Last updated at Tue, 05 Jul 2022 21:06:00 GMT

There has been an unprecedented acceleration in the shift to the cloud as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. McKinsey experts estimate companies have moved to the cloud “24 times faster [...] than they thought” over the past two years. As organizations move quickly to scale, drive innovation, and revamp the way they engage with their consumers by moving to the public cloud, there is an increasing need for a security strategy that aligns with the varied states of organizations' maturity in their usage and adoption of the cloud.

Modern cloud environments are complex and require multiple areas of focus, including security, application modernization, reduction of infrastructure overhead, accelerating software delivery, maintaining compliance, and countless more. All of these are critical to realizing the end goals of cloud adoption: increased speed, flexibility, and performance. Rapid cloud adoption without the appropriate visibility and automated security controls will lead to imminent exposure and vulnerability.

Whose responsibility is cloud security?

When it comes to cloud environments, security and compliance are a shared responsibility between the cloud service provider (CSP) and the customer’s internal security team. In the typical shared responsibility model, cloud providers are responsible for the security OF the cloud. This essentially means they are on the hook to make sure the actual underlying resources you’re using – such as a storage bucket or a compute instance – or the physical hardware sitting in their data centers aren’t a security threat.

So, if the provider is responsible for security of the cloud itself, what falls to the customer? Customers are responsible for security IN the cloud, meaning they are responsible for making sure their own data – and their customers’ data – is properly secured. Generally speaking, this means keeping track of how various resources and services are configured properly; identifying and remediating exploitable vulnerabilities; managing identity and access management (IAM) policies to maintain least privilege access; and utilizing encryption for data, whether it’s at rest, in transit, or even in use.

So why is it that such a large majority of breaches are the fault of the customer if the responsibility is shared? There are a few drivers behind this, but it’s primarily because the goal of most bad actors is to gain access to sensitive and potentially lucrative customer data, which falls outside of the responsibility of the cloud provider.

I know what you’re thinking: “The answer is simple – just don’t leave a cloud resource housing sensitive data exposed to the public internet.” That’s, of course, the intent of any well-meaning engineer. That said, mistakes are unfortunately quite common. As engineers and developers work at light speed to bring new products to market, it can be very easy for security and compliance to fall through the cracks, especially as powerful new cloud capabilities enable infrastructure to be implemented with the click of a mouse.

This is consistent with our own research in our 2022 Cloud Misconfigurations Report, in which we found the most commonly breached resources were those that were secure and private by default, such as a storage bucket. This suggests human error played a pivotal role in leaving data exposed.

Prioritizing risk requires a unified approach to cloud security

The scale and complexity of modern cloud environments make it impossible to respond to every alert and potential issue that arises. So, what can you and your team do to make sure you’re not vulnerable to attack?

The key is context.

It is imperative for organizations to think of cloud security holistically so that they can understand their true risk exposure. Organizations need to be able to easily prioritize the issues that are the most critical to fix right away from the flood of alerts and incidents that are calling for their teams’ attention.

The question that needs answering seems simple, yet can be quite complex: “What are the biggest threats to my cloud environment today, and how do I mitigate them?” As mentioned earlier, it is not sufficient anymore to look at an issue through a single lens. Without a unified approach to cloud security, you could be leaving your organization and the systems it relies on in jeopardy.

This means examining not just the risks associated with a workload itself, but a holistic mapping of all resource interdependencies across your environment to understand how one compromised resource may impact others. It means taking into consideration whether or not a given resource is connected to the public internet, or whether there is potential for improper access to potentially sensitive information. There is also business context that needs to be taken into account, where an understanding of resource ownership and accountability can highlight relevant stakeholders that need to be looped in for remediation or audits and provide color as to potential business impact.

See? Simple – yet complex.

Extend this concept across millions of resources spanning hundreds of cloud environments, architectures, and technologies, and you have the complexity of cloud security today. It is therefore a non-negotiable starting point to have a consolidated, weighted, and standardized view of risk to one’s cloud estate. This can only be accomplished by gathering and analyzing all of the relevant data in a single solution that helps you see the full context – and passing that context along to other teams like DevOps – so that organizations can start being more strategic about prioritizing and remediating risks in their environment.

While there are many cloud security tools and vendors that focus on various aspects of cloud security, such as misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, access permissions, and exposure to the internet, very few offer a holistic understanding of all of the above combined to provide a “true” understanding of risk.

A holistic approach to cloud security with InsightCloudSec

Maintaining visibility can only get you so far from a security perspective. Given the sheer volume of monitored resources, chances are without an effective strategy to prioritize the flood of alerts cloud environments produce, your teams won’t know where to start.

The cloud is here to stay, and it is ever-changing. As cloud security and technologies evolve, so do attempts by bad actors to breach it. It is crucial for organizations to invest in best practices and automated cloud security throughout the development lifecycle. Cloud architectures and initiatives must be built on solid risk detection, prioritization and management processes, and platforms that provide seamless and real-time visibility into the true risk posture of the organization.

Increasingly, organizations want to focus their efforts on activities that increase their bottom line and competitive advantage. They simply don’t have the time to sift through multiple lines of code, teams, and repositories to understand the breadth and depth of risks associated with their cloud estate. Cloud security has to be looked at holistically to understand its true impact and threat to the organization.

That’s the difference with InsightCloudSec. We go beyond providing visibility to help organizations uncover the most critical threats facing their cloud ecosystem and provide guidance toward prioritization and response based on the true, holistic risk across multiple security domains. With a higher signal-to-noise ratio, development teams will be able to detect, understand, prevent, prioritize, and respond to threats better and faster, enabling them to build safely and efficiently in a multi-cloud environment.

Interested in learning more? Don’t hesitate to request a free demo!

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