The cloud is quickly replacing traditional on-premises data centers but the trade-off is that you rely much more heavily on cloud providers to handle the security of your hardware and data. Even so, due to the shared responsibility model in cloud computing, you cannot completely outsource security management to your cloud vendors. You also need to take precautions against cyberattackers targeting your organization.

Here are just 8 simple and specific steps to harden the security of your cloud infrastructure:

  1. Detect cloud misconfigurations: Cloud misconfigurations occur when a user sets up cloud services improperly or specifies settings that do not provide adequate security for the data stored in the cloud. For example, a misconfigured Amazon Web Services S3 bucket could result in the exposure of critical data to the public. Cloud misconfigurations are arguably the leading cause of data breaches that take place on the cloud. And in the majority of cases, it is only due to a single misconfiguration that the breach occurs. This challenge is made more difficult due to the shared responsibility model inherent in cloud computing.

    Regular and comprehensive security audits of the cloud infrastructure should be done so these misconfigurations can be rectified and vulnerabilities can be detected. Effective user education can prevent cloud misconfigurations.

  2. Perform penetration testing: It's always better for you to hack yourself before an attacker does it for you. You should evaluate the security of your cloud infrastructure by simulating a cyberattack. This can reveal vulnerabilities and enable you to grasp your organization's security maturity.

  3. Adopt a security framework, such as MITRE ATT&CK or NIST: A security framework, such as MITRE ATT&CK or NIST, can bring much-needed structure to building a security strategy. While the ATT&CK framework lets you know about the different kinds of adversary behavior you should be wary of, the NIST framework provides effective guidelines to monitor, identify, and recover from incidents.

  4. Gain visibility into all cloud activity: Most organizations around the world have adopted a multi-cloud strategy wherein they use cloud services from multiple vendors. This allows them to distribute their assets, data, applications, and storage across multiple hosting environments.

    While a multi-cloud strategy does have benefits, it also makes it harder for you to monitor what's happening across the cloud at any point in time. An effective security information and event management (SIEM) solution that centralizes the information garnered from all cloud platforms and alerts security analysts in the event of a mishap is critical. Anomaly detection techniques should also be used to observe any abnormal activities performed by users on any host.

  5. Minimize risk with strong authentication and authorization: Implement tight identity and access management controls to ensure that only authorized people have access to resources in the network. The principle of least privilege should be followed, and the Zero Trust security model, which recognizes trust as a vulnerability, should also be put into practice. Just-enough-access, just-in-time access, and multi-factor authentication should also be implemented to enhance security.

  6. Block IP addresses associated with suspicious behavior: Using the right threat intelligence tools can alert you about impending attacks. You can learn about malicious URLs, IPs, and domains that could target your organization's network and take the required action to block them.

  7. Introduce a cloud access security broker: A cloud access security broker (CASB) is a policy control and cloud visibility mechanism that sits between the cloud service users and the cloud applications. This software monitors all the activities that users do in the cloud and also enforces security policies. The CASB could either be an on-premises deployment or a Software as a Service application. A CASB can help a company monitor all user activity in the cloud.

    When a CASB is integrated with a SIEM solution, a security analyst can get deeper context surrounding a user’s cloud activity for an investigation.

  8. Train your employees to make security a priority: Employees should be trained regularly to make sure that they don't fall victim to an account compromise. It may be necessary to train your employees at least once every six months.

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