Best Practices for Ensuring Cloud Security in 2022

Best Practices for Ensuring Cloud Security
Best Practices for Ensuring Cloud Security

According to the 11th annual Allianz Risk Barometer, a corporate risk survey, cyber incidents are the top global business risk for 2022. “Covid-19 continues to cast its shadow, but it is a digital pandemic – cyber risk – returning to the top of the rankings … Ransomware and other disruptive forms of cyber-attacks continue to bedevil businesses, while potential risks from digitalization and the shift to remote working are driving growing concern,” the study notes.

The more prominent use of cloud services is particularly notable in view of the rise of cyber threats. A survey by IDG (now called Foundry) reveals that IT environments of around 92 percent of organizations are already at least partially based on the cloud. For organizations to adequately address the threats, it is important to keep abreast of the latest cybersecurity best practices.

Embracing the shared responsibility model

The rise of cloud providers that claim to offer high-level security has somehow created the misconception that organizations may entrust their security needs entirely to the provider. Various features like storage and traffic encryption indeed help in securing cloud assets, but they are not enough to ensure adequate cloud security.

it is advisable to adopt the shared responsibility model. As Gartner projected a few years ago, “through 2025, 99% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.” Organizations cannot pass the cybersecurity responsibility completely to the cloud service provider, and no provider cannot fully guarantee the security of their clients’ cloud assets.

The shared responsibility model is one of the key concepts in building a capable cloud security architecture. Depending on the resources or services utilized, the cloud customer also has the burden to meticulously oversee specific aspects of its security. This entails the necessity to clarify the responsibilities of both the cloud provider and the customer. Each party should have a clear understanding of what to expect from each other.

Implementing zero trust security

In 2022, zero-trust security becomes even more relevant. As the cloud infrastructure becomes more complex and extensive with more diverse users, relying on perimeter controls and conventional security measures becomes less and less effective. Zero trust provides an approach that makes it significantly more difficult for threats to penetrate, since all kinds of traffic are treated as potentially harmful or malicious.

Data from Statista show that the global zero trust security market is already worth $22.99 billion in 2022, and it is expected to increase to $60 billion in the next four years, nearly thrice its current value. Organizations around the world are seeing the benefits of switching to the zero trust model to boost their security posture to match the rapid evolution of cyberattacks.

The United States Federal Government itself is already moving towards zero-trust security. At the start of 2022, the Office of Management and Budget published a memorandum mandating the implementation of a federal zero trust architecture that should be completely attained by the end of 2024.

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Enhanced identity and access management

Another aspect of cloud security that is expected to skyrocket in 2022 and beyond is cloud identity and access management (IAM). This is about the management of access privileges for individuals and devices in a network. It entails the identification, analysis, and configuration of different scenarios that require the granting and denial of access and privileges.

Based on data from Global Industry Analysts, cloud IAM is worth $5.3 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow into a $13.6 billion industry by 2026. This means a compounded annual growth rate of 26.7 percent, which is relatively high. The biggest IAM segments that are forecast to see high growth are User Provisioning and Single Sign-On, which are expected to rise by 27.3 percent and 28.6 percent CAGR respectively.

Many organizations are embracing cloud IAM because of the convenience it provides, as well as the benefits of centralized security and compliance management. The prevalence of work-from-home arrangements and the use of BYOD devices in different parts of the world complicates cybersecurity management in terms of access and privilege provisioning. IAM is a highly viable, efficient, and scalable solution that businesses cannot downplay.

Conventional user identity and access management in organizations that rely on on-premise systems are usually sufficient for organizations operating in a single location. However, a better system that can agilely adjust to organizational changes is preferable as organizations go online, expand their operations to multiple new locations, and incorporate a greater diversity of users and endpoints in their systems.

Emphasis on endpoint protection

Endpoint security also sees greater relevance in 2022 and the years ahead, as cloud access expands beyond personal computers or workstations. Nowadays, the employees of many organizations access their corporate cloud services not only through work computers but also through their smartphones, tablets, IoT devices, and web interfaces.

Protecting connections through diverse devices and methods requires an enhanced system or protection. There is a need for a better way to secure end-user devices and the company’s system itself, particularly the use of client-side security controls and the implementation of strict security measures for all endpoints (for example: the regular updating of all apps). Every new device or method of access added means an additional cyber-attack surface, so protecting endpoints is a matter of necessity.

If organizations are updating their hardware or purchasing new ones, it is advisable to choose those that come with reliable internet security measures including firewalls, access verification, and native mobile device security. It also helps to utilize automation as part of the systematic protection of endpoints.

Employee education

Moreover, it is important not to forget the human factor. No matter how good a cloud security system is, the people using or managing it have the ultimate say in its efficacy. People, after all, are still the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. People can be tricked into doing certain actions that weaken cyber defenses or open up vulnerabilities that can be exploited by concerted attacks.

Training or orientation sessions on cloud cybersecurity fundamentals are important. Everyone should have a sense of what a cyberattack looks like and how it can be prevented. Also, all employees and officers in an organization should be aware of preventive measures like the use of strong passwords.

Cybersecurity experts see phishing and other social engineering attacks as major concerns in 2022. The best way to counter this is education or employee upskilling in relation to cloud security. A high level of cybersecurity awareness makes everyone an effective tool in detecting, preventing, and mitigating attacks.

In conclusion

The past couple of years have been challenging when it comes to cybersecurity. Organizations have undergone major changes that created new challenges and risks in operating digital and online resources securely. There are no signs that the present year is going to be a plateauing of the threats, let alone a diminution.

Cloud security is not a simple task. Organizations need to be mindful of the latest threat trends and invest in better technologies, systems, and employee skills to protect their cloud infrastructure and all the related assets, resources, and services.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.