7 min read
Eyal Katz

Multi-Cloud Security: 7 Essentials to Secure Complex Cloud Environments

This article reviews some common security pitfalls in multi-clouds and provides crucial tips on handling cyber security in complex cloud environments.

Multi-Cloud Security: 7 Essentials to Secure Complex Cloud Environments

Why have one cloud provider when you could have multiple? When cloud technology was the new kid on the block, most companies would settle for one cloud provider and move their infrastructure to it. This blind trust is gone: enterprises can now get the best features out of every cloud provider and take the benefits of on-cloud infrastructure to a whole new level, getting the advanced capabilities they need to scale and improve their products.  

Aside from offering more options, a multi-cloud environment provides risk mitigation, too – if one service fails, others take its place and keep the company’s service running. But is this operational safety net as safe as it sounds? 79% of organizations find security to be their main cloud challenge. Add operating multi-clouds to the mix, and you see your security concerns multiply. 

An introduction to multi-cloud security

The more complex your cloud operations are, the more challenging visibility over cloud activity gets, and the larger the unknown spaces where something terrible could happen. You need to ensure that your data is safe from infiltration and exfiltration and that no set-up errors have been made allowing users too much access. But it’s not just the expansion of your attack surface and the challenges that come with it you need to be worried about – you also need to deal with each cloud provider’s approach to security and ideally combine these into one foolproof security plan that works for your company. 

Enter multi-cloud security, a unified cybersecurity strategy to help you safeguard data, applications, and other virtualized assets dispersed over a multi-cloud environment. This strategy involves managing a wide range of unique tools, systems, endpoints, APIs, and procedures to protect your whole infrastructure. 

7 Essentials to secure complex cloud environments

Cloud environments are usually complex by nature, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find some standard points you could get behind to help you better work with and secure your cloud infrastructure.

1. Automate security

Automating complex security procedures increases the effectiveness of your threat detection and incident response while lowering the likelihood of costly errors. To get started, find the repetitive, manual operations that can be reduced to get the most out of automation so your security teams can devote more time to threat analysis and response. Automating monitoring procedures could help you stay one step ahead of the bad guys trying novel ways to access your cloud environment. Automation could also speed up plugging any new security holes discovered this way.

2. Unify workload visibility

One of the problems of a multi-cloud environment is that each environment is unique. You need to have separate access to each and deal with each different system’s quirks. One of the best strategies to manage that is to work with a unifying approach to incorporate your various cloud environments into a shared IDE-like environment. 

Control Plane enables dev teams to become platform-agnostic and consume any of the capabilities of AWS, GCP, and Azure cloud services regardless of where they run their code. The platform handles IAM and authorization uniformly, utilizing best practices, including least privilege principles, consistently and securely.

3. Understand your Shared Responsibility Model

The Shared Responsibility Model (SRM) shared between all cloud providers means that the service is in charge of the cloud security and the assets hosted on it, including physical security, data storage, network protection, host firewalls, and software vulnerability patching. Still, you are in charge of your configuration and how you utilize the tools and options of the cloud provider to achieve your security goals. Even though you may need more human resources or knowledge to configure your cloud environment properly, the responsibility is still yours. 

According to ESG research, only 13% of businesses understand their role in safeguarding their data as part of their various cloud providers’ SRM. Without knowing exactly what each provider offers and how to use it, you’re exposing yourself to potential problems where the standard answer from your provider would be, ‘It was your responsibility to set this up.’ 

4. Set up logs and audit trails

Even in a worst-case scenario where something terrible has already happened, it’s a huge help to have detailed logs and audit trails to learn from your mistake. Control Plane provides a tamper-proof audit trail facility, giving you unparalleled visibility into both your cloud and your actions in that cloud. With the tamper-proof audit trails, you also get visibility into any attacker sneaking in and attempting to hide their access by manipulating them.

5. Apply the least privilege principle

The least privilege principle is simple to explain but difficult to implement. Put simply; it means that users (both human and non-human, a.k.a machine identities) should have only the access they need for their work and nothing more. Why is it challenging to implement? Because users always want more access “just in case” they need it – asking someone else to solve a problem is a waste of time when you can solve it yourself with the proper access level. That’s probably why your organizational GitHub account has too many developers with the ‘admin’ privilege. It becomes even harder to maintain when you need a separate list of access and permissions for each cloud you’re working with, and you also need to keep these lists up to date when people come, go (get laid off or quit), or change teams. 

This is where Control Plane’s single control platform comes in handy – you only need to check your users on one platform instead of ALL of them. Additionally, Control Plane employs the least privilege principle automatically across all the clouds you’re working with, with the bonus that any action on any resource is subject to a fine-grained access control policy by default (policies are subject to your customization preferences).  

6. Combine security policies 

Combine your security policies from different clouds so that all your cloud environments work with the same guidelines and have no gaps. That means that authentication, authorization, and network access are all ruled by the same policies, no matter the cloud environment in which a particular process occurs.    

7. Audit compliance 

Compliance becomes even more critical when states and agencies constantly add new requirements in response to the latest cyber attack. With different providers having different compliance with various conditions, you must regularly audit your cloud environments using a unifying tool to ensure no compliance gaps. When you must comply with the SSDF, that means everything, not just one cloud development environment. 

Since different providers have different compliance features, certifications, and workloads, verifying that they comply with your company’s compliance requirements is vital. Additionally, you should ensure that the additional tools you employ to administer your cloud adhere to leading security standards like PCI and SOC2. In many cases complying with these standards could be the difference between gaining or losing a lucrative contract.

Security comes first 

In a recent guide by CISA, Shifting the balance of cybersecurity risk, multiple agencies reinforced that the responsibility for your code and app’s security is not on the user but the developer. Security is not just another “nice to have” feature; companies should make secure products by design and default. 

When dealing with multi-cloud environments, the first step to security is removing their complexity. Why manage multiple environments when you can review, control, and log everything from a single platform? The more security you can achieve with less work, complexity, and cost, the better it is for your business and users. 

Sign up to Control Plane today and start managing your cloud environments in one place.