Hybrid Cloud Security – Top Challenges and Best Practices

The increasing prevalence of digital transformations in businesses has led to a global surge in cloud adoption. Many companies are now opting for a hybrid cloud model, which combines private and public cloud services to harness the advantages of both while introducing specific security challenges. It’s important for businesses to be aware of the risks and follow best practices for managing hybrid cloud security. The article examines the security challenges faced in hybrid cloud setups and recommended best practices.

Security Challenges within Hybrid Cloud Environments

1. Lack of Visibility and Increased Complexity

Hybrid cloud combines public and private cloud services, creating a complex IT setup. This complexity can pose risks as security teams find it challenging to oversee and manage workloads in both environments. It also leads to complicated logging systems with multiple storage sources for security events. This lack of visibility and increased complexity can leave potential threats unnoticed. To address this, security teams need to restructure their logging approach for centralized, unified visibility across both environments.

2. Misconfiguration Risks


Misconfigurations in hybrid clouds pose a significant security risk. The quick and flexible nature of hybrid cloud setups can create challenges for businesses with rigid change management processes. These processes may not easily adapt in a cloud environment, where changes in the production environment can be made with a single click or code change. Accidental misconfigurations in the cloud can expose data and infrastructure, making them vulnerable to cyberattacks. Moreover, there’s a risk of malicious insiders making deliberate insecure changes that can go unnoticed. To address these issues, it’s crucial to implement a comprehensive cloud security solution that can automatically fix insecure configurations before they become exploitable.

3. Inadequate Network Protection

Hybrid clouds offer flexibility and resilience due to their dynamic and distributed nature. Nevertheless, this uniqueness can render traditional network defenses ineffective at securing and controlling workloads within them. While these defenses work well in on-premises environments, they may not seamlessly adapt to the cloud, creating security “blind spots” that threat actors could exploit. As a result, security teams need to assess and adapt their controls to align with the specifics of the hybrid cloud environment.

4. The Cloud Skills Gap

Cloud Security differs considerably from traditional on-premise security in several areas, such as a shared responsibility model, higher focus on automation, data residency requirements, etc. These skills needs to be developed within security teams, which can take time and effort. Most businesses invest heavily in hybrid cloud infrastructure without upskilling their teams in parallel, creating a skill gap. This can lead to risks like security misconfigurations and loopholes in the cloud environment.

5. Compliance and Governance

Companies often choose Hybrid Cloud to enhance data and workload control and security. Nevertheless, it’s vital to grasp how compliance and governance operate in the cloud. To safeguard data from leaving a specific geographic location, Data Residency controls are necessary. Additionally, the shared responsibility model might entail shifting some compliance obligations to the cloud provider. Hence, businesses need to update their governance and compliance approaches to maintain oversight of their cloud environments.

Security Best Practices for Hybrid Cloud

To mitigate these risks, several security best practices can be implemented within a hybrid cloud environment:

1. Understanding the Shared Responsibility Model

The Shared Responsibility Model is the basis for how security is governed within the cloud. Not understanding it can lead to problems within a hybrid cloud environment as businesses struggle to understand who is responsible for what. It is essential to have a thorough understanding of this model that outlines the cloud provider as being accountable for the security OF the cloud and the customer as being responsible for security IN the cloud. Most hybrid cloud environments utilize infrastructure and storage services in which customers are responsible for securing the application and services hosted on top of these services. By having a firm understanding of this model, security teams can delineate their responsibilities and take advantage of the security benefits the cloud provider brings.

2. Enhancing Monitoring

We mentioned visibility as a significant challenge within hybrid cloud hence monitoring becomes one of the critical pillars of an effective security strategy. It is essential to have complete visibility into the security posture of all mixed cloud workloads so that security threats can be responded to promptly. Businesses should invest in security tooling that can monitor the security posture of the hybrid cloud and take automated actions based on threat indicators. AI and Machine Learning can also greatly support such tooling due to the volume of data that gets generated.

3. Unified Security Controls

Standardizing security controls is essential for maintaining security in a hybrid cloud. Maintaining different levels of security across environments leads to a high level of risk and blind spots that attackers can exploit. Businesses must adopt a unified approach to cloud security in which standard security guardrails are implemented that maintain the same level of security across environments. This ensures that data is protected regardless of where it resides.

How InsiderSecurity Can Help

InsiderSecurity’s CSX is a powerful solution built from the ground up to address the unique security challenges of the hybrid cloud. Some of its key features are;

  1. Unified Cloud Security: CSX provides a unified layer that covers the security of all cloud layers, be it Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Software as a Service (SaaS).
  2. Unified Identity and Visibility: The problem of visibility within the hybrid cloud goes away with CSX’s ability to provide a single view of the hybrid cloud security posture. CSX can also generate a cloud asset inventory, providing visibility into your cloud resources.
  3. SaaS Security Monitoring: CSX has the unique ability to monitor the security of SaaS solutions like M365 and Google Suite, where traditional solutions might fall short. It can also leverage the power of AI and User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) to intelligently analyze the massive amount of data present and identify anomalies. This also allows it to detect insider threats, especially within SaaS services. It can flag suspicious data access and privileged activity attempts, indicating an insider threat. 
  4. Security Response Automation:  CSX provides the ability for automated security response for applicable use cases. This allows for instant risk mitigation and response, especially in the misconfiguration of cloud assets. By automating response and remediation, businesses can mitigate the risk of accidental cloud misconfigurations and prevent them from being exploited.

Conclusion

In summary, the hybrid cloud brings tremendous security benefits, such as increased flexibility and control, while introducing new challenges. By understanding these risks and implementing best-in-class solutions like CSX, businesses can enjoy the full benefits of a hybrid cloud safely and securely.