A Comprehensive Guide to Cloud Security—Risks, Best Practices, and Certifications 

A Comprehensive Guide to Cloud Security—Risks, Best Practices, and Certifications 

 

It’s 2024 and if you are still evaluating whether or not to migrate to the cloud, you are already behind 94% of companies. Many organizations are investing in transformative technologies like generative AI and cloud computing because they help them reduce operating costs and scale up their operations with limited capital investment.  

Moreover, moving from traditional solutions to modern solutions like cloud computing or generative AI tools offers numerous advantages, such as enhanced flexibility and global accessibility. But these benefits are accompanied by security issues. Thankfully, there are different strategies and tools that can protect your organization from these security issues.  

If you are migrating to the cloud, our cloud security guide will help you understand more about cloud computing security risks and best practices. Let’s start with understanding what cloud security is and how it works.  

What is Cloud Security, and Why is it Important? 

Cloud security, also referred to as cloud computing security, encompasses a set of processes and tools that safeguard cloud-based infrastructure, applications, and data from security threats like Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and Malware. Additionally, these processes and tools can verify users and authenticate devices, regulate access to data and resources, and uphold data privacy standards.  

Cloud security is extremely important as more and more people are switching to cloud  

computing. A Gartner report forecasted a 23.1% increase in public cloud services spending in 2021, indicating the rising demand for cloud security to safeguard data and applications. Moreover, the emergence of big data has resulted in companies generating, collecting, and storing vast amounts of information, ranging from highly confidential customer data to less sensitive analytics data. Thus increasing the need for proper security measures to protect all kinds of data.  

How does Cloud Security Work?  

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all to cloud security. Therefore, every organization can create a cloud security plan tailored to their business requirements. If you are migrating to cloud computing and looking for ways to protect your data from breaches, here are some tools and strategies you can use to strengthen your cloud security.  

1. Encryption  

Encryption is a vital method for protecting data from unauthorized access. In the context of cloud computing, where data is stored and transmitted over networks, encryption plays a crucial role in safeguarding sensitive information. 

When data is encrypted, it is transformed into a format that is unreadable without the correct decryption key. So, even if a hacker gains access to the data, they will be unable to understand or use it. 

Encrypting data both at rest (when stored) and in transit (when transmitted) is essential for comprehensive security. This ensures that data remains protected regardless of its state, reducing the risk of data leakage and exposure. 

Moreover, failing to encrypt data can result in non-compliance with data protection regulations and standards, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which mandates the use of encryption to protect personal and sensitive data. 

2. Firewall  

A firewall acts as a barrier between your internal network and the internet, monitoring and controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules. It helps protect your data and applications from unauthorized access and cyber threats. 

Cloud firewalls, specifically, are designed for cloud-based infrastructure and services. They operate in the cloud environment, creating a virtual shield around your cloud resources. This virtual barrier filters out potentially harmful traffic, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), malicious bot activities, and attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in your system. 

By implementing a cloud firewall, you add a layer of security to your cloud infrastructure, reducing the risk of cyberattacks and ensuring the safety of your data and applications. 

3. Identify and Access Management (IAM) 

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a collection of IT solutions that use unique user profiles to provide access to various IT resources. IAM allows you to monitor each user’s online activities on your cloud. That is, you can track users and the information they can access. This prevents unauthorized access and frequent data leaks. IAM is crucial in cloud computing because it allows you to access users’ identities and limit user access, which determines whether they can access data, not their device or location. 

Additionally, IAM helps lower the risk of unauthorized users accessing internal assets and authorized users abusing their privileges. The right IAM solution can help prevent various types of attacks, account takeovers, and insider threats.  

Top Security Risks of Cloud Security  

When you migrate to the cloud, you are introduced to a new set of risks. That doesn’t mean cloud computing is not secure. It simply means you need to be aware of the cloud computing risks to mitigate them. So, let’s take a look at the top security risks of cloud computing. 

1. Loss of Visibility and Control  

Different members of your company can utilize cloud services across different devices at the same time. And without a proper process or tool, you may lose track of who is using your cloud services and what data they are interacting with. Lack of visibility and control increases the risk of data breaches and loss, as you cannot protect what you cannot see.  

