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5 Common Security Challenges in the Cloud

How cloud environments enable a new way to tackle common cybersecurity issues.

The five most common cybersecurity challenges our customers face include visibility, asset management, segmentation, tools consolidation and optimization, and a lack of resources.

Cloud environments are not exempt from these security challenges. But did you know that the flexibility of cloud presents an opportunity to tackle these challenges in new and exciting ways?

As workloads increasingly shift to cloud-delivered resources across industries and verticals, security efforts must adapt to effectively protect these resources.

At WWT, we distill cloud security into three distinct aspects to ensure our customers pay proper attention to each:

  1. Public cloud provider security.
  2. Software as a service (SaaS) security.
  3. Cloud access security.

While each subgroup of cloud security faces the same common challenges, the way in which they solve them is unique. Let’s use this lens to briefly explore how the most common security challenges manifest in cloud environments.

Challenge 1: Visibility in the cloud

Cloud is increasingly being integrated into cybersecurity practices to keep up with market demand for rapid change and innovation.

The most important facet of effective cybersecurity is visibility. How does cloud enable better visibility?

First and foremost, as a newly deployed architecture, cloud allows your security team to build a cloud-ready visibility strategy from the get go. It also enables better ways to assess your network.

For example, consider public cloud provider networks that let you easily decrypt all incoming network traffic using on-demand decryption resources either native to your cloud provider or your preferred third-party vendor (e.g., F5 or Palo Alto Networks). Because these decryptions use flow logs to give full visibility into who's doing what at all times, your security operations team can answer basic visibility questions they couldn’t before with on-prem deployments.

Flow log analysis is one example of how cloud providers have provided rich APIs to view and assess cloud activity. The analysis details who did what, when, where it’s deployed now and what it’s talking to. Historically, answering all of these questions required multiple teams to weigh in.

For more on cloud visibility, stay tuned for my upcoming article where I explore the topic in depth, including a closer look at public cloud providers, SaaS and remote access.

Challenge 2: Asset management in the cloud

Today’s organizations generally use a mix of hardware and virtualized platforms that include servers, physical and virtual machines, containers, desktops, laptops and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Given the complexity of the modern enterprise architecture, it’s easy to see why some companies have a hard time answering the three most basic security questions:

  • What’s on my network?
  • What’s it doing?
  • Should it be doing that?

Adding cloud to the equation complicates matters even more.

For example, since public cloud providers offer dynamic services that run and then disappear, user identities and access management strategies have become just as important in the cloud as the assets or services running. With the right tools and best practices (e.g., using multiple inventory discovery tools, tagging/labeling, automation, etc.), you can effectively secure assets in the cloud.

For tips on monitoring and maintaining assets in cloud networks, including a deeper dive into how to answer these three key security questions, read our article on the who, what and why of cloud asset management.

Challenge 3: Segmentation in the cloud

If your organization is like most, you’re planning the migration or expansion of application environments to the public cloud. Hopefully, you’re also planning a concurrent security architecture strategy for each migration.

While enterprise segmentation is critical for any security strategy, it's simply a must for cloud migration. If segmentation isn’t on your cloud roadmap, it should be. No customer wants to become an easy target for potential threats, and ignoring segmentation is one of the quickest ways to do so.

The challenge is understanding what segmentation means in each cloud environment you use (public, private, hybrid) as well as what it means for the services you stand up in the cloud. Because cloud offers many new features and possibilities, ensuring a proper segmentation strategy is essential.

For more from WWT’s segmentation experts, check out this article on 3 Ways to Operate Public Cloud Segmentation.

Challenge 4: Tools consolidation and optimization in the cloud

Security professionals often share a similar concern:

Tool sprawl is a real challenge for IT. Many tools are purchased, yet few are fully implemented. Moreover, security teams often invest in specialized tools that address a single issue without realizing that one, two or even three existing tools within the organization can accomplish the same task.

Cloud is no different. Whether we’re talking native tools from cloud providers or on-prem tools you already own, WWT can help you define, consolidate and optimize the cloud security tools you really need.

If your organization is considering an integrated security architecture, our Security Tools Rationalization Workshop can help you identify the right tools. Our security workshops can help you consolidate, utilize and apply existing on-prem tools to your cloud resources, ultimately allowing you to standardize and streamline cloud and on-prem security.

We'll also help ensure your security transformation plan is financially sound and includes clearly-defined business outcomes.

For insight into how your move to the cloud will effect existing security tools, schedule a Cloud Security Tools Rationalization Workshop with a WWT security expert today.

Challenge 5: Lack of resources in the cloud

The last common challenge is a lack of adequately trained security resources.

WWT is committed to helping customers solve this challenge through security team training in the use of orchestration and automation tools.

Secure Orchestration and Automated Incident Response (SOAR) is an emerging field that's really helping address some persistent cloud cybersecurity issues.

For instance, SOAR features the relatively new and exciting ability to create playbooks that can orchestrate as many tools as your SOC teams see fit and then automate responses. While there are thousands of daily alerts SOC teams tend to just ignore, SOAR tools can automatically handle and address these alerts.

This ability, enabled by the cloud, can significantly minimize your lack of resources challenge.

No matter where your SOC team is in its security automation journey, we recommend signing up for a Security Automation Workshop after reviewing our most recent article on how SOAR can contribute to your organization’s security evolution.

Conclusion

The flexibility of cloud is enabling some new ways for organizations to tackle some of the most persistent cybersecurity challenges — visibility, asset management, segmentation, tools consolidation and optimization, and a lack of resources.

If you're not taking full advantage of the latest cloud security features and strategies to protect your business, contact your local WWT Account Manager or reach out directly.