Hybrid cloud computing is a “best of both worlds” approach made up of on-premises infrastructure, private cloud services, and a public cloud – such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform (GCP) – with orchestration among the various platforms. Additionally, from a pure security perspective, hybrid cloud setups can also allow organizations to enjoy the advantages of cloud computing while still retaining a greater measure of control and protection.
There is one important question for CISOs and other leaders to ask, however: Do you have the right processes in place to ensure optimal security within on-premises/public/private cloud environments? This can make the difference between operating smoothly — and suffering a devastating data breach that places your entire organization at risk.
To help keep you in the former category, let’s take a closer look at some hybrid cloud security best practices that can help you avoid some worst possible outcomes.
The Most Pressing Hybrid Cloud Security Challenges
It’s important to recognize that third-party cloud providers are not on an island in terms of providing protection. Hybrid cloud security is a joint effort between cloud providers and the organizations that patronize them. Securing the hybrid cloud infrastructure may be the purview of the provider, but data security is a mutual responsibility. Effectively managing access policies, configurations and encryption are all part of the bargain.
Unfortunately, many organizations are doing a sub-optimal job of managing these responsibilities. A recent report compiled by Digital Guardian showed that 50-percent of companies using public or hybrid clouds report losing data. Three-quarters of those respondents say up to 20-percent of their data stored in the cloud is not appropriately protected.
To right these wrongs, it’s imperative to have a well-conceived strategy for securing your multi-cloud environments — one that is built on a core of best practices.
Key Cloud Security Best Practices
Let’s examine some of the most relevant best practices to follow in the realm of hybrid cloud security.
- Secure all endpoints with proper protection
- Use external storage to back up critical data
- Ensure that access privileges are tightly controlled
- Use automation whenever possible
- Encrypt data that passes through the public cloud
- Understand how a change in one area can create new vulnerabilities in other areas. Failing to do this is a primary cause of misconfigurations.
- Develop a business continuity plan to minimize the threat of downtime
Securing the hybrid cloud begins with adherence to best practices, but that’s not the full picture. Deployment of the right hybrid cloud security solutions is a crucial supporting step — one that can help ensure that attacker ingenuity or human fallibility doesn’t compromise your most valuable assets.
How to Choose the Right Hybrid Cloud Security Platform
One of the hallmarks of the cloud is its complexity. This can present problems in a cybersecurity context because in rapidly changing environments it becomes easier for new vulnerabilities to pop up. For example, running a point-in-time manual penetration test to identify vulnerabilities has limited utility when you’re dealing with cloud environments that are ever-shifting and where one seemingly small change can create a cascade of new security gaps.
The key to maintaining a secure posture is visibility. It’s important to be able to peer deeply into all security environments and to have a process or solution in place that surfaces new vulnerabilities as they emerge.
XM Cyber’s attack path management platform was specifically designed to provide this level of visibility within multi-cloud environments. It works by simulating continuous attacks against your environments, ceaselessly rooting out vulnerabilities, and mimicking the tactics and attack paths most likely to be used by adversaries. Our technology minimizes the risk created from constant change and greatly reduces the threat presented by misconfigurations, unpatched vulnerabilities, overly permissive identities and human error.
While other vulnerability or risk management products offer limited insight into risk or are not optimized for the hybrid cloud, XM Cyber shines a powerful light on how attackers could exploit cyber exposures in an on-premises network to reach critical assets in the cloud or vice-versa. No other tool in its category is more effective at limiting the risk to business-critical systems.
Smart application of best practices and the right software tools can help you reap the advantages of hybrid cloud setups without worrying about bad outcomes and allow you to confidently migrate to the cloud. XM Cyber has developed the ideal technology for securing multi-cloud environments, and we urge you to take a closer look.
Hezi Nagar is Customer Operations Manager at XM Cyber