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Seven Elements of a Strong Cloud Security Strategy

Cloud security is gaining importance at many organizations, as cloud computing becomes mainstream. Most organizations use cloud infrastructure or services, whether software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and each of these deployment models has its own, complex security considerations.

Cloud systems are shared resources and are often exposed to, or exist on, the public Internet, and so are a prime target for attackers. In recent years, many high profile security breaches occurred due to misconfigured cloud systems, which allowed attackers easy access to sensitive data or mission critical systems. This is the reason why securing cloud systems requires a comprehensive program and strategy to embed security throughout the enterprise’s cloud lifecycle.

A cloud security strategy is the foundation of successful cloud adoption. Besides significantly increasing your pace of progress as you embark on the journey, documenting your strategy early will achieve consensus and organizational agreement between business and technical teams on key drivers, concerns and governance principles.

  • 7 Key Elements of a resilient Cloud Security Strategy

Today’s security landscape is complex. Protecting your organization requires accepting the fact that your systems will be breached at some point; therefore, your strategy should contain both pre-breach and post-breach elements. Here are seven key elements of a strong cloud security strategy:

1. Identity and Access Management

All companies should have an Identity and Access Management (IAM) system to control access to information. Your cloud provider will either integrate directly with your IAM or offer their own in-built system. An IAM combines multi-factor authentication and user access policies, helping you control who has access to your applications and data, what they can access, and what they can do to your data.

2. Visibility

Visibility into current cloud architecture should be a priority for your security team. Lack of visibility around cloud infrastructure is one of the top concerns for many organizations. The cloud makes it easy to spin up new workloads at any time, perhaps to address a short-term project or spike in demand, and those assets can be easily forgotten once the project is over. Cloud environments are dynamic, not static. Without visibility to changes in your environment, your organization can be left exposed to potential security vulnerabilities. After all, you can’t protect what you can’t see.

3. Encryption

Your data should be securely encrypted when it’s on the provider’s servers and while it’s in use by the cloud service. Few cloud providers assure protection for data being used within the application or for disposing of your data. So it’s important to have a strategy to secure your data not only when it’s in transit but also when it’s on their servers and accessed by the cloud-based applications.

Encryption is another layer of cloud security to protect your data assets, by encoding them when at rest and in transit. This ensures the data is near impossible to decipher without a decryption key that only you have access to.

4. Micro-Segmentation

Micro-segmentation is increasingly common in implementing cloud security. It is the practice of dividing your cloud deployment into distinct security segments, right down to the individual workload level. By isolating individual workloads, you can apply flexible security policies to minimize any damage an attacker could cause, should they gain access.

5. Automation

Certainly, automation is a key part of building a successful cloud strategy, as is the need to manage IAM policies. We recommend automating everything you can, everywhere you can. This includes leveraging serverless architecture to respond to alerts, making them manageable to avoid alert fatigue and enabling your security operations team to focus on the events that need their attention.

6. Cloud Security Monitoring

Security Monitoring is not only a matter of choosing the right security service provider but it requests that company develop and drive adoption of a standard interface that permits to query the actual security status of specific elements of a provider’s services. In an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering, these may include security status of a virtual machine. In a Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS), the patch status of a piece of software may be important. In both of these cases (PaaS and SaaS), applications are provided through the cloud and their update status would need to be monitored. The data will be maintained by the provider in real time, allowing the subscriber to ascertain security levels at any given point in time. The onus is ultimately on the subscriber to ensure its compliance reporting meets all geographical and industry-based regulations.​

7. Secure data transfers

Keep in mind that data is not only at risk when it’s sitting on cloud storage servers, it’s also vulnerable when in transit (i.e. while being uploaded, downloaded or moved on your server). Although most cloud service providers encrypt data transfers as a rule, this is not always a given.

To ensure data is protected while on the move, make certain that transfers go through secure HTTP access and are encrypted using SSL. Your business IT support provider should be able to help you obtain an SSL certificate and configure your cloud service to use it. You may also want to install HTTPS Everywhere on all devices that connect to your cloud.

