How to Establish and Maintain Trust Across Multi-Cloud Environments

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Modern applications have transformed businesses and enterprises into digital innovation factories. As computing environments become more complex, there will inevitably be new security issues that will need to be addressed, especially when it comes to establishing and maintaining trust across multi-cloud environments. 

Tripwire recently surveyed cybersecurity professionals across industries such as manufacturing, energy, IT, and others about the security of their cloud infrastructure. Out of over 300 respondents, 73 percent said they are currently using a multi-cloud strategy, and an unsettling 98 percent of them said they face additional security challenges as a result. 

No matter what sector your organization belongs to, operating in a multi-cloud environment comes with its own set of cybersecurity concerns. Fortunately, there are several solutions for multi-cloud security issues that integrate security throughout the delivery lifecycle to help establish and maintain trust without compromising agility.

Multi-Cloud Environment Challenges

A multi-cloud security strategy is more complicated than single cloud, hybrid cloud, and on-premises cybersecurity needs. Different databases and applications are distributed across many clouds within a single network, each with its own architecture. A unified security model can be difficult to achieve in a multi-cloud environment, but there are serious risks that need to be addressed in multi-cloud network security:

  • Visibility: Multi-cloud security issues start with a lack of visibility into every layer of your computing tech stack. A cybersecurity risk assessment should be a regular occurrence in a multi-cloud architecture. 
  • Misconfigurations: Configuration errors in security and privacy settings when businesses migrate their workload to the cloud often leave companies unaware of their vulnerabilities.
  • User Access Management: Authorization and access control, a leading attack vector, becomes even more complicated with a multi-cloud strategy.
  • Patch Management: Staying up to date with the most recent updates and patching schedules in a multi-cloud architecture is a serious logistical challenge.
  • Compliance:Compliance regulations vary across borders and industries. In addition to numerous clouds, many security regulations must also be addressed to comply with HIPAA, HITECH, and PCI DSS.
  • Data Governance: Large amounts of data are being processed every day. Governance can be difficult to manage in any environment but is amplified by distributed cloud risks. 

All of these risks have far-reaching security impacts that could capsize small to midsize enterprises that become compromised. With so much on the line, organizations with multi-cloud environments need to focus on unified security models that integrate precautions throughout every stage of the product lifecycle. 

While traditional cybersecurity protocols are a good place to start, modern multi-cloud systems require robust solutions to protect against today’s cyber attacks

What is Zero Standing Privilege?

Zero Standing Privileges (ZSP) is a term coined by cybersecurity analysts that refers to an elevated version of privilege access management tools and zero-trust access models. Traditional access management solutions make sense for on-premises environments. But migrating to the cloud and adopting a multi-cloud security strategy requires a more agile approach to user access management. 

Zero Standing Privileges incorporate more broad privileges suited to a multi-cloud strategy. With persistent shared accounts, super users, third-party privileges that haven’t been offboarded, and requiring passwords to access all systems and applications, it makes sense that multi-cloud environments need a modern user access model.

Zero Standing Privileges reduce the attack surface in a multi-cloud environment by eliminating standing privileges that give always-on permissions to certain users and roles. Instead, ZSP principles like just-in-time access provisioning only provide access to data that is needed at the moment that it is necessary. 

Forward-looking organizations have begun to adopt a ZSP model as a part of their multi-cloud network security strategy by building it directly into the product lifecycle. 

How to Build Security Into Your Product Lifecycle

Creating reliable products, services, and applications is essential to the success of any given organization. There are many reasons why a multi-cloud strategy is the best choice for enterprises and smaller businesses alike, and integrating modern security protocols can ease the cybersecurity vulnerabilities that are inherent to multi-cloud environments. 

For example, the number of attacks has increased in the SaaS space since more companies rely on third-party vendors to handle their data. The Log4Shell vulnerability affected numerous organizations, causing the CIST to provide formal guidance to mitigate the problem.

Additionally, the steadily increasing IoT poses many security risks. Often these products have little to no built-in security, so organizations must rely on software security integrations or the security built into their network.

