Challenges of Multi-cloud security and compliance

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Orca Security shows best practices

Companies are increasingly shifting their operations not only to one, but in many cases to several public clouds. In the recent State of the Cloud Strategy Survey conducted by HashiCorp, 76 percent of respondents said that they are already pursuing multi-cloud strategies. A further 47 percent of these respondents agreed that security is a major obstacle to the cloud. Multi-cloud strategies make cloud security and compliance even more complicated, as controls and policies must be applied consistently across multiple cloud environments. However, by following a set of best practices, Orca Security believes that security teams can significantly minimize the complexity and effort of securing a multi-cloud environment, allowing organizations to fully implement their cloud strategy.

The IT security company Orca Security with a focus on cloud Security lists challenges and best practices:

What is a multi-cloud strategy?

A multi-cloud strategy is when companies use several providers of public IaaS cloud services – such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud – to optimize their IT services and infrastructure. Since each cloud provider offers different services and pricing models, companies can get the best service at the best price by using several cloud providers.

The concept is best explained by an analogy from the supermarket. For example, when customers buy their favorite organic products in a health food store, they accept that the prices are slightly higher. However, for most basic foodstuffs, they prefer to go to a regular store, since the prices there are much lower. In short, you optimize your grocery shopping based on the individual offer and prices of each store, which is similar to a multi-cloud strategy.

What is the difference between cloud platforms?

Like supermarkets, all cloud providers have similar offers, but each takes a slightly different approach. It is by no means a complete comparison, but the following brief summary shows how the platforms of the leading cloud providers offer added value in various areas:

  • AWS offers the widest range of services, including compute, storage, database, analytics, networking, and mobile resources, developer and management tools, IoT, security, and enterprise applications.
  • Azure has the advantage of combining productivity and enterprise software (such as Office 365 and Teams) with flexible cloud computing resources for developers on one platform.
  • Google Cloud stands out for its technological progress in the field of open source technologies, especially in containers, and played a decisive role in the development of Kubernetes, a container orchestration platform that has now become an industry standard.

What are the advantages of a multi-cloud strategy?

It is not surprising that most companies use several cloud platforms, since this strategy allows companies to

  • To optimize access to services: As described above, some cloud providers are more specialized in providing certain services than other providers, so it makes sense to choose the best cloud provider for each service you need.
  • Risk diversification and reliability: It is always a good idea to avoid “putting everything on one card”. For example, if a failure or other problem occurs with a cloud service provider, the other cloud platforms are unlikely to be affected.
  • Reduce costs and dependencies: By using multiple cloud providers, companies can remain flexible and switch providers to optimize their spending, instead of tying themselves to one provider and bearing high operating costs for moving services.

Security and compliance challenges of Multi-cloud environments

While using multiple cloud providers makes a lot of business sense, it can make security and compliance efforts extremely difficult. Thus, the security controls and guidelines should be uniform in all areas. Since most of the native cloud providers’ security tools only cover their own platform and not all third-party solutions support multiple cloud providers, security and compliance can quickly become an operational nightmare for multi-cloud environments.

If the security controls are not consolidated in one platform, this leads to the following problems:

  • Lack of central visibility: The use of different solutions for each cloud platform – and often even several solutions per platform, such as Cloud Security Posture Manager (CSPM) and Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP) – makes it almost impossible to get a central overview of risks. This means that those responsible do not have a clear overview of their entire cloud security situation and do not know which risks need to be addressed most urgently.
  • High operating costs: Duplicating security policies for different cloud security and compliance tools can quickly become a burden for the already understaffed cloud security team. Cloud workload protection platforms (CWPPs) also require the installation of an agent on each cloud resource to be monitored. The larger and more diversified the cloud resources, the more time-consuming it is to install and maintain agents for each resource.
  • Lack of consistency: When companies are forced to use several different cloud security tools, each with different configuration options, it is a complex task to ensure that the same security and compliance checks are performed on all cloud holdings.
  • Increased susceptibility to errors: The more manual intervention and duplication of security policies are required, the more room there is for human error and misconfigured security controls.

Best practices for multi-cloud security and compliance

To minimize the complexity and effort of securing a multi-cloud environment, security leaders should follow the following five best practices:

  1. Insist on multi-cloud support: Make sure that your cloud security provider supports multiple cloud provider platforms.
  2. Consolidate cloud security solutions: Use full-stack cloud security solutions (CWPP and CSPM in one – also known as Cloud-native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP)) so that you can reduce the number of individual solutions and replace them with a single tool for all your cloud environments.
  3. Becoming agentless: Eliminate resource-intensive agent implementations that limit responsiveness and hinder your ability to move applications to other cloud platforms on demand.
  4. Platform-specific remedies: Use a cloud security solution with contextual intelligence that prioritizes critical risks and provides platform-specific mitigation instructions to make it easier for users to work on multiple cloud platforms.
  5. Identify cost-saving strategies: Ensure that the CISO is satisfied by using a cloud security tool that allows you to get detailed information about each asset on each cloud platform, including the frequency of use. This allows you to give advice on further cost-saving strategies, such as moving certain applications to other cloud platforms and consolidating or removing redundant services.

In the multi-cloud era, security has become more complex and time-consuming than ever before. However, Orca Security believes that by using a holistic cloud security approach