As the world steps into a highly cloud-based IT environment, companies spend more and more time using cloud services rather than data centers. According to Gartner, worldwide end-user spending on cloud services is expected to grow by 20.7% to a total of around $591.8 billion this year — up from the $490.3 billion that was spent in 20221.
With more advanced technology solutions available, it’s tempting to think data security risks are shrinking. However, the cloud has its own challenges. Many organizations have fallen victim to cloud data breaches and malicious activity that leave them floundering and paying huge fines and ransoms.
To protect your company’s operations and sensitive data, cloud security controls must be in place. But what are cloud security controls, and how can they keep you safe from expensive, time-consuming threats? Continue reading for answers and to discover the best cloud security solutions for your organization.
What Are Cloud Security Controls?
Cloud security controls are the range of measures and best practices organizations take to protect their cloud environments and defend against breaches or possible hazards. They help businesses evaluate, deploy, and address information security. These security controls are a pivotal element in any cloud security strategy.
In order for cloud security operations to fulfill their full potential, they should be implemented as soon as your business migrates to the cloud — or even during this process. The purpose of cloud computing security is, ultimately, to make your cloud environments less vulnerable. To accomplish this, a variety of procedures and best practices must be followed to ensure things run smoothly. These guidelines can make up your cloud security controls.
4 Types of Cloud Security Controls
While there are numerous kinds of security controls that you can implement in your organization, most fall into four categories:
This information security measure is meant to keep malicious actors away from your cloud system. Deterrent controls inform any attackers that stealing data or engaging in suspicious activity will result in negative consequences. They act as a sort of warning system designed to steer threat actors away from important systems. For example, cloud service providers conduct criminal background checks on employees to show they’re staying vigilant for cybercrime and will take internal theft or leaks very seriously.
Preventive controls do exactly what they sound like: strengthen the cloud’s ability to fight off attacks. This includes removing security flaws, writing code that disables inactive ports, maintaining a robust user authentication system, and any other action that strengthens data or access guards. An example is having multifactor authentication to access information or enter a system.
Another type of cloud security control is detective controls — measures put in place to detect and respond to security threats and events. They are designed to identify any potential dangers to your cloud environment and appropriately react so your organization can resolve problems in a timely way. This type of security control includes intrusion detection software or security monitoring tools.
When an attack does happen, corrective controls kick into gear. They can limit the danger of widespread compromise with systems that can help reboot systems, back up data, and disconnect servers from the network. By having corrective controls in place, you’re more likely to reduce a malicious attack’s effect on your business.
The best type of cloud security includes all of these control types to ensure maximum protection for your organization. As you choose which controls to implement, there are several deployment models for launch.
Security Considerations for Cloud Deployment Models
Your deployment model decision really boils down to how much responsibility you’d like in protecting your cloud data and infrastructure. Most commonly, organizations opt for one of three deployment models:
Public cloud deployments
Public cloud infrastructures are designed for organizations that rely on a vendor’s infrastructure and physical IT network to run their cloud applications. But the business still owns its operating system, applications, and data, giving it the responsibility of public cloud security. If you choose a public cloud infrastructure, be aware of your role in keeping your information secure.
Private cloud deployments
If you opt for a private cloud deployment, you’re completely in control of your cloud hardware and software, which also brings the weight of securing your own data. Since it doesn’t matter where your data is hosted — either in your own data center or at a third-party location — you have the freedom to manage everything. This makes it extremely clear what security responsibilities fall on your shoulders.
Hybrid-cloud deployments let environments, data, and applications move back and forth between both private and public clouds, giving companies the ability to scale their public cloud usage to meet demand. If you’re making the switch from on-premises to cloud-based IT at a slower pace, this approach grants the flexibility to do so. When pursuing this deployment option, pay close attention to necessary hybrid cloud security controls so all your assets are protected.
Cloud Security Risks
Although cloud computing offered by cloud service providers is changing the way that businesses complete tasks and manage data, it isn’t risk free. According to a report done by Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), only 4% of 1,663 IT professionals had sufficient security for 100% of their data in the cloud. That means that 96% of organizations don’t have the necessary security to protect all of their sensitive data.
Some of the most common cloud computing pitfalls include:
In the days of physical data centers, it was easier to manage who came and went. Now, since cloud-based deployments are accessible through the internet, it’s harder to control who has access to your data. This makes it easier for an attacker to gain unauthorized entry to cloud-based resources.
When creating passwords for online accounts, it can be easy to assume hackers won’t target you. But weak passwords lead to thousands of phishing attacks and data breaches. Anyone with an employee’s credentials instantly has full access to sensitive information, which can be incredibly damaging.
Because most organizations choose a cloud resource outside their corporate network, the company doesn’t own the infrastructure, which can limit visibility. This may keep organizations from monitoring and protecting their cloud-based resources.
People who commit cybercrimes select their targets based on likely ransom or data sale profits — and they know what they’re doing. Because cloud-based infrastructure is directly available through the internet, this data has a target on its back. And if the breach is successful, it’s likely to happen again.
[Related Reading: The Top 5 Cloud Vulnerabilities to Watch Out for]
Establishing Cloud Security Controls
Knowing what potential threats you’re up against makes cloud security controls all the more important. But you shouldn’t jump headfirst into the cloud security pool without first knowing if you can swim. Ensure you stay afloat by having a set strategy in place.
As you create your cloud security strategy, here are some best practices to follow:
Look at your current cloud structure
Ensure you have an understanding of any cloud resource your team uses and what types of security are truly needed. Visibility is key for your team. When everyone knows what you’re using the cloud for, you can create a plan that will efficiently protect your efforts.
Build a security roadmap
Follow an attacker’s step-by-step process to cover every base — from deterrent to corrective controls. Leave nothing to chance by mapping out each phase and testing it against appropriate security protocols.
Choose a proven cloud security provider
Once you have identified what your organization needs and understood the various risks associated with your cloud computing services, pick a cloud security provider that can measure up.
As the industry’s first SaaS-enabled managed detection and response (MDR) provider, Fortra’s Alert Logic knows how to provide purpose-built technology and security solutions to identify and respond to risks and breaches.
Ready to ensure your most sensitive and important data remains secure? Request an MDR demo today.