Last updated at Wed, 07 Sep 2022 14:01:53 GMT

Cloud complexity is now a well-documented and widely felt phenomenon across technology teams — IT, development, and security alike. Multi-cloud architectures have become the norm, with 89% of organizations embracing a strategy that involves multiple cloud vendors. Not only are companies managing greater amounts of data than ever before, they're also spread across an ever-increasing array of cloud services, applications, and devices.

Securing all this information and preventing data loss in a multi-cloud environment would be a tall task for any security team. Add to the mix an increasingly heightened threat landscape and an ongoing cybersecurity skills shortage, and the challenge becomes even greater.

Rapid7, Mimecast, and Netskope recently published a joint white paper outlining best practices for cloud data protection and pinpointing some key resources that organizations can leverage in this effort. Here are three key concepts the paper highlights.

1. Embrace AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are well-known technologies at this point, but their potential is only just beginning to be tapped when it comes to helping security teams become more efficient and more effective.

Examples of AI-based tools that can help security teams include curated detections within an extended detection and response (XDR) platform, as well as intelligent threat and anomaly detection within cloud security tools.

Machine learning won't ever replace the trained eye and keen insight of a veteran cybersecurity analyst — but AI-based tools can take on some of the repetitive and time-consuming tasks that security pros face, allowing analysts to increase productivity and focus on the alerts and issues that matter most. The goal is human-machine collaboration, with AI augmenting and boosting the capabilities of the analyst.

2. Utilize automation

Automation and AI work together as a one-two punch of process improvement for security. If an AI-based tool detects an anomalous event, automation allows you to set up actions that can take place in response to that suspicious activity. This can help get the ball rolling faster on mitigating security issues — and speed is the name of the game when it comes to keeping out attackers.

In the context of a cloud security platform, built-in automation and remediation tools let you create bots that can carry out certain tasks, specified by:

  • Scope: What resources the bot should evaluate — i.e., specific cloud resource groups, or certain types of resources contained in those groups
  • Filters: The conditions in which a bot should act — e.g., what tags the resource has, or whether the ports are open
  • Actions: What task you want the bot to carry out — e.g., delete a resource, start or stop an instance, or send an email with key information about the resource in question

3. Leverage integrations

AI and automation can help drive efficiencies — but with a multitude of cloud services in play, there's a risk that these automated actions proliferate and become unwieldy, making it tough for security teams to reap the full benefits. This is where integrations become critical: They allow teams to coordinate actions quickly and seamlessly across multiple vendor systems.

Integrations make it easier to create a holistic security environment formed by a consistent set of controls, rather than a patchwork of best practices. For example, if you have an integration that links your email security gateway to your security information and event management (SIEM) tool, you can create an alert when a user receives an email containing suspected ransomware or malware, and take automated remediation actions instantly. Or if your security service edge (SSE) platform detects a serious data exfiltration risk, you can build a customized workflow in your security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) to quarantine that resource or take it offline.

Dive deeper on cloud data protection

Keeping data secure in the cloud comes with its share of challenges, but integrations that leverage AI-based analytics and automated workflows can help you ensure you know where your data is, what security controls are in place, and what threats there might be in your environment.

Looking to go deeper on how to bring this vision to life? Download the white paper today, or join experts from Mimecast, Netskope, and Rapid7 for the webinar "Data Protection and Control in the Cloud" at 2pm EST on Tuesday, September 13.

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