The trend to use cloud-based applications and services saw its growth accelerated by the pandemic, and now with a great shift to remote work. Remote work has only increased the importance of network cybersecurity. More remote work and storing information and data on cloud-based applications brings additional cybersecurity risks.
Typically, company data and information are stored on an organization’s servers at headquarters with its security tools on-site.
Remote access onto the servers that store this information creates potential gaps in security for any network if firewalls and controls are not properly set, or the right level of security isn’t being used by the organization.
The adoption of cloud security has also grown along with this, which has its own set of benefits and risks. That is true with every type of security environment - cloud-based, on-premise, and hybrid networks.
What is “The Cloud?”
The cloud is made up of servers and computers that software and databases run on that are that are not traditionally stored and managed “on-premise.” Essentially, “the cloud” is a network of computers and servers that an organization using them doesn’t own or manage physically, but exists physically and is managed elsewhere, often outsourced.
Cloud security protects your cloud-based infrastructure such as your applications, data, and access to your overall network. This ensures device authentication on the network, access to data, and control. Cloud security is deployed on cloud environments to protect networks against DDoS attacks, malware, and other types of cyber-attacks including unauthorized access to networks.
Just as there are different cloud security configurations, there are also three types of cloud-based security environments:
- Public Cloud
- Private Cloud
- Hybrid Cloud
Is the cloud safer than on-premise security?
The question most commonly asked is if the cloud is safer than on-premise. That question applies to both cloud-based services apps and ones hosted on a network, as well as cloud-based and on-premise network security.
While there is some debate about it, SecuLore’s stance is that cloud-based security isn’t any more or less safe or secure than on-premise network security. The reason for that is that the professionals responsible for running these networks and servers in either location have the potential to make mistakes no matter the deployment that could compromise the security of the data and systems.
There are benefits and risks to each approach. It’s important to choose the option that is best for your organization and follow best practices for the chosen approach.
What Are the Cloud Service Models?
The ability to use any cloud service exists through the virtualization of physical hardware that would normally host these services and networks. Instead of needing physical hardware, the technology is virtualized for organizations to use widespread as potentially multiple services.
There are several different models of cloud services regarding how data and information are stored, accessed, and protected. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Software-as-a-Service: SaaS is one of the more common types of cloud-based services. SaaS involves users and organizations accessing the service through a server on the internet, and the implementation details such as cloud OS and networking are left mostly or completely invisible to the buyer of the service.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service: The IaaS model has a company renting servers and storage space from cloud providers to build what they need in-house.
Platform-as-a-Service: PaaS is slightly like SaaS, except it involves paying for tools and infrastructure needed online. It allows users and organizations to build their own network with the tools they are renting in this style of service.
What are the Cloud Model Models?
While cloud service models explain how the services are offered and accessed by organizations from the cloud, the cloud deployment model explains where the servers are located and who manages the servers. There are different types of cloud deployment types that organizations can choose from and just as with any service, each model has benefits and drawbacks. If you outsource cloud services, particularly cloud security, each provider may offer multiple options of these models to organizations, depending on that provider.
Public cloud: Choosing a public cloud option from a vendor means that you will likely share the usage of cloud data and storage services with multiple organizations. Virtualized machines allow the provider to offer organizations the ability to share this space through multiple services or data centers. Costs for this model are typically lower and more reliable in terms of operation. One of the biggest issues, which we’ll mention later, is that the visibility into a public cloud network is typically not good and a dangerous disadvantage. Public cloud models may also be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, which helps keep costs low rather than completely customizing the network for each individual organization but isn’t always the best fit for everyone.
Private cloud: A private cloud deployment model includes servers, data centers, or networks that are solely dedicated to a single organization. Unlike a public cloud, it’s not a shared server with other customers of this type of service deployment. Private clouds offer more security and control over the environment than the public cloud. You will often hear that cost and maintenance are the drawbacks of a private cloud deployment model.
While that is true, consider the average costs of cloud breaches by deployment model in 2021:
While the cost associated with a private cloud deployment model may be higher than a public cloud deployment model, there was a higher cost for public cloud data breaches in 2021 over private.
Hybrid cloud: The other type of cloud deployment model mentioned in the above graphic and in the 2021 IBM study is the hybrid cloud deployment model. The hybrid cloud deployment model combines public and private clouds. The hybrid approach allows for the use of public and private, as well as on-premise services as an option. A major benefit of any cloud-based model or service is scalability, hybrid included. We noted that public and on-premise services or networks are not safer than the others. While the same applies to deployment models, the likelihood that there is a security breach to both your public and private cloud environments is lower, provided best practices are followed. One of those potential benefits of the hybrid model from following best practices is the ability to segment your data and information and use one as the backup. There is a larger cost typically associated with the hybrid cloud deployment model, but referring to the above graphic in IBM’s study, the average cost of a breach from the hybrid deployment model was lower than public and private cloud breaches. The extra cost leads to better security and potentially lower costs for breaches.
