Cloud-based data hosting and processing services are increasingly accessible, with many organizations migrating their on-premise digital assets to the cloud. When designing and implementing cloud security architecture, it is critical to ensure you are effectively defending against cloud security threats and using optimized tools and processes.
Read on to learn which best practices to implement.
How Can You Optimize Cloud Security Architecture?
Cloud computing assets require a different set of security implementations than physical and virtual on-premise IT assets due to the unique characteristics of cloud environments.
Optimizing cloud security architecture requires an understanding of:
- The various types of cloud computing assets available on the market
- Which tools can provide high ROI on cloud security
- Best practices for achieving robust cloud security
However, the most efficient way to optimize ROI with cloud security is to work with a cloud security partner who can advise on robust cloud security controls to meet the unique security needs of your organization.
Types of Cloud Computing Assets
Cloud computing assets can be grouped into cloud environments and cloud service models. To develop a high-performance cloud security architecture, you must understand which security controls pertain to each cloud environment and service model.
Types of Cloud Environments
Cloud-based services are typically hosted in three primary types of cloud environments:
- Public cloud environments – Hosted by third-party service providers on remote servers, public cloud environments are accessible via web browsers and include:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Cloud
- Private cloud environments – Offered by companies, private cloud environments utilize dedicated cloud-hosting resources to provide cloud accessibility to other organizations. Examples include:
- IBM Cloud Service Providers
- HP Enterprise
- Hybrid cloud environments – Combining the capabilities of both public and private cloud environments, hybrid cloud environments allow organizations to operate at scale, accessing the cloud at any time—with the option to optimize cloud environments.
Each cloud environment faces unique security challenges and requires the implementation of relevant cloud security controls to achieve a high standard of cloud security. When choosing which cloud environment to use, it is critical to factor in the scalability and flexibility of cloud security controls as part of the broader cloud security architecture within that environment.
Types of Cloud Service Models
On the other hand, cloud service models refer to the types of cloud services that meet different business needs within a cloud environment—they revolve around use cases and functionality.
The three most common types of cloud service models include:
- Software as a Service (SaaS) – SaaS is subscription-based application software that is managed and hosted by the SaaS vendor and provides accessibility to software applications via:
- Social media
- Cloud storage
- Marketing software
- Collaboration and messaging software
- Platform as a Service (SaaS) – Also managed and hosted by cloud service vendors, PaaS enables the development, operation, and management of cloud-based applications. Examples include:
- Google App Engine
- Microsoft Azure
- Infrastructure as a Service (SaaS) – IaaS provides access to cloud computing infrastructure via servers and networked resources hosted and managed by cloud service providers. Examples include:
- Amazon Web Services
- Google Cloud
- IBM Cloud
Each type of cloud service model meets different business needs and requires unique cloud security controls. Sometimes, cloud service models are secured by the cloud provider offering the services. However, it is essential to perform due diligence and ensure that all your cloud service models and environments supporting your cloud computing assets are secured with robust cloud computing security architecture.
Common Cloud Security Tools and Best Practices
The first step in optimizing cloud security architecture is determining which tools will safeguard your unique cloud environments and service models in your cloud infrastructure. With the vast number of cloud security tools at your disposal, it is critical to invest in those that best meet your cloud security needs.
Cloud Infrastructure Security Tools
Whether you fully outsource cloud security to a cloud service provider or manage it in-house, the security of your cloud infrastructure depends on a range of tools, including:
- Cloud security scanners – For swift and early detection of cloud security threats, cloud security scanners will notify your IT security teams of threat risks to:
- Cloud-hosted networks
- Cloud firewall perimeters
- Web applications connected to cloud environments
- Penetration testing tools – Routine testing of cloud environments is critical to early threat identification and helps mitigate cyberattacks. It is essential to conduct penetration testing of cloud computing assets when:
- Rolling out new cloud service models
- Switching to new cloud environments
- Optimizing cloud security infrastructure
- Patch management – Once you have identified gaps and vulnerabilities in cloud security, it is critical to conduct remediation steps via the deployment of security patches—ensuring you stay ahead of cybercriminals.
- Firewalls and antimalware – Optimizing your cloud security architecture also depends on how effectively you safeguard cloud environments from potentially malicious external traffic via firewalls and antimalware tools. Firewalls will secure various access points to cloud environments, including:
- Web applications
- Networked devices
- Remote endpoints
Cloud infrastructure security tools will help you safeguard your entire suite of cloud computing assets—whether servers, routers, networks, or devices—and strengthen your overall cloud security architecture.
Cloud Access Management Tools
One of the most common challenges to cloud security is unauthorized access to cloud environments by malicious actors or cybercriminals. By managing access to the various components of your cloud infrastructure, you can strengthen the integrity of your cloud security architecture. Two strategies for managing access to cloud environments include:
- Identity and access management (IAM) – By implementing IAM systems, you can gain systematically manage access to cloud environments via:
- Adding or removing user access privileges
- Designating admin or basic user privileges
- Automating user privilege management
- Enforcing organization-wide use of encryption (e.g., multi-factor authentication)
- Security information and event management (SIEM) – To gain visibility into who accesses your cloud environment, a SIEM can help. More importantly, a SIEM will help:
- Flag suspicious login attempts
- Notify dedicated security teams of forced elevation of privileges
- Collect user access data from both internal and external cloud environments
Implementing cloud access management tools will help optimize cloud security controls and enhance your cloud security architecture—especially with a cloud security partner.
Regulatory Compliance for the Cloud
Any organization that uses cloud computing assets to process, store, or transmit sensitive data may be required to comply with one or more regulatory compliance frameworks.
It is critical to maintain up-to-date regulatory compliance to ensure that your cloud security architecture remains efficient against growing cloud security challenges. The most common regulatory frameworks that will help optimize your cloud security architecture include:
- PCI DSS for organizations that process card payment transactions or transmit cardholder data using cloud infrastructure
- HIPAA for organizations within and adjacent to healthcare that store protected health information on cloud systems
- CCPA for organizations that collect, process, or use personal data belonging to California residents
- EU GDPR for organizations that collect, process, or use personal data belonging to citizens of the European Union (EU)
- HITRUST is a comprehensive security framework that optimizes cloud security controls for all the above frameworks
Compliance with relevant security frameworks will help safeguard your cloud computing assets and guide the overall implementation of industry-standard requirements for cloud security architecture. Furthermore, combining the recommendation of regulatory compliance frameworks and the safeguards of cloud security tools will enable your organization to stay ahead of cyberattacks, especially with the help of a cloud security service provider.
Build Robust Cloud Security Architecture
Defending your computing assets on the cloud can be optimized with the help of cloud security tools and the implementation of cloud regulatory compliance requirements. As an experienced cloud security partner, RSI Security will increase your ROI with cloud security, helping you build industry-standard cloud security architecture. Contact RSI Security today to get started!