What is Hybrid Cloud Security? Challenges and Best Practices
What is Hybrid Cloud Security?
Hybrid cloud security refers to the safety of information, services, and infrastructural facilities associated with an IT framework that includes some level of workload mobility, instrumentation, and administration across different IT platforms, along with a minimum of one public or private cloud.
An important point to note here is that protecting sensitive data and resources from leakages and cyber-attacks is a responsibility shared by both the enterprise and its cloud services providers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud. While cloud service providers are responsible for protecting the infrastructure, the businesses are responsible for protecting their application layer by adopting best practices that we will later discuss in this article.
Some major benefits of adopting a Hybrid Cloud model include scalability, lower long-term costs, better control, enhanced speed, and stronger security. According to David Smith, a VP Analyst of Gartner “Most enterprises will adopt a hybrid cloud strategy, as almost no company can afford to put everything in a public cloud or do everything itself”.
What are Hybrid Cloud Security Challenges?
The deployment of infrastructure on both public clouds such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and AWS and on private clouds such as OpenStack increases complexity and risk. As an enterprise’s cloud environment starts to grow it becomes even more complex to view and control the distributed systems that form the cloud infrastructure. This creates a visibility problem as enterprises aren’t able to monitor what’s going on in their cloud environment. As a result, security breaches, vulnerabilities, and incidents can be overlooked as there is no real-time information available.
Authentication and Authorization
As businesses move more towards a hybrid cloud they must be mindful of security concerns related to authentication and authorization. This is because data may be accessed from both on-premises and public cloud environments and without proper security measures, you run the risk of unauthorized access and data leaks.
Vulnerability during Data Flow
As companies increasingly adopt hybrid cloud models, it is important to be aware of the potential security risks involved in moving data between public and private clouds. One of the most significant risks is the possibility of data being intercepted or modified by an intruder during transit. This can happen if data is not encrypted or if communication channels are not properly secured.
In a hybrid cloud environment, data and applications spread across both on-premises servers and the cloud server make it difficult to keep track of configurations and standardized security procedures. Misconfigurations can occur when IT staff are not familiar with the hybrid environment and do not properly configure the security settings.
As data flows through a highly secure private cloud and a less secure public cloud it can pose a significant threat in terms of data leakages and compliance issues. A major task for all enterprises whether they are operating in a simple or highly complex cloud environment is compliance with data sovereignty laws such as HIPAA and following the GDPR compliance rules. This is particularly important for companies that are operating in highly regulated industries such as finance, healthcare, and government.
Furthermore, the most challenging aspect of ensuring compliance is the fact that many companies still rely on manual processes to check for compliance and ensure that they are meeting all security requirements which is a tedious, complex, and error-prone process, particularly when dealing with a mix of cloud-based and on-premises systems.
Also, compliance is an ever-growing list of security regulations, and keeping track of these constantly changing requirements for organizations with a mix of on-premises and cloud-based systems is a challenge.
Many organizations are struggling to find people to fill a variety of roles related to the cloud, but identifying and hiring security professionals having significant expertise in both public and the private cloud takes the challenge to a whole other level. One way to counter this challenge is to provide internal and external training to the employees, however, this might not be possible for every organization as they do not have the funds to sponsor such costly training.
Mis-matching to tools or vendors
Many of the existing vendors and tools that support private cloud environments are not well suited for public clouds. This is because traditional security solutions are often designed with on-premises or private cloud environments in mind, and may not provide the same level of features and functionality as public clouds. As a result, organizations may find themselves challenged when it comes to securing their public cloud deployments.
Supply Chain Risks
Hybrid cloud systems taking the benefit of using products and services from different vendors are also potentially at risk because of the same reason as all it takes is for one weak link in the chain to be compromised, and the whole system can be at risk.
Shifting of Responsibilities
As organizations move more of their applications and workloads to the cloud, it is important to understand the changing security landscape. In a public cloud environment, the responsibility for security shifts incrementally to the cloud providers while in a hybrid cloud environment, the responsibility for security is shared between the organization and the cloud provider. This can create complexities in terms of having a clear understanding of the responsibilities of each party. Moreover, it can leave room for threats that have been overlooked during the process.
As a result, the client organization is naturally less prepared to deal with SLA issues that may arise. Additionally, the client may be less likely to have visibility into the CSP’s operations, which can make it difficult to identify and resolve problems in a timely manner.