Here are five ways to build security into your product lifecycle:

1. Enforce Zero Standing Privileges

A well-executed ZSP model starts during production. Defining the interconnectivity needs of different platforms across multiple clouds starts during the continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. Building ZSP into the product lifecycle seems tedious but will reduce rework and other productivity impediments. When accounts are overprivileged, teams can’t do their jobs effectively. And as more users in the cloud are continually added, establishing ZSP will become a necessity.

In the wake of digital transformation, the need for access provisioning has grown substantially, especially for companies using hybrid and remote work models. But to reduce their attack surface, companies should eliminate standing privileges.

2. Adopt Virtualization Security 

With more data being stored and processed by virtual machines and multi-cloud networks, virtualization security can help keep your network safe. Deploying hardware-based network security solutions doesn’t make sense when all your data is in the cloud. A dynamic virtual security solution matches modern cloud infrastructure needs. 

Virtualization security is a software security solution that can be deployed anywhere on your network. This cloud-based solution is a great match for hybrid and multi-cloud environments since data and workloads often migrate throughout a complicated ecosystem. And there is zero need for hardware since the solutions run in the cloud. 

3. Rely on Cybersecurity Frameworks

To fill in the gaps of your existing cybersecurity architecture, lean on existing cybersecurity frameworks provided by leaders in the IT space. 

For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) promotes cybersecurity frameworks that support innovation. HIPAA standardizes how healthcare organizations handle sensitive personal information. And the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed a cybersecurity approach that can be applied across numerous sectors. 

Switching to a cloud security mindset can be a lot for teams to wrap their heads around, especially in a multi-cloud environment. If you’re not sure where to get started or if you have enough protection, look to these trusted cybersecurity frameworks to make sure that you are meeting customers’ and regulatory needs. 

4. Eliminate Misconfigurations

Cloud misconfigurations are a leading factor when it comes to cybersecurity vulnerabilities. One organization could have 25 cloud accounts with 15 different admins in addition to several users running instances and setting up services. Make identifying and eliminating misconfigurations a priority to shrink your organization’s attack surface.

To successfully eliminate configurations, companies can increase their visibility with managed cloud security solutions that can help you evaluate your need for transparency and discover misconfigurations. 

When misconfigurations are realized, it’s crucial to mitigate the problem as soon as possible. In many cases, misconfigurations will need to be re-deployed by a knowledgeable professional with experience in configuring multi-cloud environments. 

If you don’t have the in-house resources to discover and eliminate misconfigurations, there are many service providers that can help your company every step of the way to mitigate risks and prevent data loss during reconfiguration. 

5. Lean into DevSecOps

In most cases, DevOps are in charge of building a solution, while SecOps is responsible for creating security measures that fit the product. Since DevOps builds without security in mind, SecOps is limited to the solutions that can be enforced. And because SecOps is often seen as secondary to DevOps, teams are often blindsided by security issues later.

In a multi-cloud environment, things are complicated enough. By separating development and security teams, companies are putting themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to reducing time-to-market and adaptability. 

To avoid rework, streamline the product lifecycle, and build security into your process, lean into DevSecOps. A collaboration between DevOps and SecOps is crucial for designing better products with improved security features for the modern world. 

In general, the business attack surface is growing exponentially as companies migrate to the cloud and multi-cloud environments and deploy technologies such as predictive analytics and wireless sensors in the IoT. 

Don’t Compromise on Security

Companies that implement these five best practices will streamline their production and development, making it easier to create and deliver solutions faster than ever. The best part is that to develop great products quickly, you don’t have to compromise on security. 

Organizations need a security model that evolves with their company. Establishing trust in a multi-cloud environment with on-premises and hybrid solutions isn’t going to cut it. The added complexity of more than one cloud presents new vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.

By building security protocols into the product lifecycle, multi-cloud users can spend more time scaling their business and less time worrying about new attack vectors. Optimize your IT infrastructure with managed private cloud solutions that deliver performance and reliability without compromising on power.

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About the Author

Nick Campbell

Nick is the Senior Director of Security & Compliance at Liquid Web. He has over 20 years of experience in Technology and brings a wealth of knowledge and a strong understanding of data security to help safeguard our customers' environments.

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