What to Look for in Cloud Security? How Managed Service Providers Can Help You Secure Your Cloud-based Business?

What to Look for in Cloud Security? How Managed Service Providers Can Help You Secure Your Cloud-based Business?

The need to use cloud computing and make it all secure has never been more pronounced. Organizations are fast turning to the cloud to fulfill their computing needs and their concerns for the security of the data are also mounting.

More than 90% of organizations using the cloud are somewhat anxious about the security of their data and apps. Well, this should not be surprising when at least one in four organizations has weathered a cloud security incident within the past year alone.

However, cloud security is a tricky area. Though Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) claim that they have everything to offer to enhance the security of their customer’s data, the ground reality tells a different story.

That’s why it’s extremely important to assess the most common cloud security threats and what to look for in a Cloud Security Provider before you purchase their services. Beware, cloud security is too sophisticated a subject to be handled by your in-house teams. You may have to consult a  managed services provider (MSP) to assume the cloud responsibility on your behalf.

The stage is set. Let’s find answers to all the hot questions related to cloud security. You’ll get to know the security risks associated with the cloud, understand the threat landscape, and discover the qualities of the best MSPs.

Let’s begin.

Cloud Security

Why is Cloud Security Required?

The widespread adoption of cloud technology coupled with the rising complexity of cyber threats demands robust cloud security measures. Here are some important reasons why cloud security has to be prioritized.

  • Data Encryption for secure transmission and storage
  • Access Controls to restrict unauthorized entry
  • Compliance Assurance for adherence to regulations
  • Multi-factor authentication for enhanced access security
  • Regular Audits for identifying and fixing vulnerabilities
  • Incident Response Planning for Effective Crisis Management
  • Network Monitoring to promptly address suspicious activity
  • Vendor Security Assessment for selecting secure cloud providers
  • Data Residency Compliance for legal and privacy adherence
  • Secure APIs to prevent vulnerabilities in data exchange

What is a Cloud Service Provider and Why are They Important?

A Cloud Service Provider (CSP) is a company that offers computing capabilities over the internet. The services may include: 

  • Platforms,
  • Infrastructure,
  • Software,
  • Storage,

These services are collectively called Cloud Services. They allow you to use computing resources without the need to have your own physical infrastructure.

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
  • IBM Cloud
  • Oracle Cloud.
  • And more.

Each of these providers offers a different range of services. All in all, they all cater to different business needs and preferences.

Who is Responsible for the Security of Hardware on which a Public Cloud Runs?

In a public cloud environment, the responsibility for security is shared between the cloud provider and the cloud customer, in the given manner. 

Security of Hardware running a Public Cloud

This shared responsibility model is often summarized as follows:

The CSP is responsible for the security “of” the cloud. Mainly, that’s the underlying infrastructure. This includes the physical security of: 

  • Data centers,
  • Hardware and software,
  • Implementation of security controls.

Whereas, the cloud customer is responsible for the security “in” the cloud. That covers:

  • Applications,
  • Workloads,
  • Data deployed on the cloud.
  • Configurations for cloud resources
  • Implementing access controls
  • Protecting data stored in the cloud.

Here is a more concise explanation:

What is Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)?

CASB is a security solution that provides an interface between cloud computing consumers and the vendor. It’s a centralized policy enforcement point. It enables you to manage/control data and resource access mechanisms.

What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

CSPM is a continuous process of monitoring cloud-enabled systems to remediate security vulnerabilities. It helps you maintain a secure cloud environment by having a strong grip on your cloud security posture.

Cloud Security Management

6 Security Risks of Cloud Computing

1. Loss of Visibility

The most significant challenge is the lack of enough visibility. CSPs usually operate their services from multiple different locations. Now, if there are no proper processes in place, you may not have a complete picture of who is accessing your data and when. What part of your data is going through what processes and what’s the status of its security?

These are the things that should be completely transparent. But, given the complexity of cloud computing, many vendors are not able to keep this transparency alive.

And, in such cases, you start losing visibility into your precious data. No oversight of uploading and downloading and whatnot.

So, to protect it, you should be able to always see it. Without transparency, your data may be at risk of loss.

