Top 7 Cloud Security Best Practices for 2023

What is Cloud Security?

Cloud security refers to the measures that are put in place to protect data and information that is stored on cloud computing platforms. This can include measures to prevent unauthorized access, data breaches, and data loss.

Cloud security also involves ensuring that the cloud infrastructure itself is secure, and that the networks and systems used to access cloud-based resources are protected. In general, cloud security is designed to protect data and information in the cloud from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction.

1. Understand the Shared Responsibility Model

The shared responsibility model is a foundation of cloud security. It defines how cloud providers, on the one hand, and cloud customers, on the one hand, share responsibility for security. Typically, the cloud provider takes responsibility for securing their infrastructure, while cloud customers need to secure their workloads, data, and applications.

Examples of security responsibility that fall under the cloud provider are maintaining cloud infrastructure, preventing cyber attacks against cloud services, and making sure cloud services are highly available. Examples of cloud customer responsibilities include defining access permissions for sensitive data and correctly configuring security features of SaaS applications.

2. Manage User Access Privileges

User access privileges management is a security practice that involves controlling and managing the access that users have to data and other resources in a system. This can include setting up user accounts and defining the specific actions and operations that each user is allowed to perform.

In the context of cloud security, user access privileges management is used to ensure that only authorized users are able to access data and other resources in the cloud, and that they are only able to perform the actions that they have been granted permission to do. This can help to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data, as well as to ensure that users do not accidentally or intentionally cause harm to the system.

It often involves using the principle of least privileges, a security practice that involves granting users only the minimum level of access and permissions that they need to perform their job duties. This means that users are not given more privileges than they need, which can help to prevent unauthorized access and other security threats.

3. Establish Cloud Security Policies

Cloud security policies are the rules and guidelines that organizations put in place to protect their data and other resources in the cloud. These policies can cover a wide range of topics, including things like access controls, data encryption, employee training, and incident response.

Cloud security policies help organizations define their security objectives and to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to protect their data and systems in the cloud. By having clear and well-defined security policies, organizations can establish a consistent approach to security that is aligned with their overall business objectives and strategies.

4. Leverage Cloud Intelligence, Forensics, and Threat Hunting

Cloud intelligence, forensics, and threat hunting are three practices that are used to help organizations detect and respond to security threats and protect their data and resources in the cloud. Here is how these practices help improve cloud security:

  • Cloud intelligence: involves gathering and analyzing information about potential threats and vulnerabilities in the cloud, in order to identify potential risks and to take steps to mitigate them.

  • Threat hunting: helps proactively search for signs of potential security threats, in order to detect and respond to them before they can cause harm and prevent security incidents from occurring.

  • Cloud forensics: involves collecting and analyzing digital evidence in order to investigate security incidents and to identify the cause of the incident. It can help organizations to understand the root cause of security incidents and find evidence that can be used to hold individuals or entities accountable for those incidents.

5. Monitor Unusual Employee Behavior

Insider threats are a major concern in cloud computing environments, as they can result in the unauthorized access, disclosure, or destruction of sensitive data and other resources. Insider threats can be carried out by employees, contractors, or other insiders who have been granted access to an organization's data and systems in the cloud.

There are several dangers of insider threats to cloud computing environments. For example, an insider with malicious intent could steal sensitive data or intellectual property, or could disrupt the operation of critical systems. Insider threats can also result in compliance violations, as an insider may access or disclose data in a way that violates regulations or laws. Additionally, a breach or other security incident caused by an insider can be highly damaging to the organization's image and credibility.

Employee monitoring can be used to help protect against insider threats, as well as to ensure that employees are following appropriate security protocols when accessing and using data and other resources in the cloud. By providing visibility into employee activities, organizations can identify and address any potential security issues before they become a problem, and can help to ensure that their data and systems are being used in a secure manner.

6. Conduct Audits and Penetration Testing

Audits and penetration testing are two common practices that organizations use to assess the security of their systems, including their cloud-based systems. Audits involve reviewing an organization's security practices and policies to ensure that they are in compliance with relevant regulations and standards. Penetration testing, on the other hand, involves simulating an attack on the organization's systems in order to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers.

Audits and penetration testing can help organizations to identify potential security issues and to take steps to address them. By conducting regular audits and penetration tests, organizations can identify and remediate vulnerabilities in their cloud-based systems, and can ensure that their data and other resources are adequately protected.

Additionally, audits and penetration testing can help organizations to comply with relevant regulations and laws, such as those related to data privacy and security. By conducting regular audits and penetration tests, organizations can demonstrate that they are taking appropriate steps to protect their data and systems, and can avoid potential penalties or other consequences for non-compliance.

7. Ensure You Meet Compliance Requirements

Compliance requirements are the rules and regulations that organizations must follow in order to operate in a legal and ethical manner. These requirements can vary depending on the industry and location of the organization, but they typically relate to things like data privacy, security, and financial reporting.

Compliance requirements dictate the steps that organizations must take in order to protect their data and other resources in the cloud. For example, organizations that are subject to data privacy regulations may be required to implement certain security measures, such as encryption, to protect the personal information of their customers. Similarly, organizations that are subject to financial reporting regulations may be required to maintain certain records and to provide regular reports on their financial activities.

Cloud Security Best Practices with BlueVoyant

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Security

Microsoft Defender for Cloud is essential for securing valuable cloud-based applications and assets, offering visibility and control over workloads in Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS), and hybrid clouds, as well as on-premises environments. Microsoft Defender for Cloud protects against advanced malware and sophisticated threats and includes compute, network, storage, identity, and application workloads. Without Defender for Cloud, security professionals would need multiple tools to discover anomalies, identify threats, and generate alerts to protect their cloud-based assets and applications. In addition to identifying threats, Microsoft Defender for Cloud also helps assess an organization’s security posture and adds vulnerability detection and security hardening across all supported workloads.

With Microsoft Defender for cloud, businesses can manage infrastructure and apps anywhere, develop cloud-native apps faster, deploy Kubernetes platforms easily, and leverage Azure data and machine learning services. All cloud applications and data should be centrally protected under a managed detection and response (MDR) service.

Managed Detection & Response

Cloud Security with BlueVoyant

BlueVoyant Microsoft MDR experts are an extension of your team and remain vigilant 24x7; detecting, investigating, hunting, and helping you eradicate cybersecurity issues. We leverage Microsoft and your other security investments and work alongside you to keep cloud infrastructures, operations, and assets secure.

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