The cloud has come a long way from Eric Schmidt's "modern" coining of the phrase in 2006. Today, companies and institutions are reliant upon a cloud infrastructure to run their day-to-day operations.
This reliance and growth have also transformed the threat landscape and your cybersecurity requirements along with it. Though cloud service providers are working ceaselessly to shore up vulnerabilities and bolster defenses, the responsibility for your cloud assets does not solely lie with them. Estimates predict that by 2025, 99% of cloud failures will be caused by the customer.
Recent news headlines like the SolarWinds breach illuminate the potential fallout of this gap in securing customer cloud base services and applications. A broad array of solutions to choose from, each with its own feature set, complicates the process further. Trying to distinguish between them can be daunting, which is where this buyer's guide comes in.
Our guide will dive into the hurdles of securing your cloud infrastructure and the opportunities present in streamlining your cloud security stack. We will explain the primary features of these cloud security solutions and how to select the right tool or tools to secure your organization's cloud applications. We will propose examples of several leading cloud security solutions to help narrow down your search before you even begin.
DevOps Challenges In The Cloud
Current software development relies on cloud services and APIs to increase productivity, information flow, and reliability throughout the CI/CD pipeline. Services such as Slack for interpersonal business communication and collaboration, GitHub for code management, or Amazon AWS and Google APIs for almost anything you can think of, from geolocation translations to on-demand server instancing.
According to GitHub's 2021 Global DevSecOps Survey, 60% of developers release code twice as fast thanks to DevOps, while 72% of security professionals rated their security efforts as "good" or "strong" due to the expanded use of SAST and DAST technologies.
As cloud solutions are becoming the standard and cloud spending is rising, cyber hackers have realized that new technologies can present new exploitable vulnerabilities. Inadequate credential management, secret leaks, misconfigurations, data breaches, lax security practices, account hijacking, and human error are just a few of the growing threats to cloud infrastructure.
Shifts in cyber-crime push cloud technology to the center of almost every cyber attack. Considering that nearly all organizations suffered at least one data breach in the past 18 months, the worry is warranted.
These figures align with a recent survey that found that 92% of security leaders report moderate to significant security gaps due to fast-paced cloud migration outpacing cloud security adoption. A lack of clear migration strategies and a tendency of organizations to perform a complete transfer to the cloud all at once make the situation worse.
The COVID pandemic hasn't done cloud cybersecurity any favors either. From January to April 2020, attacks against PaaS and IaaS cloud assets exploded by 630%, and cyberattacks against native cloud infrastructure and containers jumped 250% to over 16,000 incidents in the last year alone.
The steep rise in attacks against cloud assets and infrastructure makes it even more crucial not to underestimate the potential cost of a cyber attack. An outage to a single large cloud service provider like AWS or Azure lasting for 3-6 days has a cost estimate that could exceed $15 billion.
While the outcomes of a cyber offense are pretty severe, they are also relatively straightforward. The conditions that enable them are diverse. However, significant obstacles remain on the path to smooth, secure cloud migration.
Rising multi-cloud use across dev teams and projects
Each development team and project uses cloud infrastructure and SaaS apps in particular ways, and these don't always line up across various users, departments, and interfaces. Each tool has its unique security controls and requirements, making it difficult to manage access across the entire company.
This phenomenon has become so widespread that they have given it its own term -- "multi-cloud architecture." 92% of enterprises reported adopting a multi-cloud strategy to meet their cloud environment needs in 2020. This statistic lines up with a reported average of 2.6 public and 2.7 private clouds deployed per organization.
The same is true for SaaS applications. Depending on its size, the average organization uses between 102 and 288 SaaS apps simultaneously, and the average employee relies on at least 8.). As more teams within your company turn to cloud services and apps, managing their secure usage becomes increasingly convoluted.
Unclear shared responsibility
In theory, cloud security is a delineated, collaborative endeavor between cloud users and service providers.
