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Emerging Public Cloud Security Challenges in The Age of Covid-19

“Social Distancing” might be the new term we’ve adopted to portray our lives in public. Be that as it may, we’re not just keeping physical separation between us. To an ever increasing extent, the information that controls our work and play (hi, Netflix binge watching!) is moving to the cloud as opposed to being put away in on premise servers.

With far off groups interfacing from everywhere throughout the world, organizations no longer need a solitary, physical area for laborers or information to dwell. With public cloud platforms, for example, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, work force can get to pivotal information from anyplace and whenever. To meet current work-from-home requests, access to the cloud can be scaled up or down contingent upon utilization. For example, with more dependence on far off work for a long time to come, organizations can expand their cloud capabilities and continue business as usual in this unusual time.

In a mid-March 2020 survey from brokerage firm Instinet, 68% of CIOs said that cloud services would become more of a priority for their businesses.

Research focuses to expanding open cloud appropriation throughout the following year, even in the midst of—or maybe as the consequence of—the current COVID-19 pandemic and broad financial interferences. In a mid-March 2020 study from financier firm Instinet, 68% of CIOs said that cloud administrations would turn out to be to a greater extent a need for their organizations. Respondents additionally announced an anticipated decrease in on premise outstanding burdens, from 59% depending on-prem resources in 2019 to an expected 35% by 2021.

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Cloud services have made the transition to working remotely more straightforward for some organizations. However, with progressively remote workers accessing these assets, IT managers and cybersecurity groups need to prioritize cloud security and compliance. In the Instinet study, 86% of CIO respondents said that cloud security was presently a higher spending need. How can businesses protect their investment in public cloud?

Key Takeaways

24/7 Access

More businesses are adopting cloud to give remote employees 24/7 access to crucial information

24/7 Access

Organizations in highly regulated industries must ensure that their applications comply with various security requirements to protect sensitive data.

Future Ready

A comprehensive and future ready cloud security strategy can assist organizations in preventing and mitigating threats to data stored in and accessed through cloud services

Highly Regulated Industries in the Cloud

The initial step for organizations is perceiving where they have to accomplish consistence and enhanced security measures. Security and compliance guidelines can shift contingent on industry, and they can be particularly severe with regards to cloud computing. In profoundly controlled enterprises, rebelliousness can bring about fines, penalties, and different ramifications for a business.

 

Telehealth providers must stay compliant with the HIPAA Security Rule when conferencing with patients and handling electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI)

 

Regulatory industries have begun modernizing to enable workers to connect with colleagues and clients remotely. Developing video conferencing applications, for example, Zoom, Skype for Business, and Cisco, empower workers to hold gatherings and collaborate with customers in any area. Similarly, as financial information, patient health history, and different records need to remain secure and private, so does the video and sound information being spilled and transmitted among remote workers and their clients.

For example, telehealth suppliers must remain agreeable with the HIPAA Security Rule while conferencing with patients and taking care of electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI). The manners by which patient data is stored and broadcast via telemedicine applications, and who can access that data, are all highly regulated. HIPAA Security Rule rules specify the assurance of ePHI through an arrangement of secure correspondence and a framework that screens interchanges containing ePHI to prevent accidental or malicious breaches. Additionally, only authorized users should have access to this sensitive information. While cloud storage is an effective way to manage this data, healthcare organizations need to ensure that the data is secure and audit-ready at all times. Oftentimes, these institutions can’t guarantee that their data is safe using native public cloud tools alone.

Federal agencies are also relying on remote access to data right now. They have to comply with FedRAMP compliance, a standardized program for security assessment, authorization, and monitoring for cloud services. Many state governments are undergoing similar transitions from on-prem to cloud data storage. Other highly regulated industries like financial services, education institutions, and telecommunications providers all have their own standards that they must meet in order to protect sensitive customer data.

Top Public Cloud Security Challenges

While public cloud services provide businesses and agencies with effective data storage, access, and management, they are not an “out-of-the-box” solution. What many organizations fail to understand—sometimes too late—is that these platforms alone are often insufficient when it comes to offering total data protection.

Many cloud services adhere to a shared responsibility model. This means that while the cloud provider protects the security of the cloud as a whole, the customer must protect the security of their data within the cloud. In other words, the user must ensure the integrity of client data, identity and access management, encryption, and other components of their cloud architecture.

As more associations migrate to the cloud, they should organize their security strategies. They may accept that native tools are sufficient to depend on, yet in truth they have to search further for complete cloud security.

In a recent report, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) illustrated the main 11 dangers to distributed computing for 2020. Data breaches, misconfiguration and deficient change control, an absence of cloud security engineering and technique, and lacking identity and access management were among the greatest security challenges for all businesses working in the cloud. These issues are not one of a kind to a specific industry, yet luckily, they have common solutions.

