Migrating to the public cloud can be a risky endeavor because it decentralizes or expands a business’s attack surface. In other words, the move can expose businesses to a variety of new ways bad actors can exploit vulnerabilities or poorly configured cloud settings.
With that in mind, an effective cloud security monitoring strategy is critical to business success. To put it simply, cloud security monitoring is critical to protect your data in the public cloud.
Read on to learn all about cloud security monitoring, including what it is, why it’s important to business success, and the specific benefits it provides.
What Is Security Monitoring?
From a practical standpoint, there are a few ways to approach security monitoring. For example, it’s possible to monitor cloud security using native security tools from cloud service providers. Leading providers like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure all offer tools for monitoring cloud environments.
To go further, a growing number of companies are also choosing to layer third-party cloud security solutions on top of these tools to obtain deeper visibility and greater control over their cloud environments.
When you boil it down, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to how your business approaches security monitoring in the cloud. The trick is to find the right cloud tools for your environment, maybe times that means piecing together a custom security framework that aligns with your unique business needs.
Why Do Companies Need Cloud Security Monitoring?
Many business leaders view the cloud as a managed service and an easy way to outsource computing and storage needs. But while cloud security providers (CSPs) may manage infrastructure and certain security elements, the cloud requires advanced security maintenance and support.
In other words, you can’t just outsource your cloud computing needs and hope for the best, especially when it involves a multi-cloud environment.
That’s because the majority of cloud security providers use shared responsibility models that require businesses to play an active role in securing and monitoring their cloud environments for threats and vulnerabilities. Cloud providers take care of the security of their cloud platform, while the customers handle the security in the cloud environments. Read on to learn more.
Here are some additional reasons why companies need cloud security monitoring.
Lack of Cloud Visibility
Businesses often lack visibility into their cloud environments for two primary reasons. The first is because they are ephemeral in nature and always growing. The second is that they rely on outdated, and ineffective tooling and processes. What once worked in the data center does not work for the cloud. This leads to blind spots and greater difficulty protecting data. In one study, 87% of respondents say they fear that a lack of cloud visibility is obscuring security threats to their company. And 95% blame visibility problems for application and network performance issues.
Cloud security monitoring provides deep visibility across multiple environments for real-time threat discovery and remediation.
Misconfigurations and Vulnerabilities
Cybercriminals often look for misconfigurations and vulnerabilities — or errors — that they can use to gain access to an organization’s environment through workloads, identities, or data stores. Oftentimes, they discover cloud security gaps long before companies do. When this happens, bad actors can enter without detection. In most cases, the affected organization is completely unaware of the breach and vulnerability or misconfiguration that enabled it. So by the time an organization becomes aware of the breach, the damage has likely been done.
With a robust cloud security monitoring solution in place, companies can discover and remediate misconfigurations like publicly exposed data stores, over-privileged Identities, lack of encryption, lack of auditing, or vulnerabilities in a workload in near real-time — before these issues can be exploited.
Data Exposure and Loss
Once data resides in the cloud, it’s very easy to lose track of it — which can lead to data leaks and breaches. Companies struggle across the board in understanding where their data is, what their data is (i.e., sensitive information), who or what has access to their sensitive data, and what those identities might be doing with it. Considering that data is what CISOs and security leaders are hired to protect, this is a huge risk.
Cloud security monitoring enables you to inventory all of your data, identify its significance and track it as it moves across various cloud environments and user devices. Not only does this limit exposure, but it also prevents an organization’s data from falling into the wrong hands.
How Does It Work?
Cloud security monitoring entails collecting cloud audit and log data and correlating it to detect suspicious actions or deviations from regular behavior.
When a cloud security monitoring solution detects suspicious activity, it can take various actions to prevent misuse or limit data exposure. This may include sending custom alerts, restricting access, and temporarily shutting down an account, among other things.
Benefits of Cloud Security Monitoring
In the age of high-profile data breaches, there’s no question that your business needs cloud security monitoring. If your company is in the cloud, it’s facing direct threats to its operational stability and sensitive information — and you need to take action to protect your environment.
Here’s a closer look at how cloud security monitoring can protect your business.
Staying on top of evolving compliance requirements is a top challenge for companies, thanks in part due to an ever-growing list of regulatory frameworks like GDPR, CCPA, and HIPAA.
Cloud security monitoring helps maintain compliance and prevent issues before they turn into costly incidents.
Avoid Cloud Drift
Clouds are highly susceptible to drift or change over time as identities come and go, workloads are spun up and down for seconds and business needs change. This, too, can lead to security vulnerabilities.
Cloud drift can be subtle yet still dangerous. The only way to prevent it from impacting your organization is to keep a close watch on cloud environments and track deviations when they occur. This is an overbearing task for manual efforts, which is where tapping into cloud security monitoring tools is handy.
Mitigate Identity Risks
Identity risks include person identities, like employees, and non-person entities, like services roles, pieces of computing, and so on. When identities gain too much privilege or an unnecessary amount, they pose a major risk. If a bad actor gets a hold of the right identity, they can run rampant in your environment.
Large companies often have thousands of identities – some human and some machine – to monitor, and it can be very difficult to keep track of all of them. Cloud security monitoring is a capability included in solutions like Cloud Infrastructure Entitlements Management (CIEM), which inventory identities, reveal their effective permissions, and monitor them to keep your identities at least privileged.
Companies are often hesitant to scale their cloud usage out of security concerns. Unfortunately, this prevents them from maximizing their investments and fully harnessing the speed and scale of the cloud.
With a cloud security monitoring tool in place, companies can more easily scale cloud usage without having to worry about their cloud becoming unmanageable.
Prevent Data Breaches and Data Loss
Data breaches and data loss often stem from mistakes like encryption not enabled, a simple misconfiguration, or vulnerabilities in workloads.
With the right tool in place and constantly keeping an eye on identity and configurations, you can better ensure your data is protected. Solutions like Cloud Data Loss Prevention provide monitoring to track your data’s movement and keep it at least accessed.
Improve Security Posture
Businesses need to maintain a strong security posture to attract customers, satisfy shareholders and build trust. Compliance, governance, configurations, and more all fall under the umbrella of your cloud’s security posture.
Cloud security monitoring is one of the key components of cloud security posture management (CSPM) or a process of continuously monitoring the foundational security of your cloud to detect deviations away from a set baseline.
Another benefit to using cloud security monitoring is it can enable swift and automatic risk remediation.
With this capability, companies can augment cybersecurity teams by providing immediate remediation in emergency situations and reducing employee fatigue. It can save time, lower remediation costs, and prevent hackers from exploiting security gaps and weaknesses.
With a focus on vigilance and the right set of cybersecurity cloud tools and expert resources, companies can make great strides in protecting their data in the cloud. The key is to be able to recognize the importance of continuous security monitoring and to be consistent and conscientious in addressing and managing it. While the cloud can offer more protection than most environments, it is critical that your security is implemented thoughtfully and continually.