Cloud Security Assessment: How to Implement This Important Layer of Safety

A survey conducted among cybersecurity professionals has shown that only around 32% of them perform frequent Cloud Security Assessments (CSA).

This comes as a surprise, considering that almost all of them had expressed deep concern over how secure the data they store in the cloud is.

If you want to protect your data from data breaches and damage, we've compiled everything you need to know about CSA in one place. So, let's get right into it!

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What is a Cloud Security Assessment?

Around 48% of companies store their most important data in the cloud. That makes cloud applications one of the most popular choices for data storage.

This comes as no surprise, as cloud computing provides easy access to valuable company resources, all while saving space on the company's local devices.

However, the growth of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of vulnerabilities and security threats to cloud software. Cyberattacks have become widespread in attempts to access the sensitive information of companies.

That's where CSA plays an important role.

It is essentially an in-depth, continuous analysis of a company's cloud deployment, intended to identify infrastructure weaknesses and protect your cloud assets from security threats.

Why Do You Need A Cloud Security Assessment?

Every business should be concerned about the confidentiality and integrity of their data. After all, a data breach can lead to a leak of confidential user information, which can be detrimental to a company's reputation and finances.

The fact that companies that have experienced a data breach continue to underperform the market by over 15% in the next three years says a lot about why cybersecurity is important.

Cloud Security Assessment is fundamental in combating these breaches. For one, it's focused on identifying the entry points of your cloud with the most vulnerable infrastructure.

Whether it is your IaaS, PaaS or SaaS cloud services that are most exposed to cyberattacks, this assessment will allow you to implement more advanced protection against security breaches.

Moreover, gaps and errors made by network engineers during cloud adoption are a serious threat to your environment.

Why? Because these errors could lead to leaky cloud storage buckets, causing massive exposure of your key data to the public.

CSA helps you quickly find the root of these misconfigurations, so you can prevent inbound or outbound unauthorized third-party access and protect yourself from malware.

You may also need CSA for an assessment of your privileges. Poor permissions management and excessive privileges can lead to costly errors, so you'll want to know if you've got them.

Last but not least, Cloud Security Assessment can provide you with tools to never miss critical security information logs. It can also draw your attention to the need for multi-factor identification in your organization.

To sum it all up, if you want to protect your company from malicious attacks and recover from them more rapidly if they occur – Cloud Security Assessment is your best friend.

What Are The Benefits Of Running A Cloud Security Assessment?

The benefits of a Cloud Security Assessment are numerous.

After all, you're performing the overall evaluation of a cloud infrastructure, which is bound to uncover every corner of your environment vulnerable to possible attacks.

In any case, let's take a look at a few most important benefits of CSA:

Recommendation Generation

By knowing the blind spots in your technology, you'll be able to formulate recommendations for clients regarding network configurations.

Implementation of these recommendations is the most beneficial in preventing future breaches.

Prevention of Issue Escalation

In case any issues do arise, you can still benefit from a CSA.

For one, you can make sure that these issues do not escalate into bigger problems. Aside from that, you can ensure faster recovery from any compromises.

Minimization of Excessive Privileges

We've already briefly tackled the importance of privilege management.

Having a cloud cybersecurity strategy in place is of uttermost importance in preventing, prioritizing and remedying malicious privilege abuses.

However, the creation and development of this strategy are rather complex, often long, and commonly flawed. If you want to reduce the time you spend on privilege management and minimize excessive privileges, CSA is the way to go!

Automation of Security Monitoring

Think of CSA as a way to conduct a cloud security audit, minimizing your need for any external audits.

By automating your security monitoring against best practices and industry standards, you'll be able to detect cyber threats faster and without human intervention.

Regulatory Compliance

Every company should have a risk management policy in place for each of its projects.

This is the only way to avoid unnecessary risks, assess them in case they arise, as well as respond to them in a timely and appropriate manner.

