What are the Best Security Governance Strategies in a Multi-cloud Environment

What are the Best Security Governance Strategies in a Multi-cloud Environment

Businesses that adopt a multi-cloud strategy are considered to be leaders in the tech world. It helps them to overcome several business shortcomings and loopholes using a single cloud, multi-cloud, on-premises, or hybrid cloud.

The process of frequent auditing, monitoring, and managing the set of rules and regulations based on which the organization’s multi-cloud infrastructure operates, must be adhered to. This minimizes the operating cost and enhances performance. This refers to Cloud Security Governance. In this blog, we discuss multi-cloud security challenges and security governance strategies concerning compliance laws in a multi-cloud environment.

What is multi-cloud security governance
What are the biggest challenges to multi-cloud security
What are the best practices in security governance in a multi-cloud environment
Cloud Security Governance – An Optimized Approach

What is multi-cloud security governance

Security is vital to maintain safety in multi-cloud environments which comprises several strategies, policies, cloud security solutions, and hardware and software configurations.

Overcome Multi-cloud Headaches with CloudOpsA custom framework that defines a business account, roles, and policies also referred to as security governance must be designed and implemented to facilitate easy integration into multi-cloud architecture. To provide better security, the framework must be flexible enough with the authentication models of multiple cloud providers. To enhance its security further, unused software must be removed, and APIs have to be secured.

In a multi-cloud environment, the security tools across the deployed clouds have to be considered to facilitate an airtight cloud environment.

For example, the security tools provided by AWS include Amazon GuardDuty, CloudTrail, CloudWatch, Amazon Macie, and Amazon Inspector. These tools use Machine Learning technology to monitor malicious activities and protect sensitive data against potential attacks. Similarly, Google offers security tools like VPC flow logs, an operations suite which monitors, troubleshoots, and improves the overall cloud performance. Azure VNet uses NSG flow logs for keeping track of login information such as IP.

Now, if a company has its operations spread across all the above-mentioned cloud providers (AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure) – what is the most convenient and optimum way to ensure a comprehensive cloud security posture?

Third-party Cloud Security Governance service providers are your best bet. These service providers ensure that you have the best cloud security governance tailored to your organization’s needs while enabling compliance across multiple cloud providers.

Let us now look at a few challenges that plague the multi-cloud security space.

What are the biggest challenges to multi-cloud security

Businesses must organize, manage and streamline huge data from several domains, which, if not taken care of, can wreak havoc. Migrating to a multi-cloud infrastructure and ensuring its optimum functionality with zero blind spots is almost impossible. Hence, such concerns must be addressed at the outset, else they may lead businesses to ‘stampede’ situations.

Listed below are a few multi-cloud security challenges that need to be addressed:

Cloud governance framework for AccessNeed for a centralized Identity and Access Management tool:

Setting up a multi-cloud infrastructure involves additional complexities and challenges. User access privileges and user authorization are some of the strategies that demand multiple user access at the same time.

To enable efficient multi-cloud security, a centralized framework needs to be designed in such a way that it is compatible across all of the cloud platforms. AWS provides access to its resources by creating and evaluating policies when an Identity and Access Management (IAM) personnel makes a request.

For example, AWS considers the following policies – permissions boundaries, resource-based policies, session policies, and identity-based policies. These policies are stored as JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) documents. Similarly, Google IAM emphasizes multi-factor verification methods such as Google Authenticator, Push Notifications, and Titan Security Key. Azure IAM uses single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, cloud authentication, and device registration.

Need for Pre-Migration Training:

When companies switch to the cloud, their security and privacy settings must be reconfigured and get even more tedious when working with multiple cloud platforms. Pre-migration training given to the IT team by cloud providers may not suffice as the team is responsible for handling system settings of multiple platforms.

For example, CloudEndure Migration is an application migration service used by AWS which works on the principle of ‘lift and shift’. This service enables you to seamlessly migrate your application to the AWS cloud. It also minimizes the manual processes by automatically transforming the source servers to run natively on AWS. Consequently, reducing your overall cloud migration cost and eliminating the need for pre-migration training.

Inconsistent Systems Upgradation:

Multi-cloud up-gradation is a key to cloud platforms’ compatibility. Failure to upgrade one cloud system can impact the entire multi-cloud infrastructure. It is synonymous with an invitation for attackers via the backdoor entry. All the patches must be updated across all the cloud systems to ensure robust security and safety from potential threats.

Lack of synchronization of security tools:

In a multi-cloud landscape, businesses may not have a synchronized arrangement with their multiple cloud providers. To enable optimum security operations across the multi-cloud platforms, you must either train and build an IT team or reach out to third-party cloud security governance service providers. This will allow you to leverage their expertise in auditing the security tools of all providers and tailoring a centralized cloud monitoring solution in synchronization with the multiple platforms.

Multi Cloud Governance MCG High Service Availability ImageInefficient data privilege and access dashboarding:

Keeping track of – data about activities and privileges like database access and update, the time of those updates, and the location from where the data was accessed, is not a plug-and-play game.

A centralized data monitoring solution that comprises several strategies and policies can record and display the data logs, as and when needed. Also, a set of regulatory policies can be developed by the security governance model. It defines who can access sensitive and confidential data.

All the above-mentioned challenges point in one direction – A need to partner with a third-party cloud security governance expert. Such a dedicated cloud security management partner can ensure the industry best practices without compromising on the individual requirements of a business.

