Skip to main content

Creating a Cloud Security Framework More Resilient to Security Risks and Privacy Threats

Cloud security framework represented by a server room, with a cloud hologram in the center.

Protecting your cloud data, applications, and infrastructure is more important than ever, with research from (ISC)2 finding that one in four organizations confirmed a cloud security breach in 2020 alone. The best way to tackle cloud security is with a holistic strategy that combines comprehensive policies with technology solutions, such as a cloud security framework.  

Creating a Cloud Security Framework More Resilient to Security Risks and Privacy Threats

Let’s take a look at the steps you should take to create a cloud security framework that’s more resilient to security risks and privacy threats.

Understand the Shared Responsibility Model

When you partner with a cloud provider to host your applications, data, and infrastructure, you’re agreeing to share the responsibility for the security of those resources. For instance, you won’t have physical access to your public cloud resources, so your provider will need to handle the physical security—door locks, CCTV cameras, alarm systems, etc. You’ll be responsible for other security measures, such as user access management, as outlined in your service contract. You should thoroughly read your service contract to ensure you fully understand where your provider’s responsibility ends and yours begins, so you can create a cloud security framework that doesn’t leave any gaps.

Implement Identity and Access Management

Controlling access to your resources is a critical part of any security strategy, and that extends to the cloud. There are a few critical aspects of access management that you should include in your cloud security framework:

  • User Access Policies – You need comprehensive policies outlining exactly who (users, devices, service accounts, etc.) has access to what cloud resources. The best practice is to follow the principle of least privilege (PoLP), only giving users access to the bare minimum cloud data and systems necessary for them to complete their job functions.
  • Identity and Access Management Solutions – To put your user access policies into action, you need an identity and access management (IAM) solution. Your IAM solution should integrate with all your cloud platforms, so you can apply enterprise security policies consistently across your on-premises and cloud infrastructure. For example, you can use resources such as Okta to grant permission sets created in the cloud to various users. Because you’ll be deleting their Okta access once they’re gone, there’s less risk than if you’ve forgotten to deprovision one of numerous accounts—instead, everything frlows down from account.
  • User and Entity Behavior Analytics – An optional but highly recommended access management tool, which might even be included in your IAM solution, is user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA). UEBA monitors the behavior of accounts and devices on your cloud and on-premises network and establishes baselines for normal activity. Then, if an account starts to behave erratically—potentially because it’s been compromised by a hacker—your UEBA tool can take action to block and isolate the suspicious entity before it can do too much damage.

Segment Your Cloud Resources

Often, when a hacker breaches your network, they’ll use a compromised account to jump from system to system, looking for the most valuable data to exfiltrate or causing as much damage as possible to cripple your business. They’ll even jump from your on-premises network to your cloud infrastructure, or vice versa. One way to prevent this lateral movement and reduce the blast radius of an attack is through network segmentation.

Essentially, you group related resources together into subnets or mini-networks, with some level of security controls between each network segment. At a bare minimum, your cloud infrastructure should be separated out from your on-premises network. Beyond that, you could create separate subnets for development, testing, and production, for example. Or you could segment individual workloads—for instance, creating a subnet just for a financial application and its interdependent databases and systems. The smaller and more specific your cloud resource segmentation, the harder it will be for hackers to move around your cloud infrastructure or jump back and forth to your on-premises network.

Take Advantage of Automation

One of your biggest security risks is your people. Many cloud security incidents are caused by misconfigurations—a typo in a firewall rule, a misunderstood security setting, or an admin password left on default, for example. Automation is your best weapon against human error. One way to use automation in your cloud security framework is with infrastructure as code (IaC).

Infrastructure as Code is essentially what it sounds like—infrastructure configurations that are written like software code. Rather than manually configuring all your cloud infrastructure, leaving plenty of opportunities for mistakes, you run code that automatically installs or updates your configurations for you. With IaC, the exact same code can be deployed to as many devices as you need, ensuring consistent and accurate configurations of all your cloud infrastructure.

Follow Cloud Security Best Practices

As you create your cloud security framework, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. In addition to the recommendations outlined above, you should follow cloud security best practices such as:

  1. Backing up your cloud data—and securing those backups.
  2. Using cloud threat intelligence, monitoring, and prevention tools.
  3. Conducting vulnerability and penetration testing on your cloud infrastructure.
  4. Establishing a security culture within your organization with comprehensive training for all staff.

There are also industry-specific cloud security frameworks that are designed to ensure companies meet compliance standards. For example, FedRAMP—the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program—provides a cloud security framework to ensure any organization processing data for the federal government meets compliance standards for privacy and security.

Helping You Create a Cloud Security Framework More Resilient to Security Risks and Privacy Threats

Following these steps and best practices should have you well on your way to creating your own cloud security framework. However, not every organization has the resources or skillset to tackle cloud security on its own. If you need help with your cloud security framework, you should partner with experts who can analyze your environment and develop custom, cloud-native security solutions to address your biggest challenges.