Preventing Data Breaches

The Challenge

A data breach can involve the release and/or theft of “personal health information, financial information, personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets and intellectual property,” said the CSA report. The consequences of compromised data can include fines and other legal penalties, lost customers, and even the closure of a business.

The Solution

Being proactive will help businesses and agencies identify threats before they lead to catastrophic losses. A cloud management platform can provide continual monitoring through automation, so that information security teams receive alerts the moment an anomaly occurs instead of discovering compromised data months—or years—later.

Citrus Value Proposition

Our team of Advanced Security Consultants proficient in multiple technologies implement proactive security monitoring tools in order to have a near real time outlook for your “on the cloud” infrastructure. A technology agnostic approach ensures a minimized TCO for you, coupled with a 24/7 team spread across multiple Global Delivery Centers ensure your data is protected and secured at all times. We Monitor, alert, and audit actions and changes to your environment in real time. Integrate log and metric collection with systems to automatically investigate and take action. We focus on use of mechanisms and tools to reduce or eliminate the need for direct access or manual processing of data. This reduces the risk of mishandling or modification and human error when handling sensitive data.

Correcting Misconfiguration and Inadequate Change Control

The Challenge

Misconfiguration of public cloud resources is the leading cause of data breaches, said the CSA report. Common examples of this misconfiguration include unsecured data storage elements or containers, excessive permissions, credentials left in default settings, or other control features that are improperly set up or altogether disabled.

The Solution

Again, cloud management platforms can fill in security gaps and work to correct errors. “Companies should embrace automation,” said the CSA report, “and employ technologies that scan continuously for misconfigured resources and remediate problems in real-time.” With these tools, administrators can review AWS config and other rules to ensure they meet audit requirements at all times.

Citrus Value Proposition

Citrus team of Security Consultants leverage multiple cloud management platforms based on customer need and use case in order to ensure automation on threat detection, and response. In a scenario of an anomaly detection, an automated response and action is triggered based on pre-configured Security Playbook built along the lines of global industry best practices. We apply a Apply a defense in depth approach with multiple security controls to all layers (for example, edge of network, VPC, load balancing, every instance and compute service, operating system, application, and code). Automated software-based security mechanisms improve your ability to securely scale more rapidly and cost- effectively. Create secure architectures, including the implementation of controls that are defined and managed as code in version-controlled templates.

Building a Cloud Security Architecture and Strategy

The Challenge

Moving to the cloud is more than a “lift-and-shift” effort when it comes to security said the CSA report. What worked for on-prem assets will likely not work in the cloud.

The Solution

Information security executives should develop clear security strategies that align with business objectives and ensure that their threat models are up to date. The CSA recommends that security strategies include continuous monitoring for vulnerabilities. Automating these processes with a cloud management platform can take the place of time-consuming manual work and eliminate vulnerabilities with the push of a button.

Citrus Value Proposition

Citrus team of Security Consultants leverage multiple cloud management platforms based on customer need and use case in order to ensure automation on threat detection, and response. In a scenario of an anomaly detection, an automated response and action is triggered based on pre-configured Security Playbook built along the lines of global industry best practices. We apply a Apply a defense in depth approach with multiple security controls to all layers (for example, edge of network, VPC, load balancing, every instance and compute service, operating system, application, and code). Automated software-based security mechanisms improve your ability to securely scale more rapidly and cost- effectively. Create secure architectures, including the implementation of controls that are defined and managed as code in version-controlled templates.

Managing Sufficient Identity, Credential, Access, and Key Policies

The Challenge

Identity and access management enables organizations to manage, monitor, and secure access to valuable data and resources. Security incidents can arise when administrators ignore best practices like multi-factor authentication; regular automated rotation of cryptographic keys, passwords, and certificates; use of strong passwords; and other measures to protect user credentials.

The Solution

Administrators must develop granular identity and access management policies to give the right people the correct level of access to sensitive data. They can achieve this by using a tool that helps them track users and permissions. Reviewing these policies can also minimize insider threats to data, number six on the CSA’s list of 2020 cloud security challenges.

The move to the cloud is vital in providing personnel with continuous, reliable access to data, whether they are in the office or working remotely. To protect their assets, companies should look to third-party tools to remediate vulnerabilities and ensure that they are following best practices in compliance and security.

Citrus Value Proposition

Citrus Consulting Services leverages multiple native and third party tools in order to execute appropriate identity and access management policies. Least privileges lies at the backbone of all our security implementations. All of our deployments Implement the principle of least privilege and enforce separation of duties with appropriate authorization for each interaction with your cloud resources. We centralize identity management, and aim to eliminate reliance on long-term static credentials. We recommend that you organize workloads in separate accounts and group accounts based on function, compliance requirements, or a common set of controls rather than mirroring your organization’s reporting structure. As Advanced Consulting Partners we ensure, accounts are a hard boundary, zero trust container for your resources. For example, account-level separation is strongly recommended for isolating production workloads from development and test workloads.