Let’s look at the cloud security governance best practices that propel organizations towards incredible growth and productivity.

What are the best practices in security governance in a multi-cloud environment

Version Compatibility and Policies Synchronization:

A multi-cloud environment comprises several big or small clouds performing myriad tasks simultaneously. Hence, it is essential to monitor the version of each cloud to ensure a free flow of requests and responses without interruptions and delays.

Businesses must leverage automated tools to ensure that all the policies are in sync with each other and all the settings and patches across all clouds are up to date and compatible with each other. This ensures the smooth workflow among the multiple clouds resulting in an excellent performance.

Cloud Security Achieve Compliance with Standards ImageAdhering to Compliance:

In today’s tech world, businesses must prioritize the assessment of the risks, standards, and regulations that apply across multi-cloud environments. Organizations must adhere to data compliance laws that check all the legal requirements that define ‘how’, ‘when’, and ‘how much’ data will be accessed from multiple locations.

The most commonly used regulations and laws are data privacy laws like GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI. Businesses must run checks using robust automated tools to generate reports at intervals based on varying workloads and also on events such as resource provisioning. This ensures updating and adherence to the respective compliance policies.

Cloud giants like Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud use autonomous methods to protect their resources. For example, AWS uses security groups and NACLs, Microsoft Azure uses Network Security Groups and Google uses Firewalls.

Focusing on Data Encryption and Confidentiality:

Unprotected data is the biggest threat to businesses in today’s digital and hyper-connected world. With data encryption enabled, intruders would require the decryption key to fulfill their intentions, even if the data is breached. Technically, data is protected, when at-rest and while in-transit across the network.

A robust multi-cloud security strategy allows businesses to focus on data encryption from source to a destination within the network. Apart from this, the data should also be kept confidential or passkey protected so that it is not misused while in-use.

The major CSPs like AWS, Azure, and Google provide services for file and object storage securely.

For example, by default Amazon encrypts all the data by using the AWS NoSQL service DynamoDB. Google Cloud provides secure storage services such as BigTable and Spanner, and a central KMS to encrypt data. Azure provides a disk encryption service that uses Windows BitLocker technology and Linux DM-Crypt to protect the data and operating system disk. It mainly uses 256-bit AES encryption.

Build a Strong Defence Against Cloud Security Threats with SecOpsThe Zero Trust Principle:

The right to access internal data in a multi-cloud environment is a critical function and must be addressed seriously. Only relevant data must be accessible to the organization’s respective employees. All other confidential information must be strictly restricted access to unauthorized users.

This allows you to keep the sensitive data isolated from the regularly accessed data. Also, it minimizes the risks of further damage by attackers even if they manage to hack an account.

Timely Backups:

Taking frequent data backups in a multi-cloud is a good practice. Every cloud provider must ensure a solid backup so that the restoration of data to the respective cloud becomes seamless. Also, the backed-up data must be strongly encrypted to ensure safety.

Above all, you must ensure a disaster recovery management plan that may prove to be very helpful when it comes to quick data recovery and restoration over several clouds and helps reinstate the services as before.

Infrastructure Improvement:

To make the multi-cloud infrastructure more secure and robust, frequent assessment will ensure the systems are running on the latest standards.

The processes like-

  1. checking for regular updates and patches,
  2. keeping a close eye on the latest cyber security trends and practices to combat potential attacks, and
  3. implementing the latest automated tools to make the multi-cloud more efficient and secure may prove to be the icing on the cake and can immunize businesses from data breaches and intrusions.

Resource and Cost Management:

Tracking and dashboarding the resources in a multi-cloud infrastructure can go a long way in optimizing cloud costs. The individual resources can be categorized by tagging them while they are deployed. Eventually, costs can be affixed to each resource.

The “tag” represents a key or a value. Tags are used to manage your resources and costs by assigning a unique tag key to each resource. Efficient management of tags helps in resolving issues. These issues are displayed in the form of tagging errors. The method of scanning and resolving these tagging errors is known as tagging governance.

Cloud Security Detect Security Configuration Drifts ImageTag Governance is a subdomain of data governance. An efficient tag governance solution uses automated tools to identify and rectify the issues.

For example, AWS uses tags that allow organizations to keep track of the used and unused resources. This facilitates informed decisions regarding the shutting down of unused resources, thereby, reducing unnecessary costs.

Cost Optimization:

This is the process of eliminating mismanaged resources, identifying and consolidating idle resources, and right-sizing the computing resources to make the cloud operations as cost-efficient as possible.

For example, AWS provides Spot Instances and Azure provides Batch Instances. Both provide only those instances that are required at that point in time. This drastically reduces the overall cost as compared to the normal cost that would be incurred when requested on-demand.

Operations Management:

Cloud operations management involves designing, regulating, and restructuring the operational processes of multi-cloud infrastructure. This includes policies, access control management, software, and hardware to maximize work efficiency.

Cloud Security Governance – An Optimized Approach

When organizations embrace cloud governance, they optimize Operations, Security, Cost, Access, and Resources that facilitate efficient multi-cloud infrastructure management. Each pillar of cloud governance contributes to efficient cloud operations.

For example, optimum resource planning leads to cost minimization, better security, and consolidated access and operations management. They are deeply interlinked and the success of one translates to the rest of the framework.

Hope this article added value to your understanding of Cloud security in a multi-cloud environment. Next, learn about “Top strategies to achieve continuous cloud operations” in our next article.

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