Cloud computing has been a game-changer for businesses, providing unparalleled scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. With such value, the number of cloud users will only rise. According to Gartner, the global cloud security services market was worth $490 billion in 2022 and could be higher in 2023 at around $592 billion.
But as cloud computing services become more popular, cloud security has become a growing concern. As companies migrate to the cloud, they must prioritize the safety of their data, applications, and infrastructure to prevent breaches and cyber attacks.
A recent survey found that about 83% of organizations that use these services have had some kind of security breach. Even more alarming is that 43% of the companies reported 10 or more violations around the same time. Therefore, this article will discuss cloud security best practices for 2023 to assist organizations in protecting their data and infrastructure.
What Is Cloud Security, Exactly?
The policies, technologies, and procedures that keep data, apps, and infrastructure safe in the cloud are called “cloud security.” It all comes down to protecting data while it is in motion, at rest, and in use, as well as from cyber attacks, unauthorized access, and other threats.
Organizations can use different cloud security models to keep their cloud infrastructure safe. Here are some of the most common models:
Shared Responsibility Model
The shared responsibility model is a popular cloud security model that shows the cloud service provider (CSP) and the customer their respective security responsibilities. In this model, the CSP is in charge of making sure the cloud infrastructure is safe. At the same time, it is up to the customer to protect the data, applications, and workloads they host in the cloud. The exact division of responsibility between the CSP and the customer depends on the cloud service used.
Zero Trust Model
The zero-trust model is a security framework that assumes that all resources, whether they are inside or outside the organization’s perimeter, are not to be trusted. Access to resources depends on the user’s identity, the device used, and the device’s security posture. The zero-trust model stops threats from spreading laterally and limits how bad a security breach could be.
Defence in Depth Model
The in-depth defence model is a security strategy that uses multiple layers of security controls to protect against a wide range of threats. In this model, security controls are put in place at the network, application, and data layers, among others. The goal is to have multiple layers of security that work together to make up for any flaws in any one layer.
Cloud Access Security Broker Model
The Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) model is a security solution that sits between the organization’s on-premises infrastructure and the cloud service provider. The CASB acts as a gatekeeper, ensuring that security policies are followed and that cloud resources are visible. CASBs can enforce access controls, stop data loss, find security incidents, and deal with them.
Cloud Security Risks in 2024
As more and more businesses use cloud services, the risks that come with cloud security are constantly changing. Here are some of the most significant cloud security risks in 2024:
With the increasing amount of sensitive data stored in the cloud, cyber-attacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated. Cybercriminals use various methods to gain access to cloud resources. This includes phishing, ransomware, and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
Misconfigured Cloud Services
A misconfiguration happens when a company doesn’t set up its cloud services in a way that follows best practices for security. This leaves the infrastructure vulnerable to attack. Misconfigured cloud services can lead to data breaches, account takeovers, and other security incidents.
Misconfigured cloud services can take any of these forms:
- Leaving default login credentials in place
- Failing to patch systems
- Not implementing proper access controls
Insider threats occur when employees or other individuals with access to an organization’s systems and data use that access to cause harm. This could be intentional or unintentional. Insider threats can take many forms, such as stealing data, leaking private information, or messing with systems critical to the business.
Insiders who access sensitive information can use that information for personal gain or harm the organization. They could also cause damage by accident by clicking on a malicious link or falling for a phishing scam.
Compliance and Regulatory Issues
Compliance rules can be different for different industries and data types stored or processed. For example, organizations that handle credit card information must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Similarly, there are also industry-specific standards that organizations may need to comply with. These include ISO standards, which provide guidelines for information security management.
To comply with these regulations and standards, organizations must ensure that their cloud infrastructure and data management practices meet the requirements outlined in the regulations. This could mean putting in place certain security controls, like encryption or access controls, or making sure that data is stored and managed according to specific rules.
Organizations may use multiple third-party services, and the security of these services can be a risk to the organization. Third-party service providers must be vetted and monitored to ensure that they have appropriate security controls.