The role of the cloud and container utilization will significantly grow in 2022 and beyond, as the speed of migrating to hyperscale environments continues to accelerate. Without a sound cloud security strategy, organizations will increase their risk profile as they increase their cloud consumption, opening themselves up to potentially devastating attacks and breaches.

A strong cloud security strategy paired with advanced technology solutions and trusted security partners will help ensure organizations can take advantage of the many unique capabilities and benefits of modern computing environments without incurring additional and unacceptable risk.

How to Secure Privileged Access in the Cloud

In times of increased cyber threats, securing privileged access is a critical step to establishing security assurances for business assets in a modern enterprise. The security of most or all business assets in an organization depends on the integrity of the privileged accounts that administer and manage IT systems. Cyber-attackers are targeting these accounts and other elements of privileged access to rapidly gain access to targeted data and systems using credential theft attacks. Protecting administrative access against determined adversaries require you to take a complete and thoughtful approach to isolate these systems from risks.

Privileged Access Management (PAM) combines the most current and comprehensive defence strategies against malicious third parties executing cyber-attacks with increased efficiency and the support of greater resources. Constantly updated and evolving Privileged Access Management manages to be efficient in terms of protecting your data, including cloud security.

Establishing Cloud Security with Privileged Access Management

Since it is quite difficult to be protected against the vulnerabilities and risks of cloud technologies with standard safety precautions, data access security should be established via innovative approaches such as Privileged Access Management. This is one of the most effective ways to create a more productive security ecosystem for digital services such as cloud technologies. Some of the steps to establish cloud security via Privileged Access Management include:

  • Use of Zero Trust

All cloud service providers utilize management consoles to manage accounts, configure services and troubleshooting. Cyberattacks commonly target these consoles in order to access various data. Cloud-based service providers should carefully monitor users with privileged access rights and privileged access requests. Authorized accounts must be taken under control in order to prevent attacks and data leaks via various controlling tiers such as privileged session manager.

Modern privileged access management starts with an assumption that every user is a remote user for an organization. Zero trust building blocks of continuous authentication and verifying the user, context-based privileges are required to secure modern privileged access.

Zero trust follows the principle of “never trust, always verify” policy and least access/privilege model that focuses on identity-based authentication and access controls to ensure bad actors cannot use easily compromised credentials to gain privileged access, move around the network, and extract sensitive and valuable data. As organizations move to adopt zero trust, we are also finding organizations adopting a zero standing privilege posture, where no one has access rights or privileges permanently assigned; rather, access is granted just in time for a limited duration to reduce the attack surface and eliminate the potential for malicious actors accessing any infrastructure, even if they are able to compromise existing credentials.

  • Use of Multifactor authentication

Virtual servers, data storages, and other cloud resources are common targets for cyberattacks. Malicious third parties may try to utilize automatic provision tools in order to initiate attacks and cause downtime. Therefore, service providers should establish strong security systems and applications such as two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authorization in order to prevent unauthorized access to cloud automation command files and provision tools. The use of multifactor authentication for all privileged user access to cloud environments should be mandatory, and this likely could have prevented the initial compromise of Code Spaces’ console. Many providers offer a variety of different forms of multifactor access, including certificates on the endpoint, hard and soft tokens from leading multifactor providers, and SMS codes – which are not as secure, but still better than nothing at all.

  • Use of APIs

Cloud applications commonly use APIs in order to halt and initiate servers or conduct other environmental changes. API access authorization data such as SSH keys are generally coded built-in to the applications and placed in public storages such as GitHub. Then, they become targets for malicious third parties. Therefore, enterprises should remove built-in SSH keys from applications and make sure only the authorized applications to access through areas with encrypted infrastructures that act as digital safe, such as dynamic password controller. Such Privileged Access Management steps ensure efficient protection of cloud technologies, which are so hard to be protected via only legacy security software or firewalls.

