A majority of businesses have started opting for more than one cloud-based services of late. While that does offer companies more benefits and flexibility, security remains a huge cause of concern. In this blog, we will decode what makes multi-cloud security an enormous challenge for businesses.
An increasing number of businesses are strategically selecting to leverage the services of multiple cloud service providers, rather than sticking to just one. The reasons include increased up-time, freedom to choose from the options that best suit their particular needs, absence of adequate tools offered by a single cloud vendor, and not wanting to be confined to one vendor’s offerings, to name a few.
Switching to a multi-cloud environment does bring lower downtime and latency. However, as per BPI (Business Performance Innovation) Network study, 63% out of the 127 surveyed companies found multi-cloud security to be one of their topmost challenges.
Let’s understand why.
How Does Multi-Cloud Scenario Complicate Security?
Moving to multi-cloud services is more often than not an unplanned activity, especially for smaller businesses. It can simply begin when your employees opt for different cloud platforms depending upon their preferences, workload, and requirements.
The simplest example of this would be a scenario where one employee may choose Dropbox, one would select Google Drive while the other may choose a third service altogether. As a result, suddenly your entity is utilizing three different cloud services platforms simultaneously with both known and unknown risks. That is enough to complicate your existing security plan.
Increased Risks, Little Control
While earlier your business was utilizing just one cloud platform, now there are multiple. Thus, now you’ve to fight against multiple threats of varied nature associated with each of these platforms. Also, now you’ve visibly less control over the information and data being passed in and out of the company through such platforms.
What that means is, even a seemingly minor loophole in any of your cloud activities can have a huge impact on the entire company. At the same time, the distributed nature of data and information further complicates things since you don’t have control over which information is being stored where, which information is being shared, which data is being managed and/or used offsite in the cloud.
Misconfigurations and Less Visibility
Poor configuration of different cloud services is one of the most common security issues that businesses face. Although each cloud platform usually provides documentation on the security it offers, along with the risks, it is not thoroughly read and implemented by users. Apart from that, users’ desires for smoother transitioning of data and information from one application to another leads them to impair authorization processes, putting them at greater risks.
The more different cloud platforms you use, the lesser visibility of data you would enjoy, which in turn, would multiply the risks and their consequences. Shared credentials across different platforms, as well as uploading of private, sensitive details, add another layer of complexity to the security.
Unauthorized Access Issues
Going for multi-cloud services translates to more chances of unauthorized access by unwanted parties over your business’s sensitive information. That happens because employees tend to create workarounds or hacks to get diverse platforms working together. Such workarounds are often insecure.
In addition to that, there are instances where businesses provide third-party vendors with unnecessary access to information in order to avoid navigating complex verification procedures.
All these aspects bound together form a scenario where security becomes a #1 challenge.
Multi-Cloud is Going to Stay
As the BPI study highlights, the usage of multi-cloud architecture is only going to rise in future. In fact, 52% of the surveyed firms had plans to integrate additional cloud service in the future. In such a situation, it is only wise for businesses to concentrate on discovering ways and tools that help them lay the foundation of solid security.
Following pointers may help you get started:
Making security an early consideration
The moment you, as a business, decide to switch from a single cloud to multi-cloud, it is vital to have a proper security plan in place. Just like how you would plan other business operations accordingly. The early you start asking questions about security, the related risks, and possible impact, you would be clearer on the security measures required.
Furthermore, including security as an early component of your multi-cloud strategy would help you avoid or better handle potential problems. It would also help in ensuring consistency in the policies’ enforcement across multiple clouds.
Mapping security for current and future scenario
Another important thing is to make sure that your current security measures are robust and relevant while flexible enough to adapt to the changing future demands. For that, you have to get answers to certain questions right: Why did you choose multiple clouds? Which workloads are running on each cloud? What controls are provided on each of them? How the requirements would evolve with actual usage and with time? How would the same use cases change in the future?
The more clarity you will have regarding these points and work out accordingly, the more strengthened your security stand will become.
Implementing a comprehensive security
Opting for the multi-cloud environment doesn’t discard the need to have strong on-premise security. As an organization, you need to have a comprehensive security plan in place for threat protection, data protection, identity management, and visibility so that the sensitive enterprise information is protected from unauthorized access.
To achieve comprehensive security, you need to select a solution that comes with easy deployment and integration with your current on-premise tools. That would enable consistent and continuous security throughout the entity and wherever the data travels. Besides, it should be scalable enough to seamlessly handle the inclusion of additional cloud apps.
Outlining a proactive and effective security strategy when using multiple cloud-based services is indeed difficult. However, it’s something that you can’t avoid if you want to safeguard your sensitive business information and confidently enjoy the benefits offered by a multi-cloud environment.
Sourodip Biswas works with an expert team of web and mobile app developers at Space-O Canada, a leading software and mobile app development company. He believes that learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere, hence is always keen to learn new things. His work has been published on various distinguished blogs across the web.