Multi-cloud: The other cloud deployment option involves using multiple cloud networks. That includes both virtual and physical servers that are both cloud-based and on-premise. You can also choose a multi-cloud deployment option with strictly public and private cloud models each. Cost is the obvious drawback with the multi-cloud model and each of the individual pros and cons for the other ones apply here as well.
Why is the cloud attractive?
With all these cloud options and services available, it’s clear that using this method is very popular, as evidenced by its growth in spending.
As you can see, the growth in cloud security spending alone has been astronomical from 2020 to the predicted number for 2022.
Why is the cloud so popular?
Cloud-based services are more reliable with more options for backups. It also improves the productivity of IT teams, providing automatic updates.
There are many other benefits to cloud computing and reasons why there has been a dramatic increase in adoption, and thus the spending on cloud security options:
- Accessibility in multiple locations
- Flexible storage
- Supports hybrid workforce
- Costs less than traditional hardware solutions
The U.S. government allocated an estimated $18.78 billion for cybersecurity spending in 2021. (Atlas VPN)
Most Common Cloud Attacks
Proper network configuration is critical to cloud security protection as there are several attack vectors that attackers can exploit to gain access to your data. Being aware of the most common cloud attacks can help you be prepared and have your controls properly set to try to avoid these types of cloud attacks.
Cloud malware injection attacks: This allows attackers to take control of services in the cloud. This is normally done by exploiting running services to execute malicious code. Once a foothold is established, data can be exfiltrated.
Man in the Cloud: If an attacker finds a vulnerability to exploit in the controls of your cloud, it can make changes to the synchronization/update system of the service and then replace it with a version that creates access for attackers to further compromise the account.
Side Channel attacks: These attacks are a way to extract sensitive information from a system by other means than a normal input or output channel. This is more prominent in the cloud due to cloud computing revolving around side channels that exist in shared hardware. Meltdown and Spectre were two examples of side channel vulnerabilities that emerged from processes causing a CPU to speculatively access data that the process should not have access to. A process can recover the accessed data via a side channel, where it would have exposure in an attack.
Insider attacks: Ransomware groups commonly recruit employees and users with inside access to networks at companies they are targeting. This gives attackers access through credentials and privileges that make getting into a network easy. The potential for insider attacks is a good example of the importance of proper security architecture with different levels of access.
APTs: More a type of threat attribution than a type of attack, advanced persistent threats are good at adapting security measures to find new areas to access. APT groups can conduct reconnaissance and attack networks continuously without being detected for long periods of time.
DDoS attacks: Denial of service attacks can be particularly damaging in the cloud, especially with public cloud setups. An attack on a shared public cloud can lead to an overload and DOS to other users and services sharing the network under attack.
Cloud Security Best Practices
While cloud security continues to evolve as cyber threats also evolve and escalate, there are several best practices that can be followed to enhance your cloud security and protect your network:
- Utilize monitoring tools to know what is on your network
- Have offline backups in addition to any cloud-based backup methodology
- Segment access and permissions
- Secure your endpoints (inventory, patch management, monitoring)
- Encrypt all data in transit and at rest
- Train your staff
- Work with cybersecurity vendors that combine behavior-based and AI driven alerts and human to human cyber expertise through monitoring
Choose an Independent Third-Party Cloud Network Monitoring Solution
You have seen all the benefits and risks of cloud applications and cloud security. SecuLore’s Paladin Cloud™ provides a physical network presence that monitors all IP-based traffic entering and leaving your network and gives you the ability to visualize this information for cyber awareness.
Traffic and security monitoring can be done through both on-premise security, using physical hardware tools, as well as software for hybrid models that are considered effective.
Cloud-based network security monitoring centralizes security to protect information and assets through a cloud-based server. It brings everything together for easier traffic monitoring to detect anomalous behavior and identify potential vulnerabilities. Our virtualized cloud security monitoring solution offers benefits such as scalable virtualized software with seamless deployment which is one of the major benefits of enhanced, and necessary cybersecurity products.
Customization for the proper controls and architecture are important to ensure each network has the proper settings. The Paladin Cloud™ provides a cloud security monitoring solution that is customizable to each customer’s cloud environment, as well as a hybrid network security monitoring solution that combines cloud and on-promises security infrastructure. The technology looks for cyber threats and pinpoints areas to improve your network and fortify your security cloud architecture.
Contact SecuLore today to learn more about the Paladin Cloud™ and virtualized cybersecurity options to provide independent, third-party monitoring that is critical for your network.