2. Risk of Compliance Violations

Regulatory expectations and control mechanisms have soared a lot in recent years. With the rise of cyber threats, it’s understandable as well.

But, with the complexity of cloud security, many organizations are likely to face difficulties adhering to all these requirements.

These compliance requirements also require you to have complete visibility of your data and be in control of its storage. They require you to define how the data will be accessed and to know who is accessing and processing it. Some regulations may also require your cloud service provider’s security to be top-notch. They may also be required to have certain certifications.

That means you need to exercise care while transferring data to the cloud. Selecting an inappropriate CSP may lead to your organization being fined for violation of regulations. Ultimately, you can end up exposing it to significant legal consequences.

3. Unsecure Application User Interface (API)

Weak APIs can also offer huge cloud security risks. APIs are the software that gives you an interface to connect with the cloud and implement control.

But any API built into your web or mobile apps can be accessed by internal staff. These are external-facing APIs. The problem with them is they can bring a cloud security risk.

4. Poor Cloud Security Strategies and Architecture

Sometimes, organizations feel in a hurry to migrate systems and data to the cloud. In this quest, many of them tend to come in operational more even before proper cloud security strategy and systems are in place. Your operations should not start before you become able to beef up your cloud infrastructure’s security.

Cloud Security Strategies

5. Insider Threats

Your reliable staff members, contractors, and associates in business could pose significant security risks.

Insider threats, even without malicious intent, have the potential to harm your business. Interestingly, a majority of insider incidents arise from inadequate training or negligence rather than deliberate malice.

Several factors contribute to the prominence of insider threats in cloud security:

✔ Insiders typically have legitimate access to data stored in the cloud.

✔ Intimate knowledge of systems, cloud architecture, security protocols, etc.

✔ Inadvertent data exposure may lead to unintentional actions i.e. misconfigurations, etc.

✔ Credential misuse and erosion of trust.

6.  Contractual Breaches

Your contract with the cloud service provider clearly outlines what data permission they have and what privileges they don’t. They have to comply with them while accessing and processing your data. They also have to follow all the authorization protocols to keep your data safe.

However, it may happen that some of your employees may unwillingly move unpermitted data into a cloud service. Now, this creates a contract breach which could lead to legal action against you.

That is why it’s crucial to watch for such errors. And, they are quite common in the industry. So, it’s another challenge to navigate the complexities of the contracts and to train your employees on those guidelines. However, ignorance of these contracts could unintentionally bring problems. 

Cloud Technology

Top 6 Security Checklist Recommendations for Cloud Customers

1. Secure Use of the Service

A cloud service provider may have excellent infrastructure in place but still, you can be susceptible to security breaches just because of poor service.

So, it’s important to understand how crucial security responsibilities are when using cloud services.

The cloud deployment model combined with the built-in features of service dictates who has what responsibilities.

For example, with, IaaS, the majority of the burden lies with the customer.

You’ll be in charge of deploying an instance and then taking care of your OS, security configurations, software patches, etc. Whereas, for SaaS, more responsibility lies with the cloud service provider. So, it’s important to consider the responsibility model before you choose any service. 

2. Visibility and Transparency

As discussed above, it’s paramount to stay in control of your data and processes. Your CSP should provide complete visibility and transparency of your data so that you are always aware of its use and location. You should be able to access all the information via simple, communicative dashboards available to you at any given time.

Your CSP should also provide activity monitoring so you are aware of the configuration changes and the state of security across your ecosystem. They should also support compliance whenever you integrate new services with the existing ones.

3. Staff & Cloud Experts Should be Trustworthy

Your cloud service provider’s personnel are going to handle your data and your entire mission depends on their personal integrity and professionalism.

Not only they should have high ethical standards, but also they should have the proper training to equip themselves to handle your data well. This will make sure they understand their inherent security responsibilities. For this, the CSP should have in place a rigorous screening system so that only personnel with high ethical standards can access your data. 

The CSP should have a system in place to verify their identity and monitor for any suspicious intentions. There are some very good screening standards like BS 7858:2019 ( UK ) or form I-9 (USA). They should conform to such standards, depending on what country your business operates in.

