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How to make your cloud service cyber resilient

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Satyavathi Divadari Chief Cyber Security Architect, Micro Focus
 

If the pandemic has taught organizations anything, it's the value of resiliency in the face of sudden adversity. That's made migration to cloud operations more attractive than ever as a means of ensuring that critical functions are "always-on" and that customers are receiving great experiences anytime and anywhere, cost-effectively.

While moving IT operations from a local data center to the cloud can enable business growth by protecting business assets and building customer trust, it's important to understand that a cloud provider isn't completely responsible for privacy, security, and compliance. Final responsibility lies with your organization to securely configure, manage, and operate cloud services and protect cloud-based assets.

To meet those responsibilities, organizations should adopt several practices focused on data and application security, identity management, and network monitoring. Here are the key ones.

Secure your data on cloud

Protecting data throughout its lifecycle—from creation to disposal—is vital. With petabytes of data streaming into enterprises and then to the cloud, lots of sensitive personal data requires protection. Managing and protecting sensitive data throughout its lifecycle is a vital parameter.

Transparent and open encryption methods should be used to secure sensitive data wherever it resides.

Protection should be simple and lightweight. That will reduce the potential impact on productivity and business operations of encrypting and decrypting the data, as well as maintaining its usefulness for performing cloud-based big data analytics and business processes.

To ensure data security and privacy, transparent governance and compliance reporting should be done from a single pane of glass, comprehensively across different compliance regimes and across multi-cloud, hybrid cloud, and on premises.

Avoid cloud service lock-in

Data should be secured so it's highly portable across multi-cloud environments.

Classify your data

There is a cost to protecting data in the cloud. By classifying your data assets, you can manage your levels of protection, making sure critical data receives the highest levels of protection and that controls are applied appropriately to data based on its characteristics.

Integrate security onto cloud application development

You should embed and integrate security controls in your development lifecycle.

Unlike on-premises applications, software running in hybrid and multi-cloud environments contains multiple dependencies and requires integration objects. That can create security challenges if you try to bolt on security controls at the end of the development lifecycle.

Enable integrated security testing for open-source libraries and APIs

Third-party and open-source libraries have become an integral part of most applications these days. The security of many of these components is not always well known. When enabling integrated security testing to identify vulnerabilities in your apps, that testing should also inspect open-source libraries and APIs.

Remediate security problems in a timely and appropriate manner

Security assessments are useful only if their findings are acted on before they become irrelevant. That requires continuous monitoring, remediation, and developer education.

Enable contextual and risk-based adaptive access management

It is critical to adopt a zero-trust model.

With the "data everywhere" environment that many organizations operate in—an environment expanded by the need to work at home during the pandemic—identity relationships have risen to a new level of importance. Zero-trust identity management, with contextual risk, should be at the center of any adaptive authentication, access management, and governance system.

By creating a context for users, devices, and applications based on factors such as behavior, location, and network presence, the risk to a system can be evaluated and privileges assigned at appropriate levels.

Centralize lifecycle management and governance of identities

Cloud environments can make managing roles and entitlements complex. Centralizing lifecycle management and governance of identities helps reduce identity fraud or risk of compliance oversight.

Detect, defend, and respond to incidents faster and more effectively

Continuous monitoring for exposures and breaches is critical.

In the wake of the pandemic, data breaches skyrocketed. Based on the latest data breach data from RiskedBased Security, at least 8.4 billion records were exposed in more than 1,100 breaches in the first quarter of 2020. Detecting and responding to a potential data breach faster and quicker helps in reducing risk and damage.

Monitor logs across your operational environment

You can enhance the visibility of your assets and build a better picture of your threat landscape by collecting logs from across your operations area and monitoring them for security events in the cloud, on premises, and in vendor and customer environments.

Use analytics to triage alerts, hunt for threats, and perform real-time analysis of threats

External and internal intelligence can be used to build the awareness needed for faster response to threats. Alert quality can be improved by continuous analysis of false positives using contextual behavior.

Accelerate decision-making through risk-based insights

Risk-based insights can speed up decisions at the time of an incident by allowing you to understand the risk score of your enterprise at any moment in time.

Automate actions and responses

Repetitive actions should be automated. In addition, some incidents can be mitigated with a routine response that can be automated. Automation can improve the efficiency of operations and save time for security analysts. It can also help reduce the time to respond to incidents effectively.

Comprehensive cyber resiliency for a secure cloud

While migration to the cloud can benefit organizations by optimizing costs, improving efficiencies, and speeding up the time it takes to bring products to market, those benefits can be squandered unless measures are taken to build resiliency into your cloud presence.

It is important to have comprehensive security controls in your cloud to build cyber resiliency and help accelerate business transformation. You must ensure that security controls are embedded in your cloud transformation journey to take full advantage of what the cloud has to offer.

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