As the pace of digital transformation accelerates to meet customer and operational demands, data and application software are being spread across multi-cloud environments. While cloud computing enables organizations to significantly expand their capabilities, enhance productivity, and boost operational efficiency, it also can create new security vulnerabilities for hackers.
89% of organizations say the use of microservices, containers, and Kubernetes makes it more difficult to secure multi-cloud environments. Now more than ever, organizations need a comprehensive and effective multi-cloud security strategy.
[Related Reading: What Is Multi-cloud?]
What is Multi-cloud Security?
Multi-cloud security is an approach that enables businesses to protect data, applications, and other virtualized assets spread across a multi-cloud environment. These environments are highly complex, meaning IT teams must navigate a large number of distinct tools, systems, and processes to maintain security across their entire cloud infrastructure. These challenges are only expected to grow as 87% of organizations have adopted a multi-cloud strategy.
The Benefits of Multi-cloud Security
Agility, flexibility, and innovation are critical drivers of success in today’s business environment. Organizations are increasingly deploying to the cloud to optimize business processes, support virtual and hybrid work environments, and create more value for their customers. While there are different considerations when it comes to utilizing single- or multi-cloud environments, it’s clear that cloud migration is a priority for most organizations.
Some main benefits of deploying to a multi-cloud environment include:
- More cloud options: Spreading data across multiple clouds allows you to select multiple providers based on how their strengths match specific areas of your business.
- Facilitate scalability: Outsourcing critical workflows and business functions to the cloud keeps you from building the requisite physical infrastructure in-house.
- Switch vendors at will: You can avoid restrictive lock-in policies in a multi-cloud environment, enabling you to switch cloud providers if your initial provider no longer meets your requirements.
- Stay resilient in the face of disruption: Spreading your data and applications across multiple clouds means an outage in one area will remain localized. Your business operations mostly will not be affected, limiting the impact on your organization.
Key Multi-cloud Security Threats to Consider
Cloud service providers are only responsible for securing the cloud itself, meaning several security challenges could emerge if organizations don’t properly maintain security within the cloud. This issue becomes more challening when working with multiple cloud providers. Common multi-cloud security challenges include:
- Lack of visibility: Third-party service providers usually handle cloud security, and each one may have its own approach to cloud security. Not only does that make the security process more complicated for your in-house team, but it also causes them to lose visibility over parts of your cloud environment.
- Appropriate privileged credentials: If you operate across multiple cloud environments, most of your employees will need access to more than one cloud. Moreover, remote work means employees access data from a larger number of devices and locations, many of which can be difficult to secure.
- Complexity breeds inconsistency: Cloud security often is handled within the cloud itself, using tools created by the provider. While this can streamline the security process within each cloud, it means there is a lack of a consistent set of tools, processes, and approaches across your entire cloud environment.
- Inconsistent upgrades: Cloud systems constantly evolve and update. While these updates improve functionality, they also open potential security vulnerabilities. It is difficult to keep track of the full suite of upgrades across clouds. Without the visibility required to maintain constant oversight, new security vulnerabilities may go unnoticed.
- Data governance: Multi-cloud environments are most advantageous when they enable employees to access and exchange data across different clouds. This level of data exchange can be extraordinarily high, and lacking proper data governance processes and procedures can expose your data to risk.
Multi-cloud Security Best Practices
There are several steps organizations can take to optimize their multi-cloud security strategies. In fact, Gartner found that 99% of cloud security issues through 2025 will be due to oversights on the customer’s part. This represents an enormous opportunity for the enterprise to enhance security in its multi-cloud environment.
Automate end-to-end security processes
An effective way to enhance multi-cloud security is to automate your entire security process. This maximizes your threat detection and incident response processes while minimizing the chance of costly mistakes. To get the most from automation, identify repetitive, manual tasks to streamline so your security team’s focus can be on threat analysis and response.
Threat actors constantly evolve their capabilities to better exploit security vulnerabilities and penetrate host systems. It’s important to automate your ongoing monitoring processes to ensure any new security gaps are immediately identified and patched.
Maintain contact with cloud service providers
Different cloud service providers have varying toolsets, policies, and processes to maintain data security. From the enterprise standpoint, this can result in a highly inconsistent cybersecurity approach, which can easily lead to costly oversight. Ensure you fully understand your cloud service provider’s policies to be certain they align with your needs and requirements.
You also need to understand both you and your cloud service provider’s security obligations from their shared responsibility model.
Consider security before building your infrastructure
It can be difficult for your security team to keep up with the rapid pace of cloud deployment. Many developers overlook cybersecurity when building new software applications in the cloud. Not only can this cause security vulnerabilities to become embedded in the cloud architecture and go undetected, but it also may increase the cost of remediating those vulnerabilities.
Consider cybersecurity at the point of design, fully evaluating your cloud applications to identify possible attack vectors and implement built-in security procedures. Additionally, undertake a robust security testing process at every stage of development to prevent security gaps from forming.
Invest in the right security tools
It’s a serious challenge for security professionals to maintain visibility and enforce a consistent security policy across a multi-cloud environment. Invest in cloud security solutions that synchronize all your security tools and cloud-based data in a single location to easily maintain visibility over all security information and analysis.
Your security tools should allow you to customize your security policy to match the requirements and limitations of each individual cloud provider. By doing this, you maximize the level of effectiveness of your security posture within each private and public cloud.
How Fortra’s Alert Logic Can Help
Our team of security experts provides you the tools, knowledge, and expertise you need to protect your multi-cloud environments. Schedule a demo today to learn more.