However, the shared responsibility model is rarely so straightforward. There are specific inherent responsibilities between the service provider and users. Nevertheless, most applications and services between those clear divisions fall into a vast gray area of unknown responsibility.
Stressing the issue is a stark discrepancy between actual duties and what customers and cloud service providers perceive as a shared responsibility. More than half, and sometimes, almost two-thirds of these individuals erroneously believed the burden was on the other party.
Long resolution processes
The average business can save $1 million if they resolve a breach within the first 30 days.
Unfortunately, the average time to contain a breach was a worrying 80 days. Even more concerning is the fact it takes an average of 228 days just to detect the breach. From detection to resolution, that means the average breach takes nearly a year to conclude, a period that, for most organizations, would spell disaster.
The complexity of the ecosystem and number of product categories
The cloud ecosystem is becoming increasingly convoluted, and cloud security is along with it. On average, organizations use an average of 100 unique security controls. So it's no wonder that 70% of security specialists in these organizations believe there are far too many specialized security tools available and required to secure their cloud ecosystem. There are also a variety of product categories and subcategories that further obfuscate the situation.
Another thorn in the side of adequate cloud security is that each cloud provider uses its own convoluted and proprietary platform. Which, though architecturally rich, creates chaos. This chaos is due to each platform requiring its unique security controls and securing cloud assets requiring a novel approach and expertise for each. Last, there is a disconnect between users like developers creating new cloud accounts and workloads, and DevSecOps personnel, struggling to secure their cloud stack.
Now that the challenges to establishing a solid cloud security strategy have are clear, a baseline understanding of what these solutions can do in practice is necessary.
Critical Roles Of Cloud Security Solutions
Identification & visibility
One of the most challenging aspects of securing business cloud operations and applications is the many architectures, configurations, applications, and services relied upon by different teams within an organization. This variety creates a massive headache in terms of visibility. To complicate things further, individuals with little experience in cloud security often make purchasing decisions.
Cloud security solutions offer a centralized hub that presents clear security policies, access controls, cloud configurations, and usage across your cloud ecosystem. Having a scripted tool crawling your cloud ecosystem leaves little room for error, vulnerability, or even breach from escaping your notice.
It is especially relevant for cloud monitoring, as most companies rely on third-party cloud services that don't have complete access and control over the organization's cloud stack.
Active monitoring of your organization's cloud ecosystem is one of the preeminent elements of a successful cloud security stack. The reliability of service providers in delivering real-time threat assessments and vulnerability discovery has also subsequently increased. This includes measuring and analyzing cloud behavior in terms of data, applications, and infrastructure.
Through monitoring, cloud security solutions have become instrumental in proactively detecting and remediating vulnerabilities and malicious behavior within your cloud network. This promise of intelligent threat detection is one of the driving forces behind increasing cloud adoption and the migration of enterprise and business activities to remote cloud services.
Cloud security tools are not solely limited to preventing maleficence. They can identify areas where your workload and workflow can be optimized and analyze resource usage and allocation to detect potential future vulnerabilities and issues.
Cloud security solutions aim to optimize and quicken response times faster than most human DevSecOps professionals can react manually. A well-rounded cloud security solution will provide these services from detection to alert, remediation, and analysis.
You should also expect a clear and comprehensive Service-Level Agreement with any security service provider you choose in terms of mitigation time and quality of resolution. An SLA based only on response time helps little when you have an incident, and a quick response still leaves your cloud operations crippled.
The ever-shifting cloud environment causes various miscommunications and breakdowns in the chain of operations between departments. Cloud security solutions aim to protect your cloud ecosystem faster, easier, and overall cheaper. The time saved by tasking DevSecOps staff to actively protect cloud resources, each with its expertise required, cannot be understated.
