Hybrid cloud security aims to protect applications, data, infrastructure and other elements across an IT infrastructure that includes multiple environments, including at least one public or private cloud. Choosing a hybrid cloud setup affords organizations several important benefits. Most importantly, it allows them to gain the scalability, portability and flexibility benefits of the public cloud while still retaining the ability to manage sensitive or critical “crown jewel” data privately.
Understanding Hybrid Cloud Security
Using a hybrid setup allows organizations the flexibility to place workloads and data in specific environments based on compliance and security requirements or other considerations. Migration within this distinct-but-connected architecture occurs via containers or APIs. This allows an enterprise to run a business-sensitive workload within the more secure private cloud while putting less-sensitive workloads in the public cloud.
This flexibility is critical in terms of allowing organizations to leverage the benefits of public cloud while still allowing them to derive the security benefits associated with the private cloud — it’s a “best of both worlds” combination, but only if security issues are clearly addressed.
Hybrid Cloud Risks
Despite the advantages outlined above, there are important hybrid cloud security issues of which to be cognizant. These include:
Compliance challenges. Organizations that operate in highly regulated industries may have additional compliance rules to satisfy. Understanding how to meet baseline regulatory expectations when dealing with implementations is a key consideration.
Increased complexity. Using a hybrid setup means more complexity, which typically means more risk. Deep visibility and control of environments is needed to manage this risk.
Data exposure. Enterprises should take steps to limit data exposure, including strong encryption. Insecure data transmission between environments is a major red flag. Given this, understanding the best way to manage data exposure whether information is moving or at rest is an important consideration.
Vendor considerations. A hybrid environment will often include products from multiple vendors, so it’s important to have a grasp on how each vendor manages its software: The implementation guides they use, the tests they run, the patches they issue etc.
Hybrid Cloud Security Solutions
To protect hybrid cloud infrastructure, organizations need a comprehensive strategy and the right hardware and software tools. The components of hybrid cloud security include physical controls for hardware (cameras, for example); technical controls (such as encryption) and administrative contols (which include training programs).
In terms of software designed to offer optimal protection within hybrid environments, it’s important to look for a few key chracteristics. Some of the most important attributes to look for include the following:
Tools that offer deep visibility into hybrid environments and the ability to manage complexity.
Cybersecurity tools that provide continuous and automated protection are also of great value. While pen tests can provide point-in-time visibility into vulnerabilities, the ever-changing nature of the cloud requires ongoing analysis and testing.
Tools that provide visualization into AWS assets, and a variety of classification mechanisms to help users easily create likely attack scenarios, are also highly useful — especially if they have the ability to incorporate cloud elements (lambdas, S3 buckets, identity and access management roles etc.) into these scenarios.
In the same vein, a tool that can display the full chain of attack between public/private/on prem can also help enterprises understand their risk from the adversary’s perspective.
Finally, a software tool that offers exposure prioritization with risk context included is essential. It’s not enough to know where you are vulnerable; it’s also important to understand the true level of risk those vulnerabilities pose to your enterprise.
Ultimately, hybrid setups allow organizations to get the benefits of the public cloud without sacrificing critical asset protections. Yet this is only true if the right security strategy — supported by the appropriate software products — remain in place.