Originally published by New Context.
When referring to the global network of computing resources that house and drive data and information interchanges today, many use the term “cloud” or “cloud computing.” From a holistic vantage point, this nomenclature has merit similar to that of the expression network used when describing a LAN, WAN, or MAN. Yet, just as these networks typically contain many connected computers and other devices, so are most cloud deployments a collection of multiple interconnected clouds.
In today’s Information Age, the major threats that governments and enterprises (both local and global) face are digital in nature. As data is considered by many to be the most precious commodity—its use as a substitute for currency tax payments has even been considered—its acquisition and exchange are critical activities that take place in the cloud or clouds. Thus, when considering cloud security vulnerabilities, the analysis must be inclusive of all cloud deployments that may impact or interact with your systems. Prior to devising a plan to defend against these threats, we first need to recognize and understand the various types of cloud deployment.
Cloud or Clouds?
When you scan the skies on most days, the vista is usually dotted with multiple clouds. However, when you mention cloud computing, many conjure up a single structure with virtually infinite connections to networks that span the globe, similar to “the internet.” Exactly. In fact, a cloud is the part of the internet that connects a user or an enterprise with the computing resources that store and process their data. And “the cloud” generically refers to the complex constellation of data resources on the internet, in which we all are connected.
When an organization decides to undergo a cloud migration, data security should be at the top of the list of essential considerations that must be addressed from the outset. This includes knowing the types of potential security threats for different types of cloud deployments such as multicloud or hybrid cloud. Neither the cloud nor the services and vendors that comprise it are static or fixed. Even if you begin with a single cloud or service provider, your cloud network is likely to evolve due to client demands or changes in vendors or services.
Multicloud Security Challenges
Cloud environments are usually classified as either public or private. If your deployment consists of more than one network, regardless of whether they are public or private, then it is a multicloud. For enterprises, most cloud migrations or deployments are multicloud, which presents distinct challenges for securing data and managing access. Potential cloud security vulnerabilities for multicloud deployments include:
- Configuration compliance
- Maintaining a plan-build-run model
- Asset and financial visibility
- Balancing cloud-first and cloud-only approaches
- Reliance on vendor management
Multicloud deployments can be quite complex as they typically involve different vendors and various tools. As such, a multicloud may require advanced tools and solutions to successfully address security vulnerabilities, which we will discuss after taking a look at hybrid cloud environments.
Hybrid Cloud Deployment
If your cloud deployment consists of an integration of both public and private networks, then it is a hybrid cloud. Hybrid clouds usually include the following attributes:
- Comprised of multiple networked computers
- Have centralized management
Employ automationHybrid clouds offer more flexibility than a multicloud; however, both have security threats. Hybrid cloud security vulnerabilities include:
- Securing data during operation
- Reliable supply chain
- Maintaining compliance
- Data visibility and control
Hybrid clouds share some similar cloud security vulnerabilities with multiclouds, and both architectures require a series of deliberate steps to minimize cloud security vulnerabilities.
A Plan for Guarding Against Your Cloud Security Vulnerabilities
Although different virtual network types, the security objective of preventing unauthorized access to data or any part of the system is the same for multiclouds and hybrid clouds, as the table below indicates:The list above is not all-inclusive. Yet, it does provide essential elements that should be a part of any planned cloud migration. Whether you are in the midst of a digital transformation or have finally realized that the success of your business necessitates it, cloud migration requires that you carefully consider the security vulnerabilities that your cloud deployment may face.
Probably, the most significant decision concerning your cloud security is who will handle your digital transformation consulting. This partner will work closely with you to ensure that your migration successfully addresses the cloud security vulnerabilities for the network configuration that best suits your needs. Therefore, you should ensure that your choice has the requisite computing and tool expertise and experience, as well as the security strategy that will safeguard your data and meet compliance requirements regardless of your cloud deployment