misconfiguration in a timely manner, and
● Ensure a continuous approach to cloud threat detection and cloud threat hunting.
By approaching the cloud journey with security in mind, organisations will be able to accelerate their cloud migration, meet the dynamic nature of cloud computing and reduce the alert fatigue as well as improve their security team productivity.