Also, as previously mentioned, there is a significant issue with a lack of qualified staff to manage and secure cloud environments properly. These solutions remove a great deal of the pressure on management to find suitable personnel to fill the gap. This also extends to internal efforts within your organization to improve interdepartmental communication and coordination. Last, these tools are a proactive and intelligent method for testing and maintaining compliance and implementing consistent security policies for all cloud usage.
What To Look For When Choosing Cloud Security Solutions
As we've mentioned several times, cloud adoption and usage are rapidly increasing, which means solutions to secure these growing ecosystems need to scale with them. The trouble is determining what level scale is sufficient, as many vendors offer protection from any DDoS or similar attack regardless of the size. Yet, in reality, this is not always the case. Your organization needs to dive into any security solution's stated maximum capacity to ensure that when you need it, your security solution can protect you from the most multi-vector, large-scale attacks and breaches.
Cloud usage and migration are growing, and organizations' needs are pivoting and changing all the time. Cloud security tools need to be just as fluid and adapt to new platforms and technologies as they are introduced to the ecosystem. This also includes maintaining stability, regardless of sudden spikes in traffic, legitimate or malicious. A proper cloud security solution will provide your organization with the flexibility to avoid server disruptions and unnecessary downtime while optimizing lower-volume periods to lower costs.
The best kind of security is the one you never see but is working in the background silently. Any cloud security solution worth your time will help to significantly free up your DevSecOps resources and personnel while streamlining security controls. The incident response must activate within minutes or even seconds to mitigate the potential attack vector, which is prone to human error. For this reason, automated scripts running as part of the security solution should be a significant deciding factor.
Low impact on operations
Excessive cloud sprawl already takes its toll on efficient operations, so your choice in security solution must arrive with minimal impact. Your cloud security tools should also assist with testing for and remaining compliant with various security standards and protocols. That includes resolving non-compliance and other potential risks with little to no downtime.
Cloud computing, and cloud security, are evolving at a breakneck pace. Buzzwords and tool types that are fresh and shiny one day can be rendered obsolete shortly after. Your choice in cloud security tools should reflect these rapid shifts with a solution that is consistently and quickly innovating and adapting to whatever changes arise.
Cloud Security Tool Categories
Saying "Cloud Security tools" is about as broad as saying "Antivirus." It is truly a wide swathe of solutions, each designed to protect and maintain various aspects of your organization's cloud infrastructure.
Cloud security tools break down into six primary categories that fulfill a particular role in protecting cloud databases, applications, and containers:
CASB -- Cloud Access Security Broker
SAST -- Static Application Security Testing
SASE -- Secure Access Service Edge
CSPM -- Cloud Security Posture Management
CWPP -- Cloud Workload Protection Platform
CIEM -- Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management
What do all these four-letter acronyms mean? And what type of solutions do you need to keep your cloud data and services secure? Let's break it down.
The tools of the trade
What are Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) Tools
Top Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) Tools
What are Static Application Security Testing (SAST) Tools?
Top Static Application Security Testing (SAST) Tools
What are Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) Tools
Top Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) Tools
What are Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) Tools?
Top Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) Tools
What are Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP)?
Top Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP)
What are Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) tools?
Top Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) tools
How to select the cloud security tools you need
SAST credential security and privacy with Spectral
SAST credential security and privacy with Spectral
A SAST solution provides a safety net that captures sensitive secrets such as Passwords, API keys, security tokens, and other security credentials before they become publicly exposed due to human error or malicious activities. Such credentials may be lurking in places you least expect, including public code repositories, log files, server configuration profiles, and even team communication management solutions such as Slack. Spectral is a SAST solution that continuously evolves through the use of AI and machine learning algorithms. Spectral is a future-safe solution that recognizes new threats as they develop and reduces false positives reports through ML reinforcement feedback.
Deploying SAST in your organization can mean the difference between stable operations and a data breach that you may not recover from, or at the very least may cost millions in remediation. Investing in credential security automation is increasingly becoming a part of every modern DevSecOps that values reliable operation. Make it a part of yours.