The good news with deploying applications in the cloud is that you can changes things fast in response to changing demands. The bad news? The same thing: you can change things really fast. And generally speaking, fast changes and security don’t mix very well.
Clouds Require a New Approach to Security
Cloud environments present a unique security challenge because the environment never stops changing. Where everything from VMs to containers to microservices are programmable, it can be hard enough to keep track of everything, let alone keep it all safe. To make matters worse, applications are frequently deployed in multi-cloud and/or hybrid cloud environments. So, now you have to keep multiple, continually changing environments secure.
According to Radware, “47% of organizations who operate on the public cloud deploy applications on more than a just a single cloud environment. There are many reasons why organizations leverage multiple platforms, but they all face a common problem: how to secure a rapidly changing application environment across multiple platforms?”
Clearly, deploying applications in complex cloud environments comes with complex challenges which require a new approach to security.
Unique Challenges in the Cloud
There are a handful of challenges that are unique to complex cloud environments. These include things like creating a cross-platform security perimeter and securing remote cloud infrastructure. Almost all of these challenges lead to a larger attack surface and increased vulnerability.
Perhaps the biggest challenge though is IAM (Identity and Access Management). According to an article on Forbes, “Gaps In Privileged Identity Management Are Keeping CISOs Up Most At Night.” The problem? IAM tools offered by Cloud Service Providers (CSP) do not scale beyond their own platform. From the same article, “Each public cloud IaaS providers’ approach to Privileged Access Management (PAM) is only reliable in a purely homogenous cloud environment based entirely on their cloud platform.”So, you’ve got multiple cloud environments, they never stop changing and there’s no easy way to control access to those multiple environments. That’s a challenge.
Addressing the Challenges
Some more good news. If you’re deploying an application in a complex cloud environment, you’re not the first to do so. That means there are best practices you can adopt to make your life easier.
From CIO.com, here are five cloud security best practices:
- Centralized identity and access controls
- Single pane management
- Adoption of zero trust principles
- Segmentation and secure connectivity
- Adoption of DevSecOps practices
It’s easy to see why each of these is a best practice for complex cloud environments. But, just because you identify best practices, doesn’t mean they are easy to implement. For example, we already discussed the challenge of centralized identity and access controls in multi-cloud environments. You know you should do it, but how?
Maybe the most important one on the list is number five: adopt DevSecOps. It’s important because it encompasses many other security best practices and bakes them right into the development lifecycle. And unlike number one above, there’s a well-defined capability specifically meant to implement DevSecOps: threat modeling.
Threat modeling is a discipline for implementing DevSecOps in a predictable and repeatable way. Acquire the discipline and you’ve achieved best practice number five.
The best news? There are commercially available platforms that take the mystery out of threat modeling and enable you to implement the discipline quickly and without any specific expertise. One such platform is ThreatModeler.
ThreatModeler assists in securing complex cloud environments by assuring a secure design, analyzing any infrastructure-as-code (IaC) and continually monitoring the cloud environment for changes. If you’d like to learn more about how ThreatModeler can help you secure cloud environments that never stop changing, reach out for a free demo.