How should businesses deal with multi-cloud security challenges?
With the evolution of cloud technology, companies are increasingly using multiple cloud vendors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and many more. At times, the usage of different cloud-based SaaS products from different vendors also brings multi-cloud into play for an organization. Built on a cloud-first, and open-source platform, multi-cloud services are now rapidly emerging as a key enabler for businesses as they facilitate single window usage and management of applications and workloads across different public or private clouds. The growing popularity of multi-cloud is fuelled by various functional benefits that it offers to organizations using futuristic cloud-based applications and websites. These include:
Flexibility – In a multi-cloud setup, a company can use the services of different cloud providers to suit different use cases and a combination of factors such as pricing, performance, security and compliance needs, location of the servers, and so on. For instance, an MNC might run some of its US-focused cloud workloads on a vendor that has servers located in the US to reduce latency and store its Indian customers’ data on cloud servers located within the country to comply with regulations.
Adaptability – In the past, customers used to be restricted to using the services or features offered by their specific vendor only. Multi-cloud has eliminated this problem by providing full freedom of choice to leverage the best solutions.
Reduced business downtime – Since multiple cloud vendors are deployed, outage or unplanned downtime with one vendor is unlikely to halt overall operations. Some companies build redundancy by hosting backup applications with a different cloud service provider. This is a far better arrangement than having only one CSP.
Reduced risk of security or other issues caused by shadow IT – When you use multi-cloud, you are at a lower risk of facing business disruption due to cybercriminals breaking into a CSP’s network. Further, there is a greater scope to offer different services by using functionalities that a single CSP couldn’t have provided.
Multi-cloud Security Risks and how to mitigate them
While multi-cloud is a game-changing development, it is not entirely risk-free. With the evolution of technology, cybercriminals are also becoming more potent and capable of hurting your business financially or affecting its reputation. Therefore, as a responsible organization, you must be aware of prevalent cloud security risks and ways to mitigate them. Let’s take a look at the biggest risks and tips to prevent them:
Unauthorized access to data – Lack of proper access control mechanisms or misuse of employee credentials can often leave organizations vulnerable. Cybercriminals might get entry into the systems and steal crucial enterprise data, user data, and operational information.
How to prevent it – Using the right firewalls for the web applications and sensitizing employees, vendors, and partners to be extremely attentive to their credentials as well as security tools that only provide role-defined access to data can prevent data from being accessed by the wrong people. Companies also need to deploy monitoring tools that come as SaaS products to track and identify any unauthorized changes or suspicious activity across their cloud surfaces.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks – These are among the oldest and most damaging forms of cyberattacks. Through DDoS attacks, hackers overwhelm the servers by flooding them with a large number of malicious connection requests that exceed the bandwidth and cause a denial of service to legitimate users.
How to prevent it – You need to have redundant bandwidth that is usually much higher than the volumes of traffic received by the cloud application or website. This will make it more difficult for the hackers to overwhelm the network. Further, advanced web application scanning tools, preferably with AI integration can help in finding and fixing security issues.
Configuration errors – Enterprises migrating to the cloud often face misconfiguration issues. These are not only operational challenges but also security risks. These errors lead to poor management of permission controls and access restrictions or inactive data encryption. Hackers exploit these risks which remain unattended due to a lack of awareness or visibility and cause damage to the businesses. The addition of third-party plug-ins without adequate care can also cause configuration errors and result in security risks.
How to prevent these errors – Keep a detailed record of all the services, applications, and different vendor settings as well as the features of different cloud providers whether it is the security setting of the services or access controls etc. You must also regularly undertake audits of all apps and cloud assets. The best option would be to use automated scanners that can identify misconfigurations and let your IT teams solve those regularly.
Data leaks and breaches – Data leaks and breaches are probably the biggest risks for modern businesses. These can be caused inadvertently by a lack of awareness or attentiveness and deliberate malicious activities. In today’s time when employees are using a greater diversity of devices including personal gadgets for work, such risks have increased significantly. In the shared multi-cloud environment, these risks can give an opening to hackers to steal data and cause financial and reputation damage to organizations.
How to prevent leaks – All sensitive data related to customers or business intelligence, and financial data, must be stored on the cloud only after due encryption. Frequent password changes and the implementation of limited role-based access to data can reduce these risks.
Poor APIs – With cloud operations, multiple API integrations are becoming a common practice, but if the APIs are not robust in terms of security, they can be a major risk. In fact, according to Gartner, APIs will be the single biggest cause of cyberattacks in the near future.
How to secure your APIs – The APIs should be designed for security, right from the scratch. Tokens, signatures, encryption, API gateways etc should be designed to ensure adequate security. Web-based application security tools should be used to continuously monitor the APIs and raise alerts if anything unusual is noticed.
Irrespective of your company’s size and IT resources, it is not always possible to maintain proactive multi-cloud security especially if cybersecurity is not your core business. That’s where using the services of a world-class SaaS provider with comprehensive and automated cybersecurity solutions is essential for hassle-free and safe multi-cloud operations.