Security is always best deployed in layers. While traditional security controls are necessary at the perimeter, we need to constantly think about how to prevent malicious privileged access, assuming that the bad actors are already on the inside and may already have access to credentials. Privileged accounts, credentials and secrets are found in devices, applications and operating systems allowing organisations to secure the infrastructure and applications, run business efficiently and maintain the confidentiality of sensitive data. In the wrong hands, privileged credentials can be used to cause catastrophic damage to a business. This is why they must be protected, managed and monitored.

For more information about Privileged Access Management, download the Whitepaper below:

Identity and Access Management – One of the Pillars of Keeping Data Safe in the Cloud

The way companies conduct and manage their business is changing. Nowadays storing data in the cloud is becoming the norm. With cloud computing, consumers and companies can scale up to massive capacities in an instant without having any investment in new infrastructure or they can even shrink to a desktop within a second. As enterprises increasingly store applications and data files that contain personal and confidential information in the cloud, they need to take all measures to secure cloud assets to prevent system breaches and data theft. This is the reason why Identity and Access Management is considered the most effective way to ensure cloud security.

More safety in the cloud with IAM

Managing access control and governance within IAM, to meet today’s business needs in the cloud environment, remains one of the major hurdles for enterprises’ adoption of cloud services. Today’s aggressive adoption of immature cloud computing services by enterprises creates extreme thrust to have a strong cloud-based IAM system which provides support for business needs. It ranges from secure collaborations with global partners to secure access for global employees consuming sensitive information, from any location and using any device at any time.

Cloud Identity and Access Management tools allow security administrators to authorise who can access specific resources at specific times by giving the enterprise administrator full control and visibility to handle their cloud resources. In some cases IAM can offer control for Software as a Service based applications for even more management. With any IAM tool, enterprises could provide a unified view into security policy across the organisation and have built-in auditing to ease compliance processes.

In this article we will discuss several major IAM functions that are essential for successful and effective management of identities in the cloud:

– Identity provisioning/deprovisioning

– Authentication and federation

– Authorisation and user profile management

– Support for compliance

  • Identity provisioning

One of the major challenges for organisations adopting cloud computing services is the secure and timely management of on-boarding (provisioning) and off-boarding (deprovisioning) of users in the cloud. Further, enterprises that have invested in user management processes within an enterprise will seek to extend those processes to cloud services.

Identity provisioning practice within an organisation deals with the provisioning and de-provisioning of various types of user accounts (end-user, application administrator, IT administrator, supervisor, developer, billing administrator) to cloud services. It is very common for cloud services to rely on a registry of users, each representing either an individual or an organisation, maintained by the cloud service provider to support billing, authentication, authorisation, federation, and auditing processes.

  • Authentication

When organisations utilise cloud services, authenticating users in a trustworthy and manageable manner is a vital requirement. Organisations must address authentication-related challenges such as credential management, strong authentication, delegated authentication, and managing trust across all types of cloud services.

Authentication is the process of validating or confirming that access credentials provided by a user (for instance, a user ID and password) are valid. A user in this case could be a person, another application, or a service; all should be required to authenticate.

Many enterprise applications require that users authenticate before allowing access. Authorisation, the process of granting access to requested resources, is pointless without suitable authentication. When organisations begin to utilise applications in the cloud, authenticating users in a trustworthy and manageable manner becomes an additional challenge. Organisations must address authentication-related challenges such as credential management, strong authentication, delegated authentication, and trust across all types of cloud delivery models.

  • Federation

In the cloud computing environment, Federated Identity Management plays a vital role in enabling organisations to authenticate their users of cloud services using the organisation’s chosen identity provider (IdP). In that context, exchanging identity attributes between the service provider (SP) and the IdP securely is also a requirement. Organisations considering federated identity management in the cloud should understand the various challenges and possible solutions to address those challenges with respect to identity lifecycle management, available authentication methods to protect confidentiality, and integrity, while supporting non-repudiation.

