Organizations are moving fast to adopt a cloud-first strategy. This change propelled by the pandemic has enterprises embracing the hybrid and multi-cloud approach. Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report declares that 92% of enterprises already have a multi-cloud strategy and 80% are using a hybrid cloud strategy. With the hybrid multi-cloud approach, your business can benefit from the existing on-premises enterprise computing systems and combine them with the scalability and flexibility offered by the public and private cloud.
But security and compliance in this landscape are fragmented and lead to increased vulnerability and reduced visibility because of the complex interconnected networks. Your enterprise needs to evolve and upgrade their current data security solutions to overcome the challenges of this environment. Following are some of the procedures you can implement to meet the data security challenges of the hybrid cloud environment.
1. Centralized Identity and Access Controls
Embracing an identity-centric approach will be key to protecting enterprise users and applications that are on-premises and in the cloud. A centralized Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution helps reduce the complexity of authentication across individual databases or applications. To mitigate privilege escalation attacks, you need to continuously monitor user activities, their roles, and permissions, and build a process to remove unused and excessive privileges.
Tight control over data access rights with a single identity approach and unified IAM policies across hybrid and multi-cloud environments will ensure that only authorized users have access and decrease security risks. Additionally, a better understanding of your data needs will allow you to implement contextual data access controls depending on the type of data and where it’s stored. Then, you can set the appropriate level of protection based on your security requirements and make the access and authorization process secure and frictionless for all levels of users.
2. Single-pane management
In a hybrid multi-cloud environment, continuous monitoring of security is essential to quickly detect and respond to security threats. With data spread across both physical and virtual networks, security professionals need a centralized platform to enable this continuous monitoring and assessment of security risks. Enterprises need a security solution that integrates across all systems on the cloud and provides a single view along with centralized management capabilities. This single-pane management approach will then track data flow across the complete network, improving visibility and helping you understanding identities that are accessing critical workloads. It will also enable a unified threat intelligence system for all the data on your network and in the outside world.
3. Adoption of Zero Trust principles
A zero-trust approach involves the assumption of no trust, even for systems inside the organizational network. A zero-trust architecture involves mapping transaction flows in your network, creating boundaries between users and applications, enforcing contextual access controls based on least-privilege principles, and actively monitoring and maintaining all data traffic. With this architectural approach, you will also be able to maximize your compliance efforts while improving monitoring and reporting. This approach enables a consistent and comprehensive security structure that will help you stay ahead of potential attacks and evolving technologies.
4. Segmentation and Secure Connectivity
Because the internal resources and data are on a network that is open to the public and third-party applications, it is crucial to segment systems and traffic across the cloud. This will minimize the impact on business-critical applications in the event of a security breach. Also, a robust Virtual Private Network (VPN) functionality is needed to provide secure temporary access to internal resources while protecting the rest of the network. The hybrid environment often involves moving data between locations, loading large datasets, and connecting to third-party cloud analytics solutions, all of which require discreet and secure connections to external networks. A VPN solution that provides the right protection based on the network connections requirements will significantly minimize data security risks.
5. Adoption of DevSecOps Practices
DevSecOps enables your security team to integrate automated checks into the software development process, running a series of security tests before the code is deployed to the production environment. With this automation, you can securely manage the deployment and development of resources and eliminate leftover copies of data and virtual machines that can become a liability. These automated security workflows will also reduce the probability of human errors and improve overall business agility.
Ensuring the security of data and workloads is critical to make the adoption of hybrid multi-cloud environments a success. Cloud security solutions need to address the unique requirements that come with combining internal resources with external connections and data sources in the hybrid environment.
The author is Co-founder, Director& Chief Data Scientist at Celebal Technologies