2. Lack of Cloud Security Strategy 

When migrating to cloud services, most organizations become operational before implementing adequate security systems and strategies to safeguard their infrastructure. This increases the chances of data breaches. Therefore, when migrating to a cloud environment, always adopt a security-first approach and establish a cloud-ready infrastructure before going live with your systems and data. 

3. Insider Threats  

Your employees, contractors, and business associates can pose significant security risks, even without malicious intentions. Insider threats often arise from inadequate training or negligence. Therefore, when transitioning to the cloud, make sure to provide your employees and other business stakeholders with adequate training on how to operate the cloud environment safely.  

4. Insecure Application User Interface  

You need an Application Programming Interface (API) to operate in a cloud infrastructure. An API is a set of rules that allow two or more computer programs to communicate with each other. APIs are commonly used to grant control to internal and external stakeholders in your cloud infrastructure. APIs can grant access to both internal staff and external consumers through web or mobile applications. 

However, APIs used on external stakeholders’ devices pose a potential cloud security risk. If these devices are insecure, they serve as gateways for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access, leading to data theft and service manipulation. 

5. Misconfiguration of Cloud Services 

Misconfigurations in cloud services refer to settings or configurations that are not properly set up or managed, leading to security vulnerabilities. These misconfigurations can occur due to various reasons, such as human error, lack of awareness, or oversight in configuring cloud services. 

One common misconfiguration is retaining default security settings for highly sensitive data. Cloud services often come with default settings that may not provide the level of security needed for sensitive information. Failing to customize these settings can lead to unauthorized access or exposure. 

Another issue is granting unauthorized access due to mismatched access management. This can happen when access permissions are not correctly configured, allowing users or applications to access data or resources that they should not have access to. 

Leaving confidential data openly accessible generally occurs when data is not properly secured or encrypted. 

What are Some Cloud Security Best Practices?  

Encrypting your data, using IAM products, and creating a thick-layer firewall alone cannot protect your data and information from security breaches. You need a proactive approach to cloud computing security. Here are some effective cloud security best practices to protect your data and information.  

1. Choose a Reliable Cloud Service Provider  

Selecting a reliable cloud service provider is the initial step in safeguarding data. The cloud service provider must provide lightning-fast website performance, instant scaling, easy-to-use cPanel for excellent website management, and an industry-leading storage system to protect your data from hackers.  

2. Take your Security Responsibilities Seriously  

When you transition your data to cloud services, it’s crucial to understand who is accountable for its security. Typically, the cloud provider is responsible for securing the infrastructure, while the customers are accountable for safeguarding the data stored on that infrastructure. Therefore, when migrating to cloud computing, it’s important to be aware of your responsibilities and take the necessary measures to protect your data.  

3. Use Strong Authentication 

Passwords serve as the initial defence against unauthorized access, but they can be stolen or compromised. Therefore, it’s important to implement robust authentication methods, like multifactor authentication, facial recognition, and fingerprint, as they greatly lower the risk of unauthorized data access. For instance, multifactor authentication demands that users provide multiple forms of authentication, such as a password and a code from a mobile app, to access the cloud environment, limiting unauthorized access to your cloud. 

4. Regular Security Assessments  

Conducting regular security assessments is essential for identifying vulnerabilities and evaluating the effectiveness of security measures. These assessments can be carried out internally or by third-party security experts. 

5. Train Your Employees  

It’s crucial to train your employees about the security risks associated with storing data in cloud services and educate them on best practices for data security. This includes providing regular security awareness training and establishing policies for reporting suspicious activity. 

6. Adopting Zero Trust Strategy 

Zero Trust is a security framework that continuously authenticates, authorizes, and validates users, irrespective of the role they play in the cloud environment. This means anyone, from an employee to a third party, is authenticated and authorized from time to time to protect the data and information. This framework uniquely addresses the modern challenges of today’s business, such as remote workers, hybrid cloud environments, and ransomware threats.  

READ: 9 Cloud Security Best Practices and How to Implement Them 

What is Cloud Security Alliance (CSA)? 

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a nonprofit organization focused on researching and promoting best practices for securing your cloud environment. It collaborates with industry experts, organizations, and other industry-related stakeholders to provide research, education, certification, events, and products dedicated to cloud security. 

Moreover, the organization delivers security education and guidance to companies at various stages of cloud adoption. CSA membership is open to individuals and entities with expertise in cloud computing security who are committed to enhancing cloud security practices. 

