The Impact of Cloud Computing on Network Security

The Impact of Cloud Computing on Network Security

The introduction of the cloud decades ago opened up all sorts of questions about security. Some didn’t trust it at all, some trusted it maybe a little too much. This same debate takes place today as the cloud becomes integrated into the fabric of every organization’s infrastructure.

The interesting thing is that both sides of this debate are right: The cloud can provide incredible security benefits, but it also has expanded the boundaries of network security. The cloud operates without clear physical boundaries, necessitating a move towards security models that focus not just on defending a perimeter but on securing data wherever it resides — which makes network security even more important than ever, particularly in hybrid environments.

To establish a strong security posture for your organization, you must blend the strengths of cloud computing with rigorous network security measures to protect your organizational assets.

Cloud Computing Introduced New Security Challenges

While cloud computing revolutionizes the way we store, access, and manage data, it also creates a much larger and much more complex threat landscape. This introduces several cloud security challenges including:

  • Data Breach and Data Loss Risks: The transition to the cloud increases your organization’s vulnerability to data breaches and loss.
  • Insider Threats: The risk of insider threats — misuse of cloud access by employees or partners — is greater and more difficult to control.
  • Compliance and Legal Challenges: Regulatory compliance is more complex and more stringent in the cloud. And as more cloud features and capabilities are introduced, regulatory bodies must adapt, making it imperative to stay up to date.
  • Cybersecurity Talent Shortage: It is more difficult than ever to source the cybersecurity talent equipped to address the sophisticated security demands of cloud computing.

Data Privacy Concerns Can Arise With Shared Infrastructure

The cloud is driven by the shared infrastructure model where responsibility for computing services and security are split between you and the provider. The provider is in charge of the physical servers, storage, and networking — basically, the foundation of the cloud services. Meanwhile, you are responsible for managing your data, applications, and how you use these services.

This framework is crucial for maintaining robust network security and ensuring compliance across different cloud service delivery models such as SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. However, this also bubbles up data privacy concerns and introduces risks such as misunderstandings of security obligations, potential security gaps, and compliance challenges.

Shared Responsibility Models Require Clear Delineation of Responsibilities

Because you and your cloud provider share control over different parts of the infrastructure, it’s crucial to clearly understand who is responsible for securing each part — and to be diligent in securing your piece of the pie.

Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are responsible for:

  • Infrastructure Security: Includes physical, network, and host-infrastructure security.
  • Compliance Certifications: Ensuring the cloud services meet regulatory and compliance requirements.

You, the customer, are responsible for:

  • Data Protection: Implementing encryption and access controls.
  • User Access Management: Defining access levels and monitoring for inappropriate access.
  • Application Security: Securing applications developed or hosted in the cloud.
  • Network Controls: Implementing firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and other network security measures.
  • Compliance and Governance: Ensuring data and applications comply with relevant laws and regulations.

The challenge is ensuring that you both meet your responsibilities to prevent data breaches and maintain privacy. In your case, this means expanding network security with things like multi-protocol label switching, UTM devices, and network behavior anomaly detection (NBAD).

Hybrid Environments Combine On-Premises and Cloud Resources

Hybrid environments offer a lot of benefits for companies that want to maintain some control over their infrastructure while still taking advantage of the benefits of cloud computing. But it comes with its own security challenges. Here’s a strategic framework for hybrid security:

  1. Holistic Cloud Security Strategy:
    1. Implement strong access controls.
    2. Conduct regular audits and employee training to mitigate risks effectively.
    3. Employ Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP) for visibility, risk assessment, and support for DevSecOps workflows.
  2. Compliance and Standardization:
    1. Address compliance challenges with automation, repeatability, and reproducibility.
    2. Standardize business and security processes across public and private clouds to minimize human errors and security gaps.
    3. Encrypt data in transit and at rest, especially between private and public clouds.
  3. Automated Security Measures:
    1. Organize security processes into automated workflows to reduce human error.
    2. Implement automated DevSecOps pipelines for efficient software development and deployment.
    3. Utilize Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) tools for enhanced visibility and control over distributed systems.

    Encryption and Access Controls Are Critical for Securing Cloud Data

    Encryption safeguards your data at every step of its journey, from your side all the way to where it’s stored on the server, while access control ensures only authorized users can access and see sensitive information.

    When your data is on the move, stored away, or even in use, make sure it’s encrypted to prevent unauthorized eyes from seeing it. Keep your encryption keys with you, not with your cloud provider, to strengthen your data’s security.

    Update and manage these keys regularly to block any unauthorized access to your data. Remember, encrypting your data doesn’t just keep it safe from unauthorized access; it also keeps it accurate and reliable. For sending your data safely to and from cloud servers, rely on TLS/SSL protocols.

    For access control use strong authentication methods like multi-factor authentication and role-based access control (RBAC) to check user identities and control who gets to see your encrypted data.

    Find Skilled Cloud and Network Security Professionals with MRINetwork

    In addressing the critical need for cybersecurity professionals who understand cloud security, it’s essential to partner with organizations who can help you find talent that understands the challenges of network security in cloud environments.

    MRINetwork has successfully placed over 300 cybersecurity professionals since 2021, many of whom possess transferable skills from other sectors. This success underscores the importance of a well-planned hiring strategy in navigating the evolving landscape of cloud security.