Cloud Security Best Practices
Organizations need to use a multilayered approach to cloud security to reduce the risks that come with it. Here are some best practices that organizations can follow to secure their cloud resources:
Use Strong Authentication and Authorization
Authentication and authorization are critical components of cloud security. Authentication is making sure a user is who they say they are, and authorization is deciding what actions a user can take. This involves using strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, and role-based access control. These steps make sure that only people who are allowed to can access a company’s cloud infrastructure and data.
Encryption is the process of coding information so that only people who are supposed to be able to read it can do so. It is a critical aspect of cloud security, as it helps to protect data both when it is in transit and when it is at rest.
Organizations can use a variety of different encryption technologies and mechanisms.
- Disk encryption to protect data stored on disks
- Database encryption protects data stored in databases
- File-level encryption protects individual files or data objects
Regularly Test for Vulnerabilities
Regularly testing cloud resources for vulnerabilities is critical to preventing cyberattacks. Organizations should conduct regular vulnerability scans and penetration tests.
To regularly test for vulnerabilities in the cloud, organizations can take the following steps:
- Conduct regular, automated scanning to identify misconfigurations and compare the environment against a database of vulnerabilities.
- Conduct cloud penetration testing to determine resistance levels and identify vulnerabilities that could potentially be exploited.
- Conduct a cloud security assessment to identify security risks and vulnerabilities in the cloud environment.
Implement Security Monitoring and Alerting
Security monitoring and alerts can help identify and deal with security problems quickly. For example, organizations can keep an eye on security and send out effective alerts using various tools and technologies. These include:
- Security information and event management (SIEM) systems
- Intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS)
- Endpoint detection and response (EDR) systems
These systems can be configured to monitor specific security events, such as failed login attempts, unusual network traffic patterns, or suspicious user behaviour.
Implement Least Privilege Access
Least privilege access ensures that users only have access to the things they need to do their jobs. This approach helps prevent unauthorized access and reduces the risk of insider threats.
To implement the principle of least privilege, organizations typically take one or some of the following steps, as part of a broader defence-in-depth cybersecurity strategy:
- Audit the full environment to locate privileged accounts
- Implement role-based access control (RBAC)
- Identify and remove inactive user accounts
- Assign the appropriate permissions to users based on their job requirements
Regularly Back Up Data
If you back up your data regularly, you’ll be able to retrieve it in case of a data breach or other disaster. Organizations should have a disaster recovery plan in place that includes regular backups.
Secure Your Cloud Base with Softlanding’s Managed IT Services
It is important to note that cloud security is not a one-time effort but an ongoing process. Therefore, organizations must keep looking at cloud security and changing their security strategies to keep up with new threats.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the complexities of cloud security? Worry no more, as Softlanding has your back. With Softlanding’s managed IT security services, you can get round-the-clock monitoring plus professional guidance on keeping your cloud security up to date. We’ll work together to find any security gaps or ways to improve things. We’ll also make sure your organization is safe from the newest threats.
Contact us today and take the next step toward a secure, agile, and cost-effective cloud infrastructure.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the key components of cloud security in 2024?
In 2024, cloud security revolves around robust authentication and authorization mechanisms, advanced encryption techniques, regular vulnerability assessments, continuous security monitoring, and the principle of least privilege access, among others.
How has cloud security evolved since the previous years?
Cloud security has seen significant advancements over the years, with the integration of AI-driven security tools, more sophisticated encryption methods, and a greater emphasis on proactive measures like real-time monitoring and regular vulnerability testing.
What role does multi-factor authentication play in cloud security best practices for 2024?
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) remains a cornerstone of cloud security in 2024. It adds an extra layer of protection by requiring users to provide two or more verification factors, ensuring that even if one factor is compromised, unauthorized access is still prevented.
How often should organizations conduct vulnerability assessments and penetration tests in 2024?
While the frequency may vary based on the organization’s size and nature of data, it’s recommended in 2024 to conduct regular, automated scanning for vulnerabilities and to perform penetration tests at least annually or after significant infrastructure changes.
Why is the principle of least privilege access emphasized in 2024’s cloud security best practices?
The principle of least privilege access remains vital in 2024 because it minimizes the risk of insider threats and unauthorized access. By ensuring users only have access to what they need, organizations can reduce potential attack vectors and maintain tighter control over their cloud resources.
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