How to Overcome Data Security Challenges in a Hybrid Multi-Cloud Environment, IT News, ET CIO

By Anirudh Kala

Organizations are rapidly evolving to adopt a cloud-centric strategy. This pandemic-powered change has pushed companies to embrace the hybrid and multi-cloud approach. The Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud report states that 92% of companies already have a multi-cloud strategy and 80% are using a hybrid cloud strategy. With the hybrid multi-cloud approach, your business can take advantage of existing on-premises corporate IT systems and combine them with the scalability and flexibility offered by public and private cloud.

But security and compliance in this landscape is fragmented and results in increased vulnerability and reduced visibility due to complex interconnected networks. Your business must evolve and upgrade its current data security solutions to meet the challenges of this environment. Here are some of the procedures you can take to address the data security challenges of the hybrid cloud environment.

1. Centralized identity and access controls

Taking an identity-centric approach will be key to protecting users and business applications on-premises and in the cloud. A centralized Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution helps reduce the complexity of authenticating between databases or individual applications. To mitigate privilege escalation attacks, you should continuously monitor user activities, roles, and permissions, and create a process to remove unused and excessive privileges.

Tight control over data access rights with a single identity approach and unified IAM policies in hybrid and multi-cloud environments will ensure that only authorized users have access and reduce security risks. Additionally, a better understanding of your data needs will allow you to implement contextual data access controls based on the type of data and where it is stored. Then you can set the appropriate level of protection based on your security requirements and make the access and authorization process secure and smooth for all levels of users.

2. Single-tier management

In a hybrid multi-cloud environment, continuous security monitoring is essential to quickly detect and respond to security threats. With data distributed across physical and virtual networks, security professionals need a centralized platform to enable this continuous monitoring and assessment of security risks. Businesses need a security solution that integrates with all systems in the cloud and offers a single view as well as centralized management capabilities. This single-pane management approach will then follow the flow of data across the entire network, improving visibility and helping you understand the identities that access critical workloads. It will also enable a unified threat intelligence system for all data on your network and in the outside world.

3. Adoption of Zero Trust Principles

A zero trust approach involves the assumption of no trust even for systems within the organizational network. A zero trust architecture involves mapping transaction flows in your network, creating boundaries between users and applications, enforcing contextual access controls based on least privilege principles, and monitoring and maintaining actively all data traffic. With this architectural approach, you will also be able to maximize your compliance efforts while improving monitoring and reporting. This approach allows for a cohesive and comprehensive security structure that will help you stay ahead of potential attacks and evolving technologies.

4. Segmentation and secure connectivity

Since internal resources and data reside on a network open to the public and to third-party applications, it is crucial to segment systems and traffic through the cloud. This will minimize the impact on critical applications in the event of a security breach. Additionally, robust Virtual Private Network (VPN) functionality is required to provide secure temporary access to internal resources while protecting the rest of the network. The hybrid environment often involves moving data between locations, loading large datasets, and connecting to third-party cloud analytics solutions, all of which require discrete and secure connections to external networks. A VPN solution that provides the right protection based on network connection requirements will greatly minimize data security risks.

5. Adoption of DevSecOps practices

DevSecOps enables your security team to integrate automated controls into the software development process, running a series of security tests before code is deployed to the production environment. With this automation, you can safely manage the deployment and expansion of resources and eliminate the remaining copies of data and virtual machines that can become a handicap. These automated security workflows will also reduce the likelihood of human error and improve overall business agility.

Ensuring data and workload security is essential for successful adoption of hybrid multicloud environments. Cloud security solutions must meet the unique requirements of combining internal resources with external connections and data sources in the hybrid environment.

The author is Co-Founder, Director and Chief Data Scientist at Celebal Technologies

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