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No matter whether you intentionally store data in the cloud, your data is somewhere there due to applications you intentionally use like Salesforce or those your employees use without your permission. That’s why cloud security needs to be at the forefront of every IT decision you make.
Over 90% of surveyed businesses claimed that switching to the cloud improved security and made it easier to remain compliant.1 Despite this, security is still frequently cited as one of the main reasons why organizations that would otherwise benefit from transitioning to the cloud are hesitant to do so. We get it. Running workloads in someone else’s data center sounds like an inherently riskier proposition than handling things on-premises. But major cloud service providers, which must maintain the highest security standards for a variety of compliance requirements like HIPPA, DDS AND DPA, can do a better job of security than practically any other type of organization.
Cloud service providers aren’t perfect as breaches do occur, but the culprit is not necessarily going to be with the provider. It’s actually more likely that issues arise from their customers’ sub-par cloud architecture, regulatory compliance violations, poorly configured services, vulnerable APIs and inside attacks.
In other words, the strategies and architecture deployments of your internal team are often more impactful to your overall cloud security than insecure data centers. Optimizing your cloud architecture is the most impactful way to improve organizational cloud security. There are several ways you can do this, but first, let’s take a step back and define what cloud security is.
What is cloud security?
The joint responsibility of cloud providers and enterprise-level organizations, cloud security refers to the various technology solutions, processes, controls and policies implemented to ensure that your confidential data, customer privacy and other proprietary information is kept secure while stored on the cloud.
Key cloud security practices include access management, data encryption, threat monitoring, threat detection, threat remediation, penetration testing, datacenter security and regulatory compliance.
Cloud computing unlocks the ability to share instant, on-demand access to your network with authorized personnel regardless of their location. This is great for boosting employee productivity and supporting speedy collaboration, but it also exposes your organization to new risks. Access control solutions like multi-factor authentication help keep unauthorized users out while allowing your team to take advantage of streamlined access. Access control can be implemented through your cloud provider, but it can also be implemented as a fully customized access control system.
While cloud computing is typically secure, that doesn’t mean that threats don’t exist. Encrypting sensitive, confidential or proprietary data is a great safeguard to keep you protected in case of a data breach at your cloud provider’s data center. It is important to encrypt data both in transit and at rest. This ensures that you remain covered even when updating your systems or moving data between different locations.
Threat Monitoring, Detection and Remediation
At the end of the day, cloud security isn’t all that different from conventional cybersecurity. You want to implement controls and procedures for 24/7 threat monitoring, advanced threat detection and the eventual mitigation and remediation of anything that arises.
Another cybersecurity staple that is useful for cloud security is penetration testing. While conventional pen testing involves staging mock attacks on your physical and virtual systems, a cloud-oriented version focuses on highlighting potential areas of concern within your cloud infrastructure. In both cases, pen testing should be performed regularly to identify and shore up your vulnerabilities before they are identified by threat actors
Datacenter security is typically the domain of cloud providers rather than enterprise-level businesses, but it is still important to know what your responsibilities are. Different services like IaaS and PaaS have different security requirements that cannot be covered by a generic catch-all solution. Your provider should be able to explain the steps they’ve taken to prevent unauthorized access, ensure a continual power supply, and keep your data safe.
Regulatory and Legal Compliance
Due to the nature of cloud computing, where the physical data centers being used may be halfway across the world, regulatory and legal compliance are also important components of cloud security.
How can I enhance cloud security protocols within my organization?
The first step to enhancing your cloud security protocols is understanding your specific requirements. Cloud security is different from on-premise security, but it also varies based on provider too. Optimal Azure cloud security looks different than optimal AWS security, which in turn is different from the best solution for a custom, multicloud environment. Understanding the different security practices associated with each cloud provider makes it easier to develop a solution that keeps your data secure.
Cloud security certifications are a great way to build this knowledge, but there are lots of different options to choose from. Broadly speaking, these can be split into two categories:
- Vendor Specific Certs.
As the name suggests, vendor-specific cloud security certifications focus on building skills within a singular cloud platform like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) or Microsoft Azure. If your data is housed with a single cloud provider, it’s helpful to understand what that means for your security in specific, narrowly defined terms.
In the security courses for each cloud provider, you’ll learn how to protect your environment in their cloud. Courses like Security Engineering on AWS, Microsoft Azure Security Technologies, and Security in Google Cloud provide a wide overview of security controls for their clouds. Each cloud service provider offers different controls, so if your data is in a multicloud environment, you’ll need security training for each CSP.
- Vendor-Agnostic Certs
Alternatively, vendor-agnostic industry certifications focus on the more generalized, transferable aspects of cloud security. These are issued by nonprofit organizations like (ISC)2, ISACA and CompTIA and focus more on the big-picture aspects of cloud security. Some of the more popular certifications include Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM).
What are the best cloud security certifications?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to train members of your organization or trying to gain a competitive advantage as a job seeker, the best cloud certifications vary on a case-by-case basis. With that said, global trends toward multicloud environments have made IT pros with multiple security certifications very attractive to employers.
If you want to handle security for the cloud, it’s most important to take the security courses that your cloud provider offers as you will be needing to secure that environment. So, too, if you want to specialize in working with a certain technology, such as Kubernetes, you’ll want to take some of the various Kubernetes security courses.
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