  • Compliance

For customers who rely on cloud services, it is important to understand how identity management can enable compliance with internal or regulatory requirements. Well designed identity management can ensure that information about accounts, access grants, and segregation of duty enforcement at cloud providers, can all be pulled together to satisfy an enterprise’s audit and compliance reporting requirements.

By deploying IAM tools and following related best practices, a company can gain a competitive edge. IAM technologies enable the business to give users outside the organisation, like partners, customers, contractors and suppliers, access to its network across mobile applications, on-premise apps, and software-as-a-service apps without compromising security. This allows better collaboration, improved productivity, increased efficiency and reduced operating costs. Privacy is considered a vital issue in the cloud environment protection and can be gained through identity and Access Management, ensuring the highest level of data security.

PATECCO issues a new E-guide: Best Practices in Identity and Access Management

After the successful edition of the White Paper: PATECCO Privileged Access Management Services, the company issued a new E-guide. This is the third edition of PATECCO’s E-gudes from the series: PATECCO Best Practices in Identity and Access Management. You can read updated information about the main tactics to get Identity and Access Management right, how Cloud Security enables innovation and security and in what way Identity Governance and Intelligence protects your business. PATECCO shared interesting facts about the importance of API in the Digital Transformation and how Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning ensure successful business transformation.

Are you ready for reading? Just click on the image below and download it for free.

PATECCO Third E-Guide for Best practices in IAM.







How Cloud Access Control Enables Security and Innovation in the Digital Age (Part 2)

Each organisation should take into account that security must remain the cornerstone of the cloud deployment strategy. There are several forces driving big companies toward public clouds – reduced costs, scalability, reliability, efficiency and the ability to attract and retain technical staff. But in most cases, the success or failure of any project is measured by the level of security that is integrated to safeguard an organization’s data and that of its customers.

In the past two years, several high-profile security breaches have resulted in the theft or exposure of millions of personal customer data records. The headlines are a constant reminder of the disruptive impact on a business in the wake of a breach. Concern about the security of public cloud technology itself, however, is misplaced. Most vulnerabilities can be traced back to a lack of understanding of cloud security and a shortage of the skills necessary to implement effective security measures.

Security should need not altogether be viewed as an impediment to migration efforts, but it must not be swept aside due to pressure or demands from business units. While companies cannot prevent every attack, building cloud security awareness at the right levels of the organization from the outset is a first line of defence for blocking the malicious activity that often precedes a breach.

Which are the biggest security threats of the companies when using cloud technologies?

1. Data breaches

The risk of data breach is always a top concern for cloud customers. It might be caused by an attacker, sometimes by human error, application vulnerabilities, or poor security practices. It also includes any kind of private information, personal health information, financial information, personally identifiable information, trade secrets, and intellectual property.

2. Data Loss

Data loss may occur if the user hasn’t created a backup for his files and also when an owner of encrypted data loses the key which unlocks it. As a result it could cause a failure to meet compliance policies or data protection requirements.

3. Ransomware attack

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that threatens to publish the victim’s data or block access to it. The attack leaves you with a poor opportunity for get your files back.  One of them is to pay the ransom, although you can never be sure that you will receive the decryption keys as you were promised. The other option is to restore a backup.  

4. Account hijacking

It happens, when an attacker gets access to a users’ credentials, he or she can look into their activities and transactions, manipulate the data, and return falsified information.

5. System vulnerabilities
System vulnerabilities can put the security of all services and data at significant risk. Attackers can use the bugs in the programs to steal data by taking control of the system or by disrupting service operations.

6. Advanced persistent threats (APT)

An advanced persistent threat is a network attack in which an unauthorized person gets access to a network and stays there undetected for a long period of time. The goal of such kind of attacks is to steal data, especially from corporations with high-value information.

7. Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks

Denial-of-service attacks typically flood servers, systems or networks and make it hard or even impossible for legitimate users to use the devices and the network resources inside.

How does the Cloud Infrastructure protect the business from the dangers?