4. Protective Monitoring and Incident Management

When running your operations on the cloud, you need a quick and decisive action mechanism to counter any security incidents. Your CSP should not only be able to take such quick actions, but also they should have a system in place to automatically inform you of the incidents and actions.

They will also have a pre-planned incident management process in place. These plans should cover all common types of attacks. Any time, they should be ready to deploy these plans whenever an attack happens.

5. Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Your CSP should ensure that only authorized people from your organization can access their service interface. They should have a proper system in place to offer some versatile IAM capabilities including MFA, TLS client certificates, and identity federation with your existing identity provider.

They should also provide the ability to block access to a dedicated enterprise or community network. Also, their authentication channel should be secure enough to prevent interception. HTTPS is a good example. Authentication over any other medium like email or even HTTP should not be acceptable.

Cloud Security

6. Compliance and Security Integration

Your cloud service provider should ensure that security and compliance are top-notch. There are several global compliance requirements that they should meet at all costs.

It’s third-party organizations that validate if they meet these regulations or not. They should also follow cloud best practices for security. A certification in this regard would be a huge plus.

Validation from The STAR program (Cloud Security Alliance’s Security, Trust, and Assurance Registry) can be a good indicator of their security capabilities. Also, there are some industry-specific certifications that you should also look for if your organization operates in any of the relevant niches. Some examples of these regulations are HIPPA, PCI-DSS, GDPR, etc.

How to Choose a Managed Service Provider for Your Cloud Computing Needs?

Here are the top 10 qualities to consider when choosing a Cloud MSP:

  • Expertise in a wide range of Cloud Platforms i.e. AWS, Azure, Google Cloud. They should have certified professionals and a proven track record of successful implementations on these platforms.
  • Security is paramount. The MSP should have robust security measures in place i.e. data encryption, access controls, regular audits, compliance with industry regulations, etc. Look for certifications like ISO 27001.
  • Massive scaling capabilities to support your business as it grows.
  • Clearly defined SLAs to meet your performance and uptime requirements. Pay attention to response times, resolution times, and the overall availability of their services.
  • Proactive Monitoring and Management to identify and address issues before they impact your operations.
  • The MSP should be financially sound, with a track record of delivering outstanding services. Verify their business tenure, reach out to past and present clients for references, and request evidence of financial stability from potential IT service providers.
  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity. This includes regular backups, testing of recovery processes, and a well-defined business continuity strategy.
  • Cloud costs can spiral out of control without proper management. Look for an MSP that can help optimize your cloud spending, provide cost projections, and recommend strategies for maximizing your ROI.
  • Continued support is essential, especially if your business operates globally.

Wrapping it Up

Remember, it is the customer’s responsibility to manage Applications, Workloads, and Data & Configurations deployed on the cloud. You will also be in charge of implementing access controls. So, ultimately it’s your responsibility to protect data stored in the cloud.

Also, it’s important to note that the specific division of responsibilities may vary between cloud providers. So, it’s always a good idea to consult with your CSP to understand their specific shared responsibility model.

In general, your in-house teams do not have the expertise to ask the right questions to your CSPs. Also, you need a strong helping hand to optimize costs while purchasing cloud licenses from vendors.

For this purpose, it is advisable to arrange some dependable managed cloud services. Your MSP will ensure you do not have to suffer with costs and security issues even if your in-house teams do not have a strong grip on cloud computing. 

WME Managed Cloud Services

Here at WME, we have always maintained a security-first approach to cloud computing. We ensure your transition to the cloud is both secure and avoids frequent patches of downtime. Ultimately, we make sure your cloud security strategy and infrastructure align well with your system and business requirements.

Compliance standards like SOC and HiTrust, are always hard to follow, but we help you navigate their competitors and challenges like a pro. 

We pride ourselves on delivering the highest operational security standards for both our professional and managed cloud services clients. This includes implementing the latest security patches, nonstop uptime monitoring, comprehensive backups, and all other active/passive measures to prevent your business from cyberattacks.

Bottom line: your site will be absolutely safe and secure.

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Arslan Ahmad

A passionate content writer armed with years of experience in the tech industry striving to be your go-to source for cutting-edge insights and knowledge related to IT.

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