Did you know that in August of 2021, Microsoft encountered one of the biggest Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks in history? The attack had an intensity of 2.4Tbps and targeted its Azure services for a European customer. Few attacks on cloud vendors have reached this scale before, but no one is taking any bets that more big attacks won’t follow. The bottom line is that enterprise cloud infrastructure is becoming a core target for cyber threats. In this blog, let's explore best practices in enterprise security during cloud adoption/expansion and questions you should ask potential cloud vendors.
The Rise in Cyber Threats
The increasing number of big-ticket consumer applications and digital ecosystems being built on the cloud by enterprises globally offer too much surface area for malicious elements to resist targeting.
DDoS is just one of the major cloud attack vectors being leveraged by fraudsters to gain illegal entry into cloud business systems and, ultimately, to steal sensitive customer data. From email malware to brute force attacks, zero-day and ransomware, the list of threats is increasing daily. For example, in July of 2021, Kaseya, a leading unified remote monitoring and network perimeter security provider, faced a massive supply chain ransomware attack. The cybercriminals attempted to take control of Kaseya services from customers via partners who provided managed services with Kaseya’s SaaS offerings. The incident affected customers in over 10 countries and forced Kaseya to come up with a slew of rectification and prevention measures to eliminate future occurrences.
In most cases, the threats become a security and branding nightmare due to careless behaviors or lack of oversight from enterprise IT. Even with today’s escalating cyberthreats, many enterprise systems, processes, and people fail to incorporate meaningful measures to manage vulnerable components like high-risk software, unencrypted channels for data exchange, third-party security gaps, apps with incomplete or misconfigurations, etc.
Addressing the need for resilience
As more people continue to work remotely post pandemic, it is important for businesses to fortify their digital ecosystems and make them stronger and more resilient than ever. However, these challenges on the security front shouldn’t deter or change your decision to expand your enterprise digital infrastructure on the cloud. In fact, the business benefits dwarf the negatives as evidenced by Gartner’s prediction that enterprises will spend more than USD 1.3 trillion on cloud computing in 2022 alone. And digital transformation remains a key driver of IT investments with 63% of leading orgs reporting increased funding.
The best way to achieve digital transformation success on the cloud is to ensure that your business follows the relevant best practices and addresses valid security concerns when adopting the cloud or expanding your cloud profile, and on a continuing basis thereafter.
5 Enterprise Cloud Security Best Practices
Let's dive into some of the enterprise security best practices to be considered during cloud adoption/expansion:
1. Follow Zero Trust Model
Irrespective of whether the enterprise infrastructure is on the cloud or a local or hybrid environment, a Zero Trust model provides a robust security framework. It requires that every system user, whether internal or external, is validated against pre-defined security clearance credentials before access is granted. This prevents unauthorized entry into critical business systems, a major cause of security concerns for enterprises of every type and size. Cloud customers should ask potential or existing cloud service providers to ensure proven standards such as NIST 800-207 are implemented in their cloud-first digital ecosystems. Having these protections in place builds trust in your organization’s ability to provide seamless work experiences from anywhere, while ensuring that your digital assets are safeguarded at all times.
2. Ensure Due Security Diligence
When leveraging different cloud services from 3rd party vendors or when deploying in-house developed systems on the cloud, enterprises need to exercise due diligence on various security aspects. First and foremost, it is important to establish contractual agreements on data sharing policies, infra control protocols, interoperability metrics, service availability, multitenancy management, etc. before the entire infrastructure goes live with daily business operations. It’s also important to secure the software supply chain, especially when custom applications or third-party tools get integrated into your IT ecosystem. Vendor lock-ins must be avoided at all costs, especially when it’s not possible to establish comprehensive control over back-end services offered via a serverless architecture or Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) model by cloud vendors.
3. Maintain Proactive Monitoring and Audits
Setting up a Security Operations Center (SOC) for real-time monitoring and event logging is a best practice to ensure timely incident management and periodic security audits. These should preferably be conducted by external vendors to provide an unbiased view. This will ensure that security compliance and threat mitigation strategies are always up to date to combat constantly evolving threats. Logging and event tracking mechanisms are necessary to create an additional layer of security, making it easier for security teams to identify sources of breaches or events that triggered a vulnerability. It is therefore critical to get assurance from your cloud provider on compatibility with a SOC infrastructure to ensure 24X7 proactive monitoring and end-to-end protection.
4. Define Standards and Standard Operating Procedures
Prevention is always better than cure, especially in the case of cyberthreats. Enterprises need to work with their cloud vendors and demand strict enforcement of data protection and privacy standards, as well as encoding or encryption policies across all endpoints and information exchange channels. You should also define access guidelines that specify who has the right to access what and who is to be held accountable for any specific event triggers or security safeguards. To this end, Digital Rights Management (DRM), Key Management Systems (KMS), Security Groups, etc. must be defined and agreed upon on your SLA with the cloud vendor to ensure consistent protection against rising threats.
5. Pursue Collaborative Responsibility Management
It is important for cloud vendors and enterprise customers to acknowledge that this is a team effort. They must jointly define shared responsibilities and outline processes for standards enforcement. Just like user access is controlled according to SOPs, it is critical to assign control of security protocol implementation to either the cloud vendor, to the enterprise security team, or both, in a fashion that is clear, transparent, and sustainable.
Deploying your enterprise digital backbone on the cloud is imperative to achieving successful digital transformation for your business and your customers. But it should never be at the risk of opening doors to security threats and compromises. Enterprises must strategically approach cloud security, working collaboratively with their cloud vendors to define a roadmap that assures secure expansion of their digital ambitions on the cloud.
Get in touch with us to know more about building the most secure cloud ecosystem for your business’s digital infrastructure.