Businesses around the world are discovering the advantages of migrating systems and processes into the cloud. They are taking advantage of the accessibility, adaptability and cost-effectiveness that cloud solutions have to offer. But they are also discovering the advantages of adopting a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud approach. The idea of being able to use multiple cloud providers, rather than being tied in to a single partner, and the benefits that it can offer when it comes to flexibility and experience are hard to ignore. But it can also be a dangerous line to tread if you’re not taking hybrid cloud security into consideration.
But what exactly is hybrid cloud security? And why is it important for your business?
What Is A Hybrid Cloud Environment, And What Is Hybrid Cloud Security?
Adopting a hybrid cloud environment means taking advantage of a combination of different infrastructure. It can incorporate on-premises systems, public cloud, and public cloud services from any number of providers. This allows businesses to enjoy the benefits of both worlds without having to choose between on-premises vs cloud, or public vs private cloud. You can take advantage of the control and customisation of on-premises infrastructure, along with the scalability and flexibility of public cloud. Or, alternatively, you could take advantage of the affordability of public cloud storage for the majority of your data, while paying a premium for the control and boosted security that private cloud servers provide for your sensitive or confidential information.
There are plenty of advantages to taking a hybrid cloud approach, flexibility, scalability, affordability and not being locked into contracts with a single provider topping the list. But managing hybrid cloud environments comes with its own set of challenges, security being one of the biggest.
When you’re taking a hybrid cloud approach to your data, you are adding complexity to the way that your information is stored and managed. You may be using on-premises storage for archival data, public cloud servers for system and app data, and private cloud services for personal data, for example. But maintaining the security of three different platforms is no easy feat, especially when each of them have to be managed, updated, upgraded and regularly reviewed. This is where hybrid cloud security comes in.
Hybrid cloud security refers to a set of security measures and protocols that are implemented to protect data and apps in a multi-cloud environment. It’s a crucial consideration if you’re planning to using multiple cloud services from different providers, since it ensures that sensitive information and critical systems are always protected from cyber threats.
What Are The Hybrid Cloud Security Challenges That Businesses Face?
While hybrid cloud environments offer numerous benefits, they also pose several security challenges that businesses must address. These include compliance and governance, data leakage, and visibility and control.
• Compliance & Governance
There are acts and regulations, like the POPI Act in South Africa and the EU’s GDPR, that strictly govern the way that personal data should be handled, stored and protected. In a hybrid cloud environment, this means ensuring that all data across all of your different platforms is compliant with the relevant laws and regulations. And if you’re a company that does business with both South African and European citizens, this can become a complicated equation, since even if you aren’t physically based in those areas, your data storage still needs to comply with the relevant laws, and you still want to be handling all sensitive information securely and ethically.
• Data Leakage
Data loss and data integrity are major concerns for businesses using hybrid cloud computing. With data spread across multiple platforms, there is an increased risk of sensitive or personally identifiable information being accessed or exposed by unauthorised users. This can lead to financial loss, reputational damage, and legal consequences. To prevent data leakage, businesses must have a comprehensive security plan in place that includes strong identity and access management (IAM) protocols.
• Visibility & Control
Another challenge with cloud security when you’re taking a hybrid approach is maintaining visibility and control over your data and systems. With multiple platforms involved, it can be difficult to keep track of where your data is stored and who has access to it. This lack of visibility and control can leave businesses vulnerable to data breaches and cyberattacks. To address this challenge, businesses need to implement robust monitoring systems that provide real-time visibility into their multi-cloud environment.
8 Steps To Developing Your Hybrid Cloud Strategy
Now that we understand the challenges of secure hybrid cloud computing, let’s discuss how businesses can develop a comprehensive strategy to address them. Here are 8 steps that businesses can take to ensure the security of their hybrid cloud environment:
1. Standardise Processes
The first step in developing a secure hybrid cloud strategy is to standardise processes across all platforms. This includes implementing consistent security measures no matter which platform is being used, including monitoring, access controls, and ensuring that all systems are regularly updated.
2. Consistently Encrypt Data
Encryption is a crucial aspect of securing your cloud environments. By encrypting data at rest and in transit, businesses can protect their sensitive information from unauthorised access. While encryption will be most important when it comes to sensitive information, it should also be a standardised practice across your different data types and platforms. That way, you can ensure that no matter where your data is being stored, it has an extra level of protection against cyberattackers.
3. Configure Secure Tools & Processes For The Cloud
When moving to a hybrid cloud environment, it’s essential to find the right security tools and processes to protect your cloud services. These can include setting up proper IAM protocols, setting up VPNs for your office and for your humans to connect to when they’re working from their home offices, establishing secure connections between on-premise and cloud systems, and implementing Multi-Factor Authentication to protect your humans’ login credentials and ensure that only authorised users have access to sensitive information.
4. Establish A Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Policy
Another critical aspect of hybrid cloud security is having a solid business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place. Cyberattacks are happening every single day, and natural disasters also have the potential to bring your operations to a halt if they’re not handled effectively. You want to make sure that you have a plan in place to quickly and effectively recover your data and resume operations when the worst case scenario becomes a reality. Your policies should include regular cloud backups of all critical data, testing of recovery procedures, assignment of roles in case of an emergency, training your teams in responding to disasters, and protocols for communication with stakeholders during an emergency.
5. Manage Access Across Hybrid Environments
Not everyone within your business is going to need access to all information at all times. You want to make sure that your humans have access to the tools and resources that they need to do their jobs, but you also want to prioritise the security of the data in your possession, and one way of doing that is to strictly control who has access to each of your hybrid environments.
Implementing robust IAM procedures becomes a necessity, ensuring that only authorised personnel can access sensitive data in particular. You may even want to adopt a ‘least privilege policy’, where access rights for each of your users are limited to the bare minimum permissions they would need to perform their work. A centralised IAM solution can also provide the visibility and control that you need in such diverse environments. This setup not only bolsters the security of your hybrid cloud but also simplifies the process of managing access across different platforms.
6. Leverage CWPP and CSPM
Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP) and Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) are specifically designed to secure, monitor and manage workloads in the cloud. These platforms offer a combination of visibility, compliance, and threat detection and response capabilities to keep your data safe in a multi-cloud environment. Leveraging both CWPP and CSPM can help you identify any vulnerabilities or misconfigurations in your cloud services and provide real-time alerts for potential security breaches.
7. Isolate The Most Critical Infrastructure
Not all data is created equal, and if you’re going to be spreading your data across multiple platforms and providers, it’s essential to identify and isolate the most critical infrastructure. This includes sensitive customer data, financial information, any other confidential business data, and any systems (like your Cloud VoIP or PBX, for example) that need to be brought back online as quickly as possible if you experience an attack or failure.
8. Find The Right Partner
Many businesses balk at the idea of hybrid cloud because they envision themselves having to undertake the task all on their own. But this is where having a reliable technology partner and cloud provider by your side can make all the difference. When you work with a company like Solid Systems, not only do you get expert advice, exceptionally human IT support, and strategic technology planning a phone call or email away, but we also help you with vendor management. This means that we can act as the single point of contact between your different cloud providers, helping you to effectively manage your hybrid cloud environment, while making the right moves to prioritise hybrid cloud security. We take the technical headache out of your hands, reducing your risk and allowing you to focus your efforts on where they matter most – your core business – while trusting that your data and infrastructure are working as they should, are protected against attack, and are in capable, experienced hands.
So if you’re considering implementing hybrid cloud security for your business, let Solid Systems be your partner in ensuring that it’s done efficiently, effectively and securely. Schedule your free IT consult with our Sales team today, and let’s see you making the most of your cloud services and keeping your company secure.