Enterprises are generating and storing more and data in the cloud. Due to this the potential security threats are higher than ever. However, while the cloud has been embraced as a driver of efficiency, experimentation and scale in many more organizations today compared to say, 10 years ago, the traditional approaches towards security still appear to persist. However the use of cloud security principles are specifically made with the cloud environment in mind.
So what are some of the main threats to cloud-native applications today?
According to recent industry reports, a majority of companies still use a multi-cloud solution. This means they use multiple cloud environments from a wide range of vendors together. This is often a mix of multi-cloud and hybrid systems.
While the flexibility by such bespoke solutions may be considered a positive for many enterprises, it does raise issues. Including the main issue of users not being able to move from one cloud to another. The solution here, of course, is to share resources between different cloud providers. This is where the risks increase. With thousands of users utilizing multi-cloud devices, the security principles and requirements become ever more complex.
One of the major causes of some of today’s major data exposures and cloud violations is the misconfiguration of cloud data stores and IaaS. This can occur due to a variety of reasons. From the removal of cloud security settings, to the utilization of common codes, or simply providing users access to all resources.
According to the 2019 Cloud Security Report, around 40% of organizations cite the misconfiguration of cloud platforms as the main reason for cybersecurity concerns.
Many organizations may have switched over to full cloud solutions over the last decade. However, the majority of them are still in the transition phase This means they are currently operating in a hybrid-operating cloud computing environment. While this approach gives organizations some breathing room and time to make the transition over to a full cloud solution, it does elevate some security risks. Even for organizations with many resources, it is a challenge to track assets through the maze of a hybrid architecture. Not to mention monitoring activities through the web of multiple, hybrid cloud connections.
The containerized approach to development is of course one of the key features of cloud-native application development. The modular structure of containers (as opposed to the more traditional, monolithic approach) allows developers to have much more flexibility and rapid testing capabilities. All good things. However, there are some unique security risks that the containerized approach to development produces.
One of these security risks is that of ‘privileged flags’. Containers that use these flags can essentially do anything a server can do. So if an intruder or malicious entity gains access to a group of protected flag bins, they have the power to cause a lot of damage.
The other one to keep an eye on is the fact that it is often a challenge to enforce firewalls or networking regulations between containers and microservices. Which can often lead to unrestricted communication between containers, ultimately raising the security risks.
Containers can offer many advantages due to their short life cycle and fairly limited functionality. However, when containers have privileges or suffer from misconfigurations as mentioned above, a lot of damage can be done to the underlying host.
The risks above are just some of the many enterprises face when it comes to cloud security and security principles and standards. However, it is still a much better situation comparatively to the risks associated with an on-premises solution. Without security expertise, with an on-premises solutions, you may come under a massive attack due to multiple open ports and firewalls. However, in the cloud, it is possible to make the exposure much, much smaller. For example, by creating a container or a serverless function, you can tightly control access to individuals. The other advantage here is that there is a lot less need for high-end security expertise.
Furthermore, your security principles and standards can be easily defined and repeated across your entire cloud infrastructure. Thereby allowing everyone in your organization to quite easily understand the security definitions. This can ultimately lead to higher levels of compliance. Additionally making security principles easy to understand and replicating them throughout the organization means there is greater confidence in it. Teams are then much more comfortable in increasing experimentation, which leads to innovation.
Understanding cloud security principles is important because it provides a solid foundation to build the growth of your organization.