Protecting Public Cloud Assets

Stay-at-home orders have pushed many businesses to see remote work as a necessity, not just a “nice-to-have.” Cloud adoption is an essential step in adapting to changes in the way we work.

 

Organizations already using the cloud could be poised for success in the current situation. “We have theorized the crisis could accelerate the cloud migration,” Instinet said in its report. “We expect firms with public cloud exposure will emerge stronger from the crisis.”

 

However, companies need more than what native cloud platform tools can offer. As an Advanced Consulting firm with deep and narrow focus on security on all our “on the cloud” deployments, we help you manage your infrastructure in a safe and secure manner.

How Citrus Consulting Can Help You Secure Your Infrastructure on The Cloud

Security and Compliance is a shared responsibility between public cloud providers and you, the customer. This shared model can help reduce your operational burden. As a customer, one should carefully examine the services chosen as your responsibilities vary depending on the services used, the integration of those services into your IT environment, and applicable laws and regulations. The nature of this shared responsibility also provides the flexibility and control that permits the deployment.

We Help You Navigate Through Your Workloads on The Cloud Securely

We apply overarching best practices to every area of security: Take requirements and processes that you have defined in operational excellence at an organizational and workload level, and apply them to all areas. Staying up to date with industry recommendations and threat intelligence helps us evolve your threat model and control objectives. Automating security processes, testing, and validation allow us to scale your security operations.

We help you Identify and prioritize risks using a threat model: We use a threat model to identify and maintain an up-to-date register of potential threats. Prioritize your threats and adapt your security controls to prevent, detect, and respond. We ensure timely cadence in revisiting and maintaining this in the context of the ever evolving security landscape.

Based on your industry and compliance requirements, we identify and validate control objectives: Based on your compliance requirements and risks identified from your threat model, derive and validate the control objectives and controls that we need to apply to your workload. Ongoing validation of control objectives and controls help us measure the effectiveness of risk mitigation.

We ensure we keep up to date with security threats: Recognize attack vectors by staying up to date with the latest security threats to help you define and implement appropriate controls. We keep up to date with both cloud platforms and industry security recommendations to evolve the security posture of your workloads.

We ensure consistent evaluation and implementation of new security services and features regularly through automation testing and validation of security controls: We evaluate and implement security services and features from cloud providers that allow you to evolve the security posture of your workload. We establish secure baselines and templates for security mechanisms that are tested and validated as part of your build, pipelines, and processes. Use tools and automation to test and validate all security controls continuously. For example, scan items such as machine images and infrastructure as code templates for security vulnerabilities, irregularities, and drift from an established baseline at each stage. Reducing the number of security misconfigurations introduced into a production environment is critical—the more quality control and reduction of defects you can perform in the build process, the better. Design continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines to test for security issues whenever possible. CI/CD pipelines offer the opportunity to enhance security at each stage of build and delivery.CI/CD security tooling must also be kept updated to mitigate evolving threats.

About Citrus Consulting Services

Citrus Consulting Services FZ-LLC is a registered free zone (Dubai Internet City) Company. Citrus has operations across Middle East, Turkey, Africa and CIS Countries through direct and indirect means.

Citrus has a team of Technologists and Problem Solvers who live agile methods every day. We apply human centered design driven by client’s business goals to help inform, explore and confirm user experience decisions, solve big problems and bring ideas to market. Core competencies for Citrus is around Emerging Technologies and industry verticals that leverages these technologies. We leverage disruptive technology trends with a reliable line of sight in the horizon and deliver value to our customers through insights like what users will expect, what technology will be available for main stream, how fast networks will move, and where the next disruption will emerge.

Citrus has a very experienced team with prior stints at Global-4 consulting firms and technology firms. Citrus team has global exposure across North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia continents.

Citrus Consulting Services has long been heavily invested in the AWS technology space within the MEA region. A true testament to the same is adherence to the Advanced Consulting Partner Status for the second consecutive year and achieving a Service Delivery Competency in the Amazon EC2 for Windows Server.

As technology partners to your business needs, we intend to help take off the weight of technology off your shoulders, so that you focus on what’s important – Business.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rahul Saraswat

An Emerging Technology Consultant with over 6 years’ experience in dealing with technologies like Hyperscalars, Internet of Things and Data and Analytics. He has aided in development of multiple solutions for customers in Middle East and Africa region enabling them in their Digital Transformation journey. A Certified AWS Cloud Practitioner, he is an AWS evangelist empowering customer adoption and expedited onboarding of different emerging technologies and services from varying industries and segments.