Hybrid Cloud Security Best Practices to Overcome Challenges
The amount of data kept in the clouds is growing along with its usage, making data protection, confidentiality, and authorization crucial. Storage of data and transmission to many platforms and users is a time-consuming and delicate process.
Consequently, a few approaches or tactics for stopping security breaches and leaks are provided here with the security of data as the primary goal.
Concrete Planning and Evaluation
As firms increasingly move to hybrid environments, it is essential that they take the necessary steps to protect their data and resources. A comprehensive evaluation of the security requirements is one of the key stages in this process. This enables customers to choose suppliers with the capacity to deliver the same degree of security and assess the cloud providers’ capabilities in light of their security requirements. By taking this approach, firms can ensure that they have the level of protection that they need in order to maintain a secure environment.
Regular and Comprehensive Monitoring
By sharing the responsibility of monitoring the hybrid cloud setup, organizations can be sure that their data is safe and secure as reliance only on cloud service providers for monitoring can be damaging.
No matter how good your cloud service provider is, it is advisable not to blindly trust the public cloud. For this purpose, it is important to set up a comprehensive monitoring system where vulnerabilities, security threats, and trespassers’ entry points can be regularly monitored.
Conduct Regular Assessments
In order to ensure the security of an enterprise’s data, it is essential to regularly assess the accessibility of the system. Technology professionals can use external supervision and visibility options to confirm both the security and access control. In addition, enterprises should check and authorize individual accessibility on a regular basis. By taking these measures, enterprises can safeguard their data against potential threats.
The Data Encryption technique is employed by many companies for the security of hybrid clouds as even if a single physical machine that contains encrypted data is compromised, they would not be able to read it without the key.
Data at rest, such as files on a hard drive, can be encrypted using full disk encryption software. Furthermore, full hardware encryption should also be done by using Trusted Platform Module (TPM).
This will keep the hardware locked until an authorized user logs in.
Data in motion, such as communication over a network, can be encrypted using transport layer security (TLS). Moreover, network sessions should also be encrypted as it provides more security to data in motion.
As discussed earlier, a major challenge with the hybrid cloud security model is that it is full of complexities which in turn create a visibility problem.
Hybrid cloud environments present security challenges that cannot be effectively addressed using manual processes. Security automation can play a vital role in mitigating the risk of damaging security breaches in hybrid cloud settings.
By configuring various devices on the network to produce relevant logs and security data, and designing a central system to intake, process, and provide close real-time threat visibility, security automation can help to quickly identify potential abnormalities and take appropriate corrective action.
Dependable Backups and Recovery Methods
Backups are essential for any data that needs to be preserved, whether it is stored on-premises or in the cloud. In the event of a system failure or disaster, backups can be used to restore lost data. In the case of public clouds, data backups are mostly managed by CSPs but on-premise clouds that are part of hybrid cloud networks, need data backup and recovery processes. When choosing a backup solution, it is important to consider the type of data being backed up, the frequency of backups, and the storage capacity required.
Compatibility of policies
In addition, companies must also be careful to ensure that their data privacy policies are compatible with both public and private cloud environments. By taking steps to secure data in transit and ensuring compatibility with privacy policies, companies can reduce the risk of data breaches and protect their hybrid cloud deployments.
A key ingredient to success when working with hybrid cloud models is a shared responsibility matrix that outlines areas of responsibility for both the customer and service provider. Without this delineation, it’s easy for companies to become reactive instead of proactive when it comes to meeting their business goals.
Organizations should draft comprehensive SLAs that clearly define the responsibilities of both parties. Furthermore, they should regularly assess the CSP’s performance to ensure compliance with the SLA.
Additionally, a lack of clarity around the shared responsibility model can result in unmitigated threats and unaddressed capabilities, both of which can prevent an organization from scaling. In order to avoid these pitfalls, it’s essential that companies take the time to develop a clear and concise operating model that outlines the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in the hybrid cloud ecosystem.
Secured Supply Chain
When evaluating software from a 3rd party or service provider, it’s important to check how they approach and practice safe security controls. This includes looking at their policies and procedures for identifying, addressing, and preventing security vulnerabilities in their products to ensure the strengthening of whole network security.
Moreover, a deep understanding of their product and where it came from are important checks that you should make before choosing the service provider.
