Moving to the hybrid cloud involves integrating your on-premises infrastructure with public and private cloud environments. While a hybrid cloud offers flexibility and scalability, it also introduces online security challenges that need to be addressed to ensure the protection of your network, data, and applications.
Different Types of Clouds
We see the term Cloud used freely in the media. However, there are at least three types of Cloud.
This is where and organisation uses Cloud technologies and techniques in it’s own infrastructure.
This is the model most often used by hosted service providers such as Google and Amazon. Organisations rent space on external infrastructure owned and managed by a third party.
A hybrid cloud is a combination of the two. For online security reasons, an organisation might want to keep confidential data and processes securely on-site in a Private Cloud, but for operational and external access reasons use Public Cloud storage for other applications, such as a corporate website or a Business Continuity backup of systems and data.
Clouds Security Considerations
Using public and hybrid clouds brings security issues with it. There are two main problems:
- Your systems and data are held on infrastructure owned and operated by a third party; and
- The cloud or clouds are accessible remotely and are therefore open to attack and potential data theft. You do not control the security environment in which your systems and data reside and you should be concerned about threats, both external to the host, and from the host itself.
Online Security for Hybrid Cloud Based Environments
Here are some steps to secure online security during and after your move to the hybrid cloud:
- Assess your security requirements: Begin by evaluating your current security measures and identifying any gaps or weaknesses. Understand the specific security requirements of your applications and data to determine the level of protection needed in the hybrid cloud environment.
This will be a multi-departmental exercise. Departments will need to assess their security and confidentiality needs and advise accordingly.
- Understand shared security responsibilities: If you’re using a public cloud provider, familiarize yourself with their shared security model. Recognize the security responsibilities that lie with the cloud provider and those that are your organization’s responsibility. This will help you understand the areas where you need to focus your efforts.
- Implement strong access controls: Establish robust access controls to ensure that only authorized individuals can access your systems and data. Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) for user accounts and enforce strong password policies. Utilize role-based access controls (RBAC) to grant permissions based on job roles and responsibilities.
- Encrypt data in transit and at rest: Protect your data by encrypting it both during transmission and when it’s at rest. Use only secure communication protocols like HTTPS for data transmission and encrypt data stored in the cloud using encryption keys that you control.
The encryption of data stored on a public cloud is essential to protect it from theft by the host.
- Implement network segmentation: Segment your network to isolate different parts of your infrastructure and applications. This helps to contain any potential breaches and limits the lateral movement of attackers. Implement firewalls and network security groups to enforce traffic rules between segments.
- Monitor and log activities: Implement a robust logging and monitoring system to track activities across your hybrid cloud environment. Monitor for suspicious behaviour, such as unauthorized access attempts or unusual data transfers. Regularly review logs to detect and respond to security incidents promptly.
- Conduct regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing: Perform regular vulnerability assessments and penetration tests to identify any security weaknesses in your infrastructure and applications. Address any identified vulnerabilities promptly to minimize the risk of exploitation.
One area that is often missed is that of desktop and mobile security. Data can be imported via flash drives or smart devices. The connectivity of such devices needs to be controlled, and any data imported from them, be quarantined and scanned for malware before being made available.
A similar consideration lies around online data storage such as Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive. Sensitive data could be uploaded to them for later retrieval and unauthorised use.
- Implement data backup and disaster recovery: Ensure you have a comprehensive data backup and disaster recovery plan in place. Regularly back up your data and test the restoration process to ensure its integrity. Consider leveraging cloud-based disaster recovery services for faster recovery in case of an incident.
- Stay up to date with patches and updates: Regularly apply security patches and updates to your hybrid cloud infrastructure, including operating systems, applications, and security software. Outdated software can have known vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers.
- Educate and train your employees: Security awareness training is crucial to mitigate the risk of human error or social engineering attacks. Educate your employees about security best practices, such as identifying phishing emails, using strong passwords, and being cautious with sharing sensitive information.
- Engage a trusted cloud service provider: If you’re working with a cloud service provider, choose a reputable and trusted provider that prioritizes security. Review their security certifications, compliance standards, and data protection policies to ensure they align with your requirements.
Remember that securing your move to the hybrid cloud is an ongoing process. Regularly assess and update your security measures to address new threats and vulnerabilities as they