To protect data and other digital assets in hybrid cloud environments, businesses need to adopt a modernised, flexible and scalable cybersecurity approach. While small and mid-sized companies may not have the same IT challenges – and benefits – of larger organisations, their security needs, especially in an increasingly hybrid cloud world, are equally essential, writes Steve Flynn, sales and marketing director at ESET Southern Africa.
Globally, organisations have taken to hybrid cloud in a big way for many well-documented reasons: flexibility, cost efficiency, the ability to balance internal control with workload migration, widespread scalability and faster time to value for new applications and services. In South Africa, businesses are shifting their IT environments’ structure to take advantage of the cloud, with many adopting a cloud-first architecture or, increasingly, a hybrid cloud model.
However, hybrid cloud is not immune to something that is often organisations’ top fear and operational snag: security risks. Organisations certainly understand the need to secure their data, devices and applications in the cloud; even though overall IT spending growth in 2020 was dampened by the pandemic, research indicates that spending on cloud security jumped by 33%.
Irrespective of size, businesses need to stay on top of the rapidly evolving cyber risk landscape, and seek out new, modernised and highly flexible solutions to help mitigate those risks in a hybrid cloud environment.
Security and protection challenges in hybrid cloud architectures
Organisations are experiencing an increase in number, diversity and sophistication of cyber threats. Advanced threat protection and overall cybersecurity management are often at the front and centre of an organisation’s approach to modernised cybersecurity, especially in hybrid cloud environments. Using a centralised approach to cybersecurity through advanced software solutions, often as a cloud service, to stay secure from these multiple threats is an ideal method for protecting end users and valuable business data.
Implementing a comprehensive security solution is far more efficient to deploy, simpler to manage and, in many cases, more cost-effective than purchasing individual products for different threats.
Compared to legacy approaches, cloud-based cybersecurity management is:
* A more appropriate fit for the increasingly challenging threat landscape, driven by overlapping attacks of different natures, often with no advanced warning.
* A better strategy to gain increased visibility into network, application, data and user behaviour over physical and virtual networks.
* A far simpler and more automated approach to coordinate a unified response to security threats.
Long gone are the days when organisations could focus on mainstream, relatively simple security threats like viruses and keystroke logging. Now, the growing diversity of threats, combined with their overlapping attacks and long “dwell times” (the length of time an attack remains undetected inside an organisation’s cyber defences) has raised the stakes.
As organisations adopt hybrid cloud frameworks such as cloud-native application development/deployment, container-based architectures, microservices and serverless computing, they need a security approach designed for a cloud-first or even cloud-only environment.
What to look for in a cloud-based security platform
Selecting the right toolset for security in hybrid cloud environments carries far-reaching implications. Solutions that do not fully and properly address threats can result in compliance violations, data governance problems, legal exposure, and the loss of customer confidence. At the same time, solutions that are difficult and expensive to deploy cost money, degrade employee productivity and take security professionals away from other tasks.
As businesses create their checklist, it is important to keep in mind some core functionalities for hybrid cloud security. These functionalities include:
* Protecting traditionally unprotected or poorly protected endpoints, networks and applications now being used more frequently in remote work, such as home networks or personally subscribed cloud services.
* Enabling cloud sandboxing as isolated test environments to study, analyse and plan action against suspicious programs and/or files.
* Delivering multilayered protection of the expanding number of applications, data and devices at the endpoint, server, network and cloud levels.
* Supporting an integrated platform design, rather than disparate security point products, to ease management and support automated prevention, detection, response and remediation.
* Improving time to value by speeding deployment, facilitating scalability, and reducing costs.
* Embracing a multi-purpose console to do more than just threat monitoring.
* Avoiding “one-size-fits-all” solutions through customised solutions, configurations, and policies.
* Securing both data at rest and data in motion, due to the need to support both cloud and on-premises protection, as well as securing data as part of workload migrations.