The cloud has revolutionised the way businesses operate by providing them with a cost-effective and flexible way to store and manage their systems, applications, and data. However, moving to the cloud without proper focus on cyber security can expose organisations to a variety of risks that could lead to severe financial and reputational damage. In this blog post, we will explore the cyber security dangers of moving to the cloud and how organisations can protect themselves by undertaking a Cloud Security Assessment.
Why do you need a Cloud Security Assessment?
Moving to the cloud without implementing proper cybersecurity measures poses a significant risk, mainly due to the increased possibility of data breaches. Check Point’s 2022 Cloud Security Report revealed that 27% of businesses had encountered a security breach in their public cloud infrastructure over the past year. Due to their centralised storage of large volumes of sensitive information, cloud-based environments have become attractive targets for hackers In the event that if an attacker successfully breaches the cloud infrastructure, they can exploit the data, potentially leading to the theft of confidential information, compromising data integrity, or even triggering a major data breach.
An additional challenge arises from the lack of visibility of systems for IT teams. In the event that an attacker successfully breaches the cloud infrastructure, they can exploit the data, potentially leading to the theft of confidential information, compromising data integrity, or even triggering a major data breach. Moreover, an additional challenge arises from the lack of visibility of systems for IT teams.
Lack of visibility
As various departments within an organization adopt Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications and utilize cloud storage platforms, developers might create new databases without the knowledge or consent of the IT department. Consequently, a consolidated view of data across the entire environment becomes elusive. This lack of visibility exacerbates the complexity of ensuring comprehensive security measures and increases the difficulty of effectively monitoring and safeguarding the entire cloud ecosystem.
Increased Attack Surface
Cloud computing and digital transformation have dramatically expanded the attack surface that IT teams need to defend. The exposure of data across a hybrid or multi-cloud environment, combined with the lack of comprehensive visibility without the right tools, makes it almost impossible to assess your data security posture accurately. The complexity of the environment also makes it very difficult to monitor for attacks in progress or detect data leaks effectively.
Non-Compliance and penalties
Organisations that do not implement proper cyber security measures in the cloud may also be at risk of non-compliance with industry regulations and data privacy laws. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in severe financial penalties and reputational damage.
To protect themselves from these dangers, organisations must conduct a thorough Cloud Security Assessment. This assessment will identify vulnerabilities and misconfigurations in their cloud infrastructure and provide recommendations for improving security measures. A Cloud Security Assessment can help organisations implement robust security measures that protect against data breaches, data loss, unauthorised access, and non-compliance.
A cloud security assessment typically focuses on the following areas:
- Overall security posture: Conduct interviews and a documentation review to evaluate the security of enterprise cloud infrastructure.
- Access control and management: Review identity and access management, including user accounts, roles, and key management.
- Network security: Review segmentation and firewall policies against common misconfigurations
- Incident management: Review incident response policy related to cloud infrastructure, including roles and processes related to an incident.
- Storage security: Assess the posture of cloud storage including object-level storage, block-level storage, and related snapshots.
- Platform services security: Review security configuration of advanced service offerings that are specific to each cloud service provider
- Workload security: Review security for workloads including virtualised servers, server-hosted containers, functions, and serverless containerised workloads.
How is a Cloud Security Assessment performed?
CommSec follows a structured process for the assessment. It involves four steps:
- Identify Your Assets – The first step in performing a cloud security assessment is identifying all of the information assets that are stored in your current environment. This includes customer data, financial records, and employee details. Once we have identified the assets stored in your current environment, we will classify them according to their sensitivity. This will allow us to determine which assets are most at risk and which need to be better protected when migrated to a cloud environment.
- Identify Threats – The next step is identifying potential threats that could target your sensitive data. This includes both external threats like hackers and internal threats such as malicious insiders or user error. It can also include threats that may arise from internet dependency and having to rely on the cloud provider for technical assistance.
- Evaluate Your Risks – After identifying the potential threats that could impact your sensitive data, we will evaluate the risks associated with each one. This includes considering the likelihood of a threat occurring as well as the impact it could have on your business.
- Recommend Controls – Once CommSec has evaluated the risks associated with each threat, we will recommend controls that could be implemented to mitigate them. This includes both technical controls like firewalls and encryption as well as non-technical controls such as policies, employee training and incident response plans.
Cloud Security Assessment Checklist
Moving to the cloud means a new set of security concerns and more different approaches than in a traditional environment. Applying cloud security best practice covers multiple areas of your environment and business. Cloud security requires enterprise-wide effort, not just the responsibility of one person or a team.
When reviewing the security of your cloud environment, the Cloud Security Assessment Checklist provides a high-level list of security aspects to consider. The items on the cloud security checklist will be applied differently depending on your environment, but the policies will remain the same no matter how they are implemented.
Cloud Security Assessment Checklist:
- Cloud Policies and Procedures: Establishing guidelines for secure cloud operations and data protection.
- Cloud Access Management: Controlling user permissions and access to cloud resources.
- Cloud Networking: Ensuring network security and protection against cyber threats in the cloud.
- Cloud Backup and Data Recovery: Implementing plans and procedures to prevent data loss and enable recovery.
- Security Patches and Updates: Keeping cloud systems up to date with the latest security patches.
- Logging and Monitoring on the Cloud: Logging system activity and monitoring for potential security breaches.
- Cloud Data Encryption: Encrypting sensitive data stored in the cloud to protect it from unauthorized access.
Overall, moving to the cloud without a proper focus on cyber security can expose organisations to a variety of risks. To protect themselves, organisations must bake in security from the outset. If you are not certain that you have the correct controls in place then you can conduct a Cloud Security Assessment. At CommSec, we specialise in cloud security and we can help your organisation to implement the proper security measures and practices to protect your data and your business.