You’ve heard it before. A company gets breached, its critical data made available, and its brand suffers as a result. Hacking events like these demonstrate how vulnerable organizations (and their users) can be. With such grim headlines, it’s not surprising that some companies are still reticent to adopt cloud technologies. Implementing and following cloud security best practices can provide that missing peace of mind.
The reality is that cloud is more secure than news media horror stories lead you to believe. Do some research into recent breaches, and you’ll find that they’re almost always due to people misusing technology—abusing the very security protocols that could have protected their environments in the first place.
Cloud is More Secure Than You Think
Cloud infrastructure is not in itself inherently more vulnerable to attack.
Rather, the danger lies in the ill-informed (or just overwhelmed) users who implement poor cloud settings and ineffective security protocols. In fact, Gartner predicts that, by 2022, at least 95% of cloud security failures will be the user’s fault—not the cloud provider’s. Consequently, Gartner encourages companies to standardize their public cloud protocols by:
- Developing an enterprise cloud strategy that determines what data can be stored in which cloud and under what conditions
- Outlining leadership and employee expectations (by enforcing cloud ownership policies, responsibility and risk acceptance guidelines, and control protocols)
- Following a “life cycle approach to cloud governance” that illustrates the implementation and control of the cloud models your company uses (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc.)
- Implementing a centralized management and monitoring hub to simplify the “inherent complexity of multi-cloud”
By clearly defining expectations and responsibilities for public cloud use, IT teams can mitigate many of the security risks that human error poses.
Most important to keep in mind is that each cloud service has its own unique security features and interfaces that can pose different security benefits and challenges for your teams (if they are not properly optimized). As such, upper management and IT teams alike should familiarize themselves not just with cloud security best practices, but also with the implementation, management, and control protocols of your company’s cloud environments to ensure more effective visibility and control. And general users should receive training (and testing) on best practices for maintaining security protocols when interacting with your cloud environments.
How Secure is Amazon Web Services?
Take AWS, for example.
As the world’s largest on-demand CSP, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has over a million customers who count on AWS to maintain security, increase privacy, and control network access. Intrinsically, AWS has numerous security capabilities built into its infrastructure to defend against security breaches.
More specifically, AWS has network firewalls built into the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, complete with WAF capabilities. These firewalls enable you to create private networks as well as specifically control access to applications and instances. AWS also gives you the option to connect via a private or dedicated connection from your office or on-premise environment.
To protect data in transit, AWS uses TLS encryption across all services; for data at rest, AWS provides additional security parameters with scalable encryption features available through AWS storage and database services. AWS Key Management Service offers flexible key management options that enable you to manage encryption keys in-house. Moreover, you can also integrate encryption and data protection with any of the services you use in your AWS environment with APIs provided by AWS.
To Be Secure, You Need to Follow Cloud Security Best Practices
Your “as is” cloud environment should not be your only defense. These AWS features and services are only as effective as you make them. For more comprehensive security, you must optimize each AWS offering and setting to the unique needs of your environments.