Nowadays most companies are still in a process of searching for the right formula and developing successful strategy to prevent all of the above mentioned threats.  What they should do is to adhere to strong security requirements and proper authorization or authentication.

In the report, “Assessing the Risks of Cloud Computing,” Gartner strongly recommends engaging a third-party security firm to perform a risk assessment.  Coding  technology is also a way to  give  no  chance  to  hackers to  hijack  your  computer  or spread ransomware infection. Data  is  encoded  in  your  computer  and  the  backup  data  is  uploaded directly to the cloud storage locations.

Another effective way to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data and apps is to ensure secure access with modern, mobile multi-factor authentication. Cloud security is enhanced with compliance regulations which keep high standards of privacy and protection of personal data and information. In such situation PATECCO recommends organizations to focus on Cloud Access Control, Privileged Access Management, Role Based Access Control, GRC, SIEM, IGI.

It’s important to have a full understanding of the services available to protect your infrastructure, applications, and data. And it’s critical for teams to show that they know how to can use them for each deployment across the infrastructure stack. By implementing security measures across your deployments, you are minimizing the attack surface area of your infrastructure.

How Cloud Security Enables Innovation and Security in the Digital Age (Part 1)

Nowadays security technologies such as IoT, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, User Behaviour Analytics, Cloud Computing are on the rise. Rapidly changing customer needs force firms to adapt and create new business models. More and more companies choose to implement cloud systems, because of the rising number of digital identities rises and the rising need to protect and manage how personal information is collected, used and distributed.

Cloud based applications are convenient for different types of businesses and at the same time enable secure data management, analysis, and access from anywhere. Businesses that implement cloud computing, report improved security, efficiency, agility and scalability.

Agility

Companies should regularly reinvent their business models and when using Cloud systems, they are provided with the required infrastructure, platforms and computing abilities that helps them stay agile and ready for a change.

Security

Cloud offers increased protection at each layer from threats such as data breaches, disasters, and system shutdown. 

Efficient collaboration and flexibility

Cloud computing gives the business the flexibility to share files or data, from different devices, with the people across the world.

Cloud systems also play a crucial role in marketing activities, bringing the following benefits to marketing teams:

1. Superior Customer Experience

Cloud business model helps marketers to offer a superior customer experience. Not only because of the single sign-on convenience, but because of the unified cloud infrastructure, as well. It allows marketers to easily access and share their files, both within the team and with clients. That makes the collaboration and communication easier and more effective than ever.

2. Improved Analytics

The cloud makes it easier to track leads, customers and prospects by the use of CRM system. Marketers have the ability to test new channels, and to determine which elements of the marketing strategy worked well and which not.

3. Innovation

With improved accessibility, collaboration, and analytics, marketers can focus better in understanding customer needs and their pain points, consequently they can spend more time creating innovative campaigns to connect with customers and respond their requirements.

Beside this, there are some examples for successful marketing activities in the cloud. One of them is IBM Digital Marketing Network in the cloud. It provides customized dashboards, allowing marketers to integrate new marketing services, to view how their marketing campaigns are performing through the different channel thanks to real-time analytics to any marketing service such as Google Display Network, Doubleclick Search, etc. This is an efficient way to improve customer engagement and responses.

The next successful example is Amazon Web Services. AWS is a cloud computing solution that allows millions of customers to build applications with increased flexibility, scalability, security, and reliability. A lot of marketers use Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) which provide the software for doing e-mail campaigns. In this way they can easily send email communications to large numbers of customers, and prospects.

Moving forward to Hybrid Cloud

As cloud computing becomes mainstream, many organizations prefer their IT environments to include public and some private cloud. Most of them believe that exactly the combination of clouds ensures robust cloud governance model.

Hybrid plays a key role for organizations that want to successfully manage data access between private networks and public clouds. And this interconnection acts as the bridge to securely and directly connect cloud service providers and enterprises. In this way the companies will be able to continue their business transformation journey and develop deeply innovative and business models for future growth.