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Key considerations for a secure cloud infrastructure

If your organization isn’t already using the cloud today, you will likely be soon. Gartner says that “More than half of enterprise IT spending in key market segments will shift to the cloud by 2025.” But cloud security is a crucial concern for any organization, given recent headlines. And, with cloud cybersecurity becoming even more complex with hybrid- or multi-cloud infrastructures, it’s hard to know where you should focus your efforts.

In this post, I’ll share what you should consider as you build out your secure cloud infrastructure and how managed cloud services should be among those considerations.

Understand that cloud cybersecurity is your top priority

A quick scan of the top 5 recent cloud breaches clarifies that cloud data is at risk, and even global giants like Verizon aren’t immune. It’s important to note that cloud service providers follow a shared security responsibility model. Unfortunately, the line between your cloud providers’ security responsibilities and yours may not be clear. That’s why it is essential to define where that line is drawn.

You will need to be cognizant of the fine print provided by these cloud leviathans. You will find text stating in various terms that they are responsible for protecting the infrastructure that runs them, but that the customer owns its own data and is responsible for protecting the security of it, and identities, on-premises resources, and the cloud components. That is a huge gap in their services, even if clearly stated.

To sum it all up, you need to make cloud cybersecurity your top priority. So, ask your cloud provider detailed security questions so you can fill in any data protection and secure cloud infrastructure gaps that they don’t cover.

Strengthen your cybersecurity defenses

The next consideration for securing your cloud infrastructure surrounds technology investments. Given the complexities of today’s ever-evolving threats, it’s well worth looking at outsourcing your cybersecurity efforts.

A good starting point is to add an identity and access management solution that lets you enforce access policies based on least privilege—including role-based permissions. Multi-factor authentication adds another line of defense for your cloud data. And moving toward a zero-trust security model further strengthens your security posture.

Whatever the level of security is that makes sense for your organization, the time to start strengthening your defenses is now.

Set policies and teach your team about secure cloud infrastructure

Your organization needs written policies that specify who can access cloud services, how those services can be used, and what data can be stored in the cloud. Your policies should also specify which security technologies your team is required to use to protect cloud data and modern applications. A zero trust model also comes into play, as your policies define who can access data.

With guidelines in place, educating your team should be another top consideration. That’s because 85% of breaches involve the human element. Whether you choose a partner to provide cybersecurity awareness training or build your own program, everyone needs to understand their role in preventing data breaches. Training also helps ensure you comply with regulatory requirements while protecting your organization from costly downtime and data loss.

Ensure all your data is encrypted

Encryption is a critical component of your cloud security strategy. You need to ensure all your data is encrypted—whether stored in a public cloud, your data center, or in transit. It’s best to look for encryption technologies that will work seamlessly with your existing processes, so your team doesn’t need to do anything different to comply with your encryption policies.

Implement audits, penetration testing, and security logs

Regular security audits help you stay a step ahead of evolving threats by identifying weaknesses within your infrastructure, including your cloud data protection.

A quarterly vulnerability scan can give you an accurate assessment of your vulnerabilities and security policy enforcement measures. Accurately and systematically documenting your cybersecurity efforts can be a big help in meeting compliance requirements.

Penetration testing is another way to verify the strength of your defenses. Intentionally launching simulated cyberattacks—also known as ethical hacking—using the strategies and tools that hackers employ, helps identify vulnerabilities that expose your organization to security risks.

It’s worth enabling automated logging features for your cloud solutions, too. That gives your system admins the ability to track changes users have made to your infrastructure.

So, if a hacker gets into your network and starts making changes, your logs can alert you to what’s going on so you can begin remediation.

Logging also helps identify misconfigurations that can expose vulnerabilities. Going back to least access privileges, logging identifies individual users who may have greater access than needed, helping admins adjust access permissions to the minimum necessary for the user to do their job.

More options, more answers

There are plenty of other cloud security tools and services to consider as you weigh your risks—and the cost of data loss and downtime—against your other IT priorities. Other outsourced options include endpoint protection, intrusion detection and response, and patch management and monitoring.

Ultimately, working with a trusted partner that understands secure cloud infrastructure is your best bet for keeping your data safe.

To learn more about the ins and outs of moving your business to the cloud, read this post by our CEO.

Thank you for trusting us to help with your cybersecurity needs.

Contact us any time—we’re always happy to help.

Jon

Meet the Author
Jon Bolden is Quest's Certified Information Systems Security Officer
Contact Quest Today  ˄
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