Everything you need to know about multi-cloud security

As the pace of digital transformation accelerates and businesses grow increasingly complex to meet modern customer and operational demands, it’s becoming more common to spread data and application software across multiple cloud environments. While cloud computing has enabled organizations to significantly expand their capabilities, enhance productivity and boost operational efficiency, it’s also opened new security vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit.

According to data from Dynatrace, 89% of organizations say the growing use of microservices, containers and Kubernetes has made it more difficult to secure multi-cloud environments. It’s clear that the need for organizations to devise a comprehensive and effective multi-cloud security strategy is more important than ever.

[Related Reading: What Is Multi-Cloud?]

What is multi-cloud security?

Multi-cloud security is a cybersecurity approach that enables businesses to protect data, applications and other virtualized assets spread across a multi-cloud environment. Multi-cloud environments are highly complex, and that means 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. More than half of organizations intend to migrate their workloads to the cloud, according to data from Flexera.

The benefits of multi-cloud security

Agility, flexibility and innovation are all critical drivers of success in the modern business environment. Organizations are increasingly deploying to the cloud to help them optimize business processes, support virtual and hybrid work environments, and ultimately 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 has become a priority for most organizations.

Some of the main benefits of deploying to a multi-cloud environment include:

  • More cloud options: Spreading your data across multiple clouds allows you to select multiple cloud providers based on how well 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, allowing you to devote more resources to growth and innovation.
  • Switch vendors at will: You can avoid restrictive lock-in policies in a multi-cloud environment, enabling you to switch cloud providers whenever your initial provider is no longer able to meet your business 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 will stay mostly unaffected, limiting the impact of outages to your organization.

An effective multi-cloud security strategy enables organizations to realize each of the above benefits without risking data exposure and loss.

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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. These are maximized when working with multiple cloud providers.

Common multi-cloud security challenges include:

  • Lack of visibility: Cloud security is often handled by third-party service providers themselves, and each one usually has its own unique approach to cloud security. Not only does that make the security process even more complicated for your in-house security team, but it also causes them to lose visibility over parts of your cloud environment.
  • Appropriate privileged credentials: If you’re operating across multiple cloud environments, most of your employees are going to need access to more than one cloud. Moreover, the transition to remote/hybrid work environments also means they’re accessing data from a larger number of devices and locations, many of which will be difficult for you to secure.
  • Complexity breeds inconsistency: Cloud security is often handled within the cloud itself, using tools created by the service provider. While this does help 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 are constantly evolving and undergoing updates. 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, and without the visibility required to maintain constant oversight, new security vulnerabilities can easily 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, representing an enormous opportunity for the enterprise to enhance security in its multi-cloud environment.

Automate end-to-end security processes

One of the most effective ways to enhance multi-cloud security is to automate your entire security process. This maximizes your threat detection and incident response processes while minimizing the chances of costly mistakes.

To get the most from automation, identify the repetitive, manual tasks that can be streamlined so your security teams can focus more time on threat analysis and response.

As cloud technologies become more advanced and cloud deployment intensifies, malicious actors are evolving their capabilities to better exploit security vulnerabilities and penetrate host systems. For that reason, 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

As mentioned, different cloud service providers have varying toolsets, policies and processes they use to maintain data security. From the enterprise standpoint, this can result in a highly inconsistent cybersecurity approach, which can easily lead to costly oversight. Make sure you fully understand your cloud service provider’s cybersecurity policies to ensure they align with your needs and requirements.

It’s also important to take the time to understand both you and your cloud service provider’s security obligations in your shared responsibility model to know where possible gaps may arise, allowing you to take proactive mitigation steps from the outset.

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 often overlook cybersecurity when building new software applications in the cloud. Not only can that cause security vulnerabilities to become embedded in the cloud architecture and go undetected, it might also increase the cost of remediating those vulnerabilities later.

Organizations should consider cybersecurity at the point of design, fully evaluating their cloud applications to identify possible attack vectors and implement built-in security procedures. A robust security testing process should be undertaken at every stage of development to prevent the formation of security gaps.

Maintain visibility by investing in the right security tools

It’s a serious challenge for security professionals to maintain visibility and enforce a consistent security policy across their entire multi-cloud environment. Invest in cloud security solutions that synchronize all your security tools and cloud-based data in a single location so you can easily maintain visibility over all security information and analysis.

Your cybersecurity tools should also allow you to customize your security policy to match the requirements and limitations of each individual cloud provider to ensure you’re maximizing the level of effectiveness of your security posture within each private and public cloud.

How Alert Logic can help

Our team of high-touch security experts at Alert Logic provides you with the tools, knowledge and expertise you need to protect the data and applications deployed in multi-cloud environments. We provide 24/7 security services so you can feel confident your data is safe and secure.

Request a demo today to get started.

 

Angelica Torres-Corral
About the Author
Angelica Torres-Corral
Angelica Torres-Corral is a product marketing expert at Alert Logic. She brings over 15 years’ experience in security, ranging from data loss prevention and user and behavioral analytics to cloud technologies. Prior to Alert Logic, Angelica held roles at Forcepoint and Schneider Electric in product marketing, solution selling and corporate branding. She holds an MBA from California State University, Fresno and a bachelor’s degree from University of Chicago. Angelica is passionate about solving problems, and helping customers enhance their security posture.

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