As businesses increasingly rely on cloud computing to store and manage their data, cloud security has become a critical concern for IT leaders all over the world.
The rise of cyber threats and the damages it can incur can be fatal to organizations, if they are not careful.
According to IBM research, a single data breach can cost $4.35 million on average. This is why protecting sensitive data stored in the cloud is now more important than ever.
So if you’re an organization currently storing sensitive data in the cloud, it is essential to have a well-designed cloud security strategy.
In this article, we’ll discuss the key components of a cloud security strategy and provide examples of effective strategies. We will also discuss some of the crucial elements that should be included in a cloud security strategy.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to protect your data in the cloud.
What is cloud security strategy?
A cloud security strategy is a comprehensive plan that outlines an organization’s approach to securing its data and applications in the cloud.
A well-designed cloud security strategy includes a range of security measures such as access controls, encryption, monitoring, and incident response tailored to an organization’s specific needs. This, in turn, helps organizations ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their data in the cloud.
Importance of cloud security strategy
A cloud security strategy is crucial for organizations that use cloud services to store and manage their data. The cloud presents unique security challenges that require a proactive and comprehensive approach to mitigate risks.
Without an effective cloud security strategy in place, organizations are vulnerable to cyber threats, which can lead to data breaches, loss of revenue, and reputational damage.
A well-designed cloud security strategy can help organizations gain a competitive advantage by demonstrating a commitment to security and attracting customers who value data protection.
In short, a cloud security strategy is essential for any organization that wants to reap the benefits of cloud computing while keeping its data safe and secure.
How to create a cloud security plan for your organization?
Now that you know the importance of having a cloud security strategy, let’s discuss how to create a cloud security plan for your organization.
Step 1. Identification and classification of sensitive data
The first step in planning a cloud security strategy is to identify and classify your sensitive data. This involves identifying all the data that is critical to your organization and classifying it according to its sensitivity and risk level.
Sensitive data may include financial records, personal information, confidential business information, and intellectual property.
Once identified, the data should be classified based on its sensitivity and risk level. This will help you determine the appropriate security controls and measures needed to protect it in the cloud.
Step 2. Access and authentication controls
Access and authentication controls are essential components of a cloud security strategy. They help to ensure that only authorized users can access your organization’s data and applications in the cloud.
For the uninitiated, access controls usually involve setting up permissions and privileges for users and groups, while authentication controls involve verifying the identity of users before granting them access.
The best security measures for access control are strong passwords, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and role-based access control. These are all extremely effective measures and can help to ensure that only authorized users can access your organization’s data in the cloud.
Step 3. Data encryption and tokenization
Data encryption and tokenization are crucial components of a robust cloud security strategy.
Encryption involves converting data into an unreadable format using an encryption algorithm. This makes it difficult for unauthorized users to access and read the data.
Tokenization, on the other hand, involves substituting sensitive data with non-sensitive tokens. This helps protect the data in case of a security breach. Both encryption and tokenization are effective measures for protecting sensitive data in the cloud.
Step 4. Network security and segmentation
Network security refers to the protection of a network’s infrastructure and its associated systems and devices from unauthorized access, misuse, modification, or destruction. In cloud computing, network security is critical as organizations must secure their network from external and internal threats.
Network segmentation, on the other hand, limits the attack surface by ensuring that even if one part of the network is compromised, the rest of the network remains secure.
For instance, you could segment your network based on user roles or application types. By doing so, you can control access to sensitive resources and limit lateral movement in the event of a breach.
Step 5. Application security
Application security is another essential component of any cloud security plan. It involves securing applications hosted in the cloud against various threats such as SQL injection attacks, cross-site scripting, and session hijacking.
To ensure the security of applications, organizations should implement various security measures such as authentication and access control, encryption, and vulnerability management.
To ensure effective application security in the cloud, it is important to implement a multi-layered security approach that covers all aspects of the application’s lifecycle, from development and testing to deployment and maintenance.
This may involve using tools and techniques such as cloud security posture management, vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and code review to identify and address potential security threats.
Step 6. Incident response and disaster recovery
As the name suggests, incident response and disaster recovery involve planning for and responding to security incidents and disasters that could potentially impact the availability, integrity, or confidentiality of data stored in the cloud.
In order to address security incidents, it is important for organizations to form a Security Incident Response Team (SIRT) that can effectively coordinate the response and take predetermined steps to limit and minimize the impact of the incident.
Disaster recovery, on the other hand, involves developing a set of procedures for recovering from a disaster or service outage that impacts the availability of cloud services.
This may involve establishing a disaster recovery plan (DRP) that outlines the steps needed to recover from a disaster or service outage, including restoring data and systems, testing backups, and implementing redundant systems to ensure business continuity.
Step 7. Monitoring and auditing
Lastly, monitoring and auditing are equally important parts of the cloud security planning process.
Monitoring involves continuously monitoring the cloud environment for potential security threats and anomalous behavior. Auditing, on the other hand, involves conducting regular assessments of the cloud environment to ensure compliance with security policies and regulations.
By monitoring & auditing the cloud environment, organizations can identify and address potential security threats before they can cause harm to the system or data stored within it.
Elements of a cloud security strategy
As such, there are seven elements that you should know about while creating a strong cloud security strategy. Remember, your cloud security strategy shall contain several pre-breach and post-breach elements.
