Is your cloud infrastructure at risk?

By Guilherme Alvarenga

Cloud security

By moving to the cloud, you have a powerful infrastructure that can scale up resources on-demand to meet all your traffic needs. Storing data in the cloud and running your applications from the cloud has become the global standard in efficiency, cost reduction, and an overall enhanced customer experience. But what about security?

The answer depends on how much effort you put into securing your cloud environment. If you’re not meticulous about security and constantly monitoring your environment, your cloud is at risk of a breach. Here are four common misconceptions or characteristics that plague organizations’ cloud environment and can lead to significant risks if not course-corrected.

1. You think your cloud provider has security covered

Believing your cloud provider bears all the responsibility for keeping your cloud environment secure is a misconception. Digital security has always been a team effort between provider and client, and modern-day cloud environments are no exception.

Every major cloud provider takes a shared responsibility approach to security. This stance is stated clearly in their security policies. Cloud providers take responsibility for security of the cloud, but clients (you) are responsible for securing what’s in the cloud, i.e., your data and applications. 

If this is new information or you don’t remember reading this when you signed up for your cloud hosting account, your cloud server could be vulnerable.

When your data is unsecured in the cloud, you’re a prime candidate for a data breach that could result in devastating and expensive consequences. Contact your cloud hosting provider to find out how to secure your assets and data. In many cases, the cloud provider you use has a number of cloud services native to their cloud environment, but it’s your responsibility to use these services to make sure your assets and data are secure. 

2. You didn’t hire a professional to set up cloud security 

Hackers will always go after servers that haven’t been set up correctly and seek out misconfigurations. If you aren’t a cloud security expert, you need to hire a professional to configure every aspect of your cloud environment. According to Gartner data published by The Wall Street Journal, up to 95 percent of cloud breaches occur due to human errors like misconfigurations.

Setting up and securing a server is a complicated process, and nothing about cloud security is simple, especially when you’re trying to make it work on your own. Setting up and securing a cloud server is best left to a dedicated cloud security team. For instance, even Amazon had to created lengthy documentation resources for operating and configuring their S3 service.

If you assume default settings for your cloud server’s security, your cloud environment is at risk. Get your environment secured by an IT Security professional who specializes in the cloud, and leverage tooling with AI that can grow and model with the behavior of your cloud environment.

3. You’re not monitoring security threats 24/7

If you’re not monitoring security threats 24/7, your cloud environment is at risk. The only way to eliminate threats quickly is by catching them before the attacker breaches multiple layers of security. When the cloud is so fast and fragmented and you have so much to monitor, using humans to scale in solving the problem may not be practical or cost-effective. Automation helps address the monitoring problem by setting policies that automatically remediate the issue or at least alert you to what is important to fix. 

If you don’t have security software installed to monitor your cloud environment, you’re risking a data breach that could have devastating consequences. Without active monitoring around the clock, threats can make their way in and do serious damage before anyone notices. 

The best way to monitor security threats is to have a monitoring service working for you 24/7. Automated security monitoring is essential for all businesses, but it’s critical for businesses that handle sensitive data like protected health information (PHI) and payment data. Not actively monitoring security threats 24/7 could lead to a costly data breach and tarnished reputation.

4. You don’t have an IT security policy

Security features are only secure when policies are adhered to. That’s why you need an IT security policy that determines how, when, and where employees and contractors can log into your network. For example, a secure IT policy will usually prohibit employees from using unsecured public Wi-Fi networks and personal devices to access the company network. These are basic security measures, but without a policy, employees will do whatever they want.

It’s also important to enforce your policies with consequences. For instance, if sharing login details is not allowed and you find out someone shared their login credentials with a coworker, be sure to implement the consequence in your written policy, whether it’s a write-up or a suspension. Your employees need to know that there is no wiggle room for security violations. 

Managing and enforcing your IT security policy is cumbersome. The optimal way to manage an IT security policy is to implement continuous compliance tracking and enforcement. Cloud environments require a more rigorous approach in this area. Automation simplifies the process by testing compliance against industry standards like HIPAA and PCI DSS while facilitating faster compliance.

About the author

Guilherme Alvarenga

Guilherme Alvarenga is a Product Marketing Manager at Check Point Software Technologies

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