As a term, hybrid cloud is misleading. It could be easily mistaken as building two clouds, local or otherwise, when in fact, it refers to maintaining an on-premises data center and by extension a hybrid architecture. Securing this hybrid model poses many challenges.
When it comes to hybrid architectures, security teams should know exactly what type of set-up their organization uses, and where the most critical data is located - whether hosted in the cloud or stored in on-premises data centers. The biggest issue to hybrid architectures is the added level of complexity that managing cloud and on-premises environments bring. To limit complexity, businesses should opt for a shared responsibility model to delineate between the obligations of the cloud services provider and the organization’s staff - this is an important starting point for creating a consistent, strong and even cybersecurity strategy.
Security must cover every environment
It is also important to understand that threats are often not cloud-specific. Hybrid architectures are highly customizable, so the security requirements that an organization needs may vary as well. While some companies opt for minimal interaction with the data center portion of their cloud solutions, others may use it for all or most of their operations.
Adherence to a single process regardless of the environment will make the whole system run much more smoothly. However, mixed processes for both the cloud and traditional environments may not mesh well together. Businesses need to create an environment that takes into account the requirements for both cloud and traditional systems, this includes applications and platforms as well as business processes that form a traditional infrastructure.
Companies are under pressure to balance the need for the flexibility and scalability of cloud with traditional infrastructure, at the same time protecting their customers, employees and brand against increasingly more sophisticated cyber-threats. At AWS, we believe there are five top issues to consider when looking to a hybrid approach:
- Identity and Access Management - Security management is essential when integrating public and on-premises data centers into a hybrid environment. Identity and access management (IAM) is one of the most critical components to having a safe hybrid architecture, as businesses look to monitor and verify all access permissions trying to access their on-premises and cloud environments. Tools such as Access Management (IAM) offer control of users' access to services; creating and managing users and groups, and granting or denying access.
- Encryption - Organizations that want to take their cloud security to the next level must look into solutions that encrypt confidential data whether it resides on-premises or in the cloud. Growing regulation and a fast-evolving threat landscape have led to an increased demand for ubiquitous encryption. Advanced capabilities must be available across the hybrid infrastructure. These tools make it easy for organizations to create and control encryption keys to protect their data, wherever it resides, at rest and in transit.
- Data Redundancy - A lack of redundancy can put a hybrid architecture cloud and enterprise at risk. Think about it this way, if your cloud architecture has a single point of failure — and it fails — then you are in real trouble. In a hybrid model, the good news is you can use the cloud to build in a readily accessible, and possibly faster, secondary (or tertiary) method of access. Distributing data through the cloud can mitigate the damage that can occur when there is an outage in the on-premises data center.
- Weak Security Management - Too many organizations face issues when they fail to employ authentication, identity management, and authorization procedures for both their on-premises environments and the public cloud. It is vital that cloud security protocols are integrated into your infrastructure. There are a range of powerful security tools at your disposal, from firewalls and endpoint protection to vulnerability and compliance scanners. But often this leaves your team switching back-and-forth between tools to deal with hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of security alerts every day. To reduce complexity and bolster visibility, businesses should opt for a solution that aggregates, organizes and prioritizes security alerts and findings in one place.
- Shared Responsibility - No matter what kind of setup organizations employ, they need to adhere to a very important principle of cloud security: shared responsibility. With a shared responsibility model, the cloud should provide a globally secure infrastructure and foundation compute, storage, networking and database services, as well as higher-level services. Fundamentally, managing the cloud and on-premises data centers require setting security policies to minimize threats and protect the most important data well. This means implementing access policies, ensuring proper encryption, and managing the overall configuration of the cloud service to fit the needs of the business. Additionally, it extends to other security aspects such as updating and patching machines within the organization, monitoring the software installed on these machines and ensuring the tools and capabilities are in place to protect against growing security threats.
When looking to a hybrid-cloud architecture, security should be at the center of a business’s priority. However, this is easier said than done. It requires companies to have an understanding of the data that is flowing through their network, as well as full visibility over the business growth and the needs of their customers.
Businesses should opt for security services and features that customers can use to secure their assets and ensure they have the solutions in place to combat and evolve with both cybersecurity threats and regulation. Coupling a hybrid architecture with advanced security threat solutions, gives companies the infrastructure to adapt, grow and innovate with security at the core.