There is a constant debate as to whether or not the cloud is secure. This question is not a simple one, because the cloud can go either way. If you want a secure cloud, you have to configure and use it accordingly. Otherwise, it will be no more secure than any other standard network and may be less secure than most. So, to help guide those of you who may not understand this sort of thing, we present a short guide to cloud security management.
The Importance Of Quick Action
When you create a new cloud network, you want to address the security issue immediately. Every day that you delay is a day in which you are vulnerable. The highly interconnected nature of the cloud comes with a certain degree of danger, so take action as quickly as possible.
There are a lot of risks that come with moving to the cloud. That being said, most of these risks can be mitigated or avoided entirely. In short, cloud networks are vulnerable to all the same threats as any other network, but the threat is magnified because of the decentralized and easy-access environment created by cloud computing.
Where To Begin
The first thing you should do is make sure that your network is using a firewall. Firewalls are just programs that refuse connections from any source that looks suspicious. This is done through the use of specific rule sets that have to be updated periodically. So, start by getting into your network settings, turning on the firewall, and updating the rules.
Network firewalls are great, but they only represent one line of defense. You can also close a lot of defensive gaps by limiting important functions. Whenever a new cloud instance is created, there are ways in which you can limit its functionality. In short, you should use what some people call “the rule of least privilege.” Each cloud instance is given the ability to perform its job, and nothing else. Fewer functions will mean fewer potential avenues of attack.
Most cloud networks will have the option of encrypting the network for better security. This will make it much harder for anyone from outside the network to steal data of any sort. Even if they do manage to steal some encrypted data, they won’t be able to read the contents. Although it will slow your network speed slightly, cloud network encryption is always a must-have.
At this point, it is important to understand the difference between the encryption of stored data and the encryption of data in transit. Stored data is encrypted through the use of encrypted file containers. These are drives (usually virtual drives) that have been partially or fully “scrambled”. The data cannot be decrypted without a password. AES 128-bit encryption is the trusted standard here.
Data that is encrypted in transit is a little more complicated, but it is achieved through the use of an encryption protocol called HTTPS. A lot of websites already use HTTPS encryption anyway, but it’s always good to have another layer. Many ancient fortresses had multiple concentric walls in order to provide many barriers against invasion. Encryption can also be layered for a similar effect.
Implement A Monitoring Plan
The next thing you should think about is how you can monitor your cloud network and detect suspicious activity. Unfortunately, hackers and other criminals are sometimes willing and able to infiltrate companies, so don’t underestimate the insider threat. Network monitoring is the only way to protect against those who have already breached the outer defenses. It is your last and most important line of defense.
There are many ways to implement a network monitoring plan. First of all, your cloud provider might offer specific plans that include these kinds of services. Ask about their high-security options and ask about network monitoring specifically. If they can’t help, you can make use of manual tools like Wireshark and Zenmap. These require near-constant monitoring, but they do have the advantage of being free.
If that isn’t practical, you might want to consider the services of an MSSP company (Managed Security Services Provider). It’s an extra monthly bill, but it provides expert human attention on a constant basis. It is also possible to take a hybrid approach, using both in-house and outsourced monitoring, with the responsibilities being divided in whatever way is most workable.
Learn About CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker) Software
We have not discussed the specific software that is used to control your cloud security. The most common method is to use CASB software, which stands for “Cloud Access Security Broker.” The basic idea of these programs is to give you convenient and up-to-date visibility into all aspects of your cloud. At the same time, it also gives network administrators a wide variety of special tools.
Using CASB software, you can set your basic security rules and apply them to all instances (meaning all users and all devices). From there, you can tweak things by applying different rules to individual instances and users. This is how you apply that “rule of least privilege” we discussed earlier.
These programs also allow you to classify your data in different levels according to sensitivity. The better ones will also allow you to encrypt data in such a way that even your cloud provider cannot decrypt the contents. All in all, it is well worth some time to learn more about CASB and how it works.
Network security is a large and complex subject, so don’t feel bad if you don’t understand all these concepts just yet. Indeed, many security breaches happen because of users who don’t understand what they are using. Knowledge is power, and a lack of knowledge is like a hole in your armor. As such, if you would like to learn more about cloud security or employ our expert services, you can call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.