Cloud Security Needs a New Approach for Agile Environments

By: Jacqueline Lee| - Leave a comment

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For IT professionals, cloud security concerns prevail as the main barrier against cloud adoption. According to Cloud Research Partners, 53 percent of security professionals cite general security concerns as their main roadblock to the cloud, with 49 percent concerned with data protection and 42 percent with breaches of confidentiality. Meanwhile, a survey by AlienVault found 42 percent of organizations trust the cloud less than on-premises solutions, with 35 percent equally confident in both and a mere 23 percent expressing absolute confidence in cloud.

Under pressure to deploy applications faster, developers provision and take down cloud instances within minutes. This lightning-speed deployment and decommissioning cycle, especially when spread across cloud environments, generates visibility and data protection challenges.

Frank Dickson, an IDC security specialist, says most of today’s security tools are designed for homogeneous environments.

“There are tools that will help you manage Amazon Web Services (AWS) or an in-house infrastructure,” he tells Dark Reading, “but there’s really nothing out there that can help security pros manage across these cloud environments.”

Evolving Security Concerns

Over the years, malware volume has grown at an astonishing rate. Attackers have also figured out how to get more from their activities, using tools like ransomware to bring business to a halt. The biggest threats IT teams face now don’t come from known malware already in the database. Cyberattacks enable a thriving underground economy for participants to exploit both known and unknown application vulnerabilities.

Additionally, nation-states and other powerful actors craft invisible advanced persistent threats that evade detection on networks. They use strategies like social engineering to gain login credentials and then escalate privileges until they can access valuable data. Businesses that depend too heavily on traditional security methods such as perimeter protection and scanning often fail to notice these presences in their networks. Visibility becomes even more difficult as more workloads move into the cloud, especially in heterogeneous cloud environments.

IT Faces Market Pressures

In a global marketplace, businesses feel pressure to roll out innovations at high speed. IT’s products are applications that support business processes and initiatives, so in the face of competition, IT feels intense pressure to constantly deploy new solutions.

Agile methodology can speed up development, while cloud resources enable faster, more flexible production environments. Just remember that virtual machines and containers are easy to spin up, and they’re easy to forget when they’re no longer in use.

Additionally, few businesses are married to a single cloud provider. As cloud brokerage matures, it will enable IT to select the most affordable cloud alternatives for every deployment. The model gives IT departments advantages in managing costs, but in exchange, organizations must learn to live with increased complexity. Slowing down for cloud security competes with the cloud’s competitive advantage: faster application deployment. But without proper security in place, these deployments will only face challenges.

Agile Cloud Security

Automation tools like Chef or Puppet that offer configuration management recipes can make organizations more responsive, even with limited security resources. Instead of assessing every server, security teams can repeatedly assess their recipes and make the changes once before deploying them across environments. It’s impossible to protect all data, which means security teams must manage risk. Valuable proprietary data or information subject to regulatory compliance or deserves more attention and resources.

Thanks to limited multitenant security tools and a lack of available cloud security talent, protecting data has never been more challenging. For IT teams to succeed, they must establish effective security methods earlier without slowing development, so they can continue deployments without a hitch.

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About The Author

Jacqueline Lee

Freelance Writer

Jacqueline Lee specializes in business and technology writing, drawing on over 10 years of experience in business, management and entrepreneurship. Currently, she blogs for HireVue and IBM, and her work on behalf of client brands has appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur and Inc. Magazine. In addition to writing, Jackie works as a social media manager and freelance editor. She's a member of the American Copy Editors Society and is completing a certificate in editing from the Poynter Institute.

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