1. Identity and Access Management
Since companies need to control access to crucial information, it is important for them to utilize identity and access management (IAM). An IAM system controls who can access your data and applications, and what they can do with it. What’s more, cloud providers offer their own built-in IAM systems that they offer integrations to. Alternatively, you can also have the cloud integrate to your own IAM system
The second important element that should be a part of your cloud security strategy is visibility. Your security teams should always have visibility into your current cloud architecture, as a lack of it can quickly become a major concern. In case of a spike in demand, or a short-term project, the cloud will make it very easy to spin up new workloads.
Since cloud environments are not dynamic, lack of visibility into changes in your environment can cause your organization to be exposed to security vulnerabilities. Of course, it is not possible to protect what you are unable to see.
The importance of encrypting data for an organization can not be overstated. You must ensure that your data is securely encrypted when it is being used by the cloud servers, and when it is on the provider’s server. It is important to remember that very few cloud providers actually asseure data protection when your data is idle. You must have a strategy to secure your data, when it is in transit, on the servers, or being accessed by cloud-based applications.
More than anything else, encryption is an additional layer of security for the protections of your data assets. It ensures that your data is inaccessible to anyone who does not have the decryption key.
Micro-segmentation is a network security technique using which you can divide the data center into logically distinct security segments right down to the individual workload level. You can then define the security controls for each unique segment, and deliver services for each of them. Micro-segmentation is quite common in implementing cloud security, as it can help you isolate and minimize any damage caused by an attacker, if they are able to get access to your cloud.
When you are building a successful cloud security strategy, you will need to seriously consider automation and IAM policy management. To prevent any vulnerabilities, and timely prevention, it is highly recommended that you automate everything you can in your cloud environment. It can include leveraging serverless architecture, managing alerts to prevent fatigue, and narrowing down the focus of your security team on events that require your immediate attention.
6. Cloud security monitoring
Cloud security monitoring includes several processes that allow companies to manage and monitor the operational workflows of a cloud environment. Ideally, cloud security monitoring will combine manual and automated processes that can track the security of your servers, websites, applications, and software platforms.
When implemented properly, cloud security monitoring can help you maintain compliance, avoid business disruptions, discover vulnerabilities, and protect sensitive data. Additionally, you will also be able to leverage the continuous monitoring to decrease the risk of missing any threats or vulnerabilities.
Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM), is yet another tool that can help you identify and remediate risks across your cloud infrastructure. It can also help you proactively deal with any software configuration vulnerabilities, and compliance risks.
7. Secure Data Transfers
You must keep in mind that your data is especially vulnerable when it is in transit. While most cloud service providers encrypt the data that is being transferred as a rule, it is not always so. At the very least, you must ensure that your data is transferred over secure HTTP access, and is encrypted using SSL. Encryptions and decryptions basically ensure that all your data-related operations are completely secure.
Examples of cloud security strategy
NextBillion.ai is a leading Singapore-based mapping platform that helps enterprises utilize geospatial data to improve cost, scale, and user experience. The company experiences consistently regular data volumes, and has a diverse client base, which makes it even more important for it to secure its cloud environment, and help them run complex algorithms.
NextBillion.ai automated its cloud security and risk monitoring with Scrut, and has implemented continuous monitoring and testing for over 200+ CIS benchmarks. The company assigns fixes for any possible vulnerabilities and threats directly from the Scrut platform.
Freight Tiger’s digital freight network connects over 60+ shippers, and has emerged as a SaaS platform enabling seamless collaborations for all logistics stakeholders. The company decided to automate its cloud monitoring against 200+ controls using Scrut.
As a result, the fixes were highlighted on the platform, and misconfigurations reported to the DevOps team. With the help of Cloud Security, Freight Tiger is able to ensure continuous compliance and audit-readiness.
Ace your cloud security strategy!
Take the right step forward by securing your cloud environment with the help of an effective cloud security strategy. A cloud security strategy includes elements of identity and access management, visibility, encryption, automation and continuous monitoring. When implemented correctly, a cloud security strategy can help you prevent security breaches and get rid of vulnerabilities.
Cloud Security by Srcut Automation helps you secure and monitor your cloud environment. By continuously monitoring your cloud, and applying proactive fixes, you will be able to ensure compliance and security of your scaling cloud environment.
Cloud security strategy is the process of securing all the data, applications and assets that you run in your cloud environment. A comprehensive cloud security strategy will include several aspects such as access controls, encryption, micro-segmentation and more, required for it to function properly.
A cloud security strategy ensures that all the data and applications on your cloud are secured and protected against vulnerabilities. It can prevent data breaches, and safeguard your cloud from any major losses.
There are seven key elements of cloud security strategy — Identity and Access Management, Visibility, Encryption, Micro-segmentation, Automation, Cloud Security Monitoring, and secure data transfers.
Once your cloud security strategy is ready, it is a good idea to review all your digital assets, data, and security policies. You can then go ahead and implement your strategy on your cloud environment.
Cloud Security by Scrut Automation can help you fully secure your cloud environment. You can easily connect your cloud environment to the Scrut platform, and scan your assets and root accounts against 150+ CIS benchmarks. With Cloud Security, you can not only automate and strengthen the security of your cloud, but also customize your own security controls.