A cloud security assessment can help you improve your risk management policy to ensure that it is GDPR and HIPAA compliant.

Gaining a Competitive Advantage

Finally, CSA can also give you a competitive advantage in the market.

Long-term cybersecurity is an effective way of driving customer loyalty, as customers aren't keen on putting their trust in companies with a reputation for leaking personal data.

And don't forget – the earlier in your development cycle you perform the Cloud Security Assessment, the more you'll minimize the risks of future security breaches!

How is a Cloud Security Assessment Performed?

The Cloud Security Assessment usually consists of several phases. We'll try to roughly explain what those phases entail.

Reviews

During the initial phase, the CSA team has one goal: to understand the cloud's architecture, purpose, and intended changes to it.

For one, this can be achieved by reviewing service-level agreements between service providers and clients.

Besides that, the performance of the CSA entails reviewing your system's security certificates to identify the level of security your website provides to users.

Testing

After the review of relevant documentation, the CSA teams use automation tools or perform manual testing of the cloud environment. The purpose of testing is to identify errors and gaps in network configuration, as well as the cloud host vulnerabilities that are the result of these misconfigurations.

This kind of scanning targets: key management, user accounts, firewall policies, roles and segmentation.

The data collected during vulnerability scans is then analyzed, and the most serious threats are prioritized during the application of patching solutions.

Recommendations

Based on the results of the Cloud Security Assessment, the CSA teams then create recommendations on customized configuration changes to improve the defense mechanism of the cloud infrastructure.

As a result, minor issues aren't given an opportunity and space to escalate, and companies are provided with a chance for faster recovery from system breaches.

Discussions

In the end, any incidents identified during the evaluation and recommendation-building phases need to be reported.

The CSA team must:

  • Present their clients with a proposal of responses to identified issues
  • Be available to answer any of their questions regarding the implementation of changes
  • You'll want to aim to make your CSA implementation as easy and hassle-free as possible. That means avoiding having to install special client software, set up VPN connections or maintain any additional databases

What Are The Most Common Targets Of Cloud Security Risk Assessment?

Although we've peppered some of these cloud security issues throughout the article, we've decided to emphasize four of the major risks separately as a part of our cloud security assessment checklist:

Misconfiguration Errors

Cloud resource misconfigurations are one of the most common cloud security issues.

These errors and gaps usually happen early in the development cycle due to unrestricted inbound and outbound ports, compromised servers, poorly configured HTML code, disabled monitoring and logging, excessive privileges, and so on.

Unnecessary Network Services

If you do not need a web, proxy, file share or FTP server, or if the operation of your device doesn't require remote access services, you're better off removing or at least disabling them.

Unnecessary network services offer more opportunities for hackers to take advantage of your vulnerabilities and exploit the weaknesses in your supporting application libraries, protocols, encryption in transit, etc.

Missing Critical Security Patches

Security patches are a result of hundreds of successful hacks into the cloud's security holes. The reason why these hacks succeed is that only one in five companies performs CSA in real-time.

This is a huge oversight, as security patches are intended to notify and protect potential victims from cyberattacks by covering up the cloud cybersecurity holes.

If you don't have the latest security patch installed on your cloud, you're risking theft of your user's identity, loss of confidential data, as well as malware damage to your software.

Server Application Code Errors

When an unauthorized party tries to access your cloud resources, an unauthorized server application code error will come up.

The same goes for authorized users trying to access cloud resources for which they aren't given privileges.

The Cloud Security Assessment collects and analyzes these crashes in your cloud environment so that they can be prevented in the future.

Conclusion

The role of the cloud security assessment is a predictive, preventative, and reactive one.

Conducting it is a beneficial way of minimizing the risks of cyber-attacks by identifying the weakest points in your cloud architecture and building on them.

Don't allow yourself to wait half a year or longer to perform these valuable checks. Instead, allow yourself peace of mind that your network is properly configured and secure from any internal or external threats.

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