Here are the benefits of CSA: 

  • Access to a network of experts and fellow members 
  • Discounts on training programs 
  • Exclusive access to events and webinars  

Top Cloud Security Certification 

Besides CSA, there are different ways to gain expertise in cloud security. Cloud security certifications are one of them. Here we have listed the top cloud security certificates.  

1. Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) 

If you are keen on enhancing your skills in cloud security, this certificate course is for you. This certification improves your understanding of designing, managing, and securing cloud data, applications, and infrastructure. However, you need to fulfill specific experience prerequisites to enroll in this certification. These requirements entail having five years of full-time experience in IT, with at least three years dedicated to cybersecurity. You can substitute this experience requirement if you hold a certification equally esteemed as the CISSP. 

2. Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) 

As an entry-level certification, CCSK lays the foundation for cloud security knowledge, making it a stepping stone for professionals beginning their journey in cloud security. With this cloud security certification, you’ll learn how to set up a strong security foundation. Moreover, getting a CCSK certification equips you with the fundamental skills and knowledge required to safeguard data in the cloud. Furthermore, achieving CCSK certification fulfills certain experience prerequisites necessary for pursuing the more advanced CCSP certification. 

3. AWS Certified Security  

Tailored for AWS environments, this certification dives into the specifics of data classifications, encryption methods, and secure Internet protocols, providing a targeted learning experience for AWS security. Obtaining the AWS Certified Security certification teaches you data classifications, encryption techniques, and secure Internet protocols that need to be followed in an AWS environment. Additionally, the certification covers security basics, AWS architecture, and security engineering, assuring that you can securely manage applications in the AWS cloud.  

Planning to enroll in this certificate course? You need to fulfill specific prerequisites, including at least two years of practical experience in the AWS environment. 

4. Azure Security Engineer Associate  

This certification is designed for professionals seeking to specialize in Azure cloud security. This certification offers insights into protecting data, applications, and networks within Azure environments. Additionally, getting the Azure Security Engineer Associate certification demonstrates your proficiency as a Security Engineer on the Azure Cloud Platform. Moreover, this certification teaches you how to safeguard data, applications, and networks within a cloud setting, along with implementing security measures and threat defence. 

5. Professional Cloud Security Engineer 

Aimed at Google Cloud Platform users, this certification enhances the ability to design, develop, and manage secure infrastructure, making it essential for those working with Google Cloud. Moreover, the certification involves mastering the configuration of access, network security, and data protection within the Google Cloud Platform.  

Similar to the Azure and AWS certifications, this certification is perfect for those who want to enhance their cloud security skills on the Google Cloud Platform. 

6. Alibaba ACA Cloud Security Certification 

This foundational certification is perfect for individuals new to cloud security or starting with Alibaba Cloud, providing essential knowledge for Alibaba cloud deployments. Through this cloud security certification, you’ll build foundational skills in Linux and networking operations. You’ll also delve into hosting, application, network, and data security solutions. The training encompasses various security products offered by Alibaba, such as Server Guard, WAF, Anti-DDoS Basic, and Pro. 

7. Professional Cloud Security Manager Certification (PCS) 

This certification is aimed at professionals specializing in governance and risk. It provides a holistic view of cloud security management by covering key areas such as cloud service management, governance, and strategic planning. This certification is ideal for those looking to gain a comprehensive understanding of how to manage and secure cloud services effectively. 

Summing Up  

The rapid adoption of cloud services has shed light on the importance and need for cloud security best practices. And businesses need a better understanding of the risks they face with cloud security. However, many companies still struggle to find the right approaches to mitigate cloud security risks. We hope our cloud security guide helps you mitigate common cloud security risks.  

To guarantee the safety of its cloud services, BigRock adopts multiple security measures. This encompasses the use of robust encryption protocols to secure data during storage and transfer. BigRock enforces strict access controls to block unauthorized entry to its cloud infrastructure. 

Furthermore, BigRock’s security experts proactively oversee cloud services to detect potential security threats and weaknesses. They quickly respond to any identified dangers to preserve the security and dependability of their offerings.  

Click here to know more about BigRock’s cloud hosting service.  

If you have any doubts, queries, or feedback for this article, please share them in the comments section below.  

WRITTEN BY:

Web hosting specialist with a knack for creativity and a passion for baking, serving up tech solutions with a side of sweetness.

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