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For a multi-cloud business world, cloud-native security is the only way to go

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When it comes to cyber-security, a one-cloud approach in today's environment simply doesn’t fit - and only investing in just one service presents a number of limitations. Which is why, despite some potential challenges inherent in a multi-cloud strategy for enterprises, it is the best approach.

Every cloud service, private or public, offers varying advantages, from advanced machine learning tools to favorable storage costs. To take advantage of these, most organizations seek to employ a multi-cloud strategy in one way or another. To facilitate the needs of DevOps, agile, and the multiple cloud environments businesses are adopting, it requires a unified security platform. This solution should not only automate security controls but also ensure that the business meets compliance requirements for hosts and containers, no matter the cloud provider

To ensure cloud security is a success, businesses need to ensure three elements — unification, automation and integration — are incorporated into their security provision.

Be cloud-forward and join the modern security paradigm

More technology-forward companies of all sizes are realizing the benefits of multi-cloud strategies, but there is still work to be done as business leaders across different sectors take their enterprises on these journeys from different starting places. At its heart, a multi-cloud strategy helps prevent downtime, enables a company to be more agile, and to use the best of what each platform has to offer to drive faster business success. 

It is imperative that security solutions are able to keep up with the pace of expanding multi-cloud environments, as well as having the flexibility to work across any cloud and any service, so that workloads, security and visibility continue operating without friction. It’s a multi-cloud, multi-service world, and security solutions need to live in it.

Cloud grows the business… and the risk

The benefit of cloud computing is also its main drawback: Users can access cloud environments from anywhere with an internet connection - but so can cybercriminals and adversaries.

As containers introduce a new environment and a different management construct with Kubernetes, security teams are severely challenged to keep up. The result is an increase in risk due to poor visibility; fragmented approaches to detecting and preventing threats; misconfigurations for cloud workloads, containers and serverless; and the inability to maintain compliance.

As workloads move to the cloud, administrators continue trying to secure these assets the same way they secure servers in a private or an on-premises data center. Unfortunately, traditional data center security models are not suitable for 

cloud. Today’s attacks are sophisticated, and automated, only advanced, integrated security can prevent successful breaches. A consistent, integrated approach that provides complete visibility and granular control across the entire organization reduces friction, minimizes business disruption and enables organizations to safely, confidently embrace the cloud.

The model way to secure a cloud infrastructure is by focussing on staying ahead of adversaries, relentlessly reducing the attack surface, and obtaining total visibility of events taking place in the environment. Stopping breaches across cloud workloads, containers and Kubernetes environments using cloud-scale data and analytics requires a tightly integrated platform. Each function plays a crucial part in identifying vulnerabilities early, detecting threats, protecting at runtime and enforcing compliance, and they must be designed and built for speed, scale and reliability. Every aspect must be geared to speed, automation, and supporting the decision-makers with insights based on intelligence. Creating less work for DevSecOps teams helps them better defend against data breaches and optimize the security of cloud deployments.

Integration is one element that turns an adequate security strategy to a truly effective one. When examining legacy, non-cloud native tools, it's clear to see that they are not built to protect dynamic cloud environments; they are not optimized for cloud-native applications and make monitoring harder. Worst of all for the cloud era, they also require more manual intervention by busy security teams. In contrast, cloud-native solutions provide consistency across the entire cloud estate and beyond. Integrated tools allow security teams to use their time more meaningfully, as cloud-native solutions maintain security and compliance levels without the heavy lifting that on-premise tools used to require at all times.

This is important. According to a 2019 Gartner white paper, “Through 2023, at least 99 percent of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.” It also made clear: “Through 2024, workloads that leverage the programmability of cloud infrastructure to improve security protection will suffer at least 60 percent fewer security incidents than those in traditional data centers.”

To avoid this trap, focus on a very few key factors, all of which are people-centric. 

People need to know: Gain visibility and control across multi-cloud environments. Any security solutions must allow the IT team to enjoy continuous discovery and visibility of all cloud-native assets. Those protecting the enterprise must have access to context and insights into the overall security posture and the actions required to prevent potential security incidents.

People make mistakes: Prevent cloud misconfigurations, eliminate compliance violations. Security teams must be able to access intelligent monitoring of cloud resources to detect misconfigurations, vulnerabilities and security threats. To keep shaving down reaction times, guided remediation can support staff in resolving security risks as well as enabling developers to work within helpful guardrails, so as to avoid costly mistakes.

People get tired: Reduce alert fatigue. It’s essential that targeted threat detection continuously monitors for anomalies and suspicious activity, so security teams can know what is important to focus on. Where such a solution integrates with existing SIEM solutions, it will enable security teams to gain visibility, prioritize threats, reduce inescapable alert fatigue by eliminating noise from signal, and respond to and fix issues faster.

Combining the three elements described moves an enterprise towards a cloud-native security strategy and will help support businesses as it grows. Cloud-native security platforms provide visibility and control across public, private, hybrid and multi-cloud environments. This, alongside automation, can allow security teams to focus on larger tasks rather than identifying types of cloud misconfigurations that can be used to launch a cyberattack. Many problems are obviated much sooner - and the business runs smoothly.

So, as the business looks to multi-cloud solutions, within cybersecurity, a cloud-native, multi-cloud approach is also the only way to go.

Zeki Turedi, EMEA CTO, CrowdStrike

Zeki Turedi is an influential, tenacious and highly sought cybersecurity commentator, consultant and presenter. Zeki has extensive incident response & forensic knowledge within law enforcement, government and private sector. His specialties include incident response, malware analysis, threat intelligence, digital forensics, network forensics, digital investigations, data loss prevention, and advanced threat modelling.