Hybrid Cloud Security Architecture
The panorama of cyber threats is wide and ever-changing. Although they are useful in protecting workloads, independent cybersecurity and data privacy solutions create holes in an enterprise’s defenses. To supply dependable security for contemporary workloads throughout several domains, a multi-layered strategy including the newest cyber security technologies with data authentication and encryption is required.
Security experts often use encryption to protect data in an environment where there is no trust, as offered by a hybrid cloud environment. For the service network to be comprehensive, encryption techniques must be used at every layer which covers:
- Data transfer
- Distant storage
- Backend operations, including the operating system and software content encryption at the server level
Controls for Hybrid Cloud Security
The hybrid cloud requires physical, technological, and organizational security controls on several levels.
Physical Security Controls
Security systems for the virtual server elements are the concern of the vendors where businesses have the choice of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) which defines the physical security controls that will be met. But the internal system should be equipped with CCTV cameras, locks, restricted accessibility, and a regulated environment in regards to warmth, moisture, water leakage, etc. for the proprietary cloud.
Technical Security Controls
The core of hybrid cloud computing security is technological controls. To maintain effective data preservation and avoid security breaches, several security policies and safeguards must be taken into account. These often consist of:
Deduplication or Encryption
Different encryption techniques are required for rest and in-transit data. Assure appropriate network session deduplication for data in motion. Moreover, make sure to use hardware and whole disc deduplication for data that is at rest.
This makes sure that even if a physical machine is compromised the data is not readable.
Secure communications between constituents operating in various settings are made possible by virtual private networks.
By using an automated approach you’ll be able to stay on top of everything and will, therefore, adopt a more proactive approach rather than a reactive approach when dealing with risks, threats, and security concerns. Furthermore, this enables businesses to satisfy security tests by formulating guidelines, and process verification.
Combining Automated Operations
This is a method used to automate all the processes and links required to handle operations on both public and on-premises clouds. To carry out certain operations, cloud automation solutions incorporate integrated activities and procedures into a workload.
Restriction on User Access
This is an important stage in the transition to a hybrid cloud environment that aids in preventing illegal access. Businesses utilize this capability to fulfill security criteria and grant controlled access to authorized users. Only limited access is granted to individuals and two-factor authentications are required in order to mitigate any security risks.
Companies may defend against cyber-attacks by using terminal security to safeguard authorized users’ devices connected to the public cloud or private network.
What this basically means is that if a user’s tablet, laptop, or mobile gets stolen or hacked then the security professionals should be able to remotely restrict access or completely wipe off data.
Administrative Security Controls
Administrative security controls deal with human errors through which security loopholes might be created. It is important that a proper structure is in place that guides every user about their responsibilities toward the security of the cloud environment. Executive security requires written policies and guidelines like:
- Processes for assessing risks
- Disaster preparedness strategies
- Guidelines for data security
- Staff training
Hybrid cloud security FAQ
What are the limitations of the hybrid cloud?
- Security Issues
What are the top cybersecurity concerns about hybrid clouds?
The top 4 security issues of a hybrid cloud environment are:
- Hybrid cloud vulnerabilities are being caused by the visibility challenge.
- Transmitting cloud data insecurely.
- Dropping Below Compliance.
- Threats in the supply chain
What is the main security risk associated with cloud services?
The most frequent potential threat associated with cloud services is the loss of data. It is sometimes referred to as data leakage.
How is the hybrid cloud secure?
By integrating numerous levels of interconnected gateways, network surveillance systems, and deduplication, cloud vendors generate a special requirement for hybrid cloud protection to secure private information in communications, accounting transactions, and storage.
What distinguishes a multi-cloud from a hybrid cloud?
An organization that uses both private and cloud services or technology is said to be operating in a hybrid system. While a multi-cloud atmosphere makes use of products from many cloud providers, such as utilizing the services of both Azure and Amazon.
What are the significant focal aspects for the protection of hybrid clouds?
- Consider sharing responsibilities for hybrid security
- Streamline procedures
- Set up secure cloud instruments and processes
- Check-in every place
- Control user access in hybrid contexts
- Ensure responsibility and exposure
- Safeguard data
Why are security features important in a hybrid cloud?
Security is an important element of any cloud whether it may be hybrid or multi-cloud. The reason is that confidential information and data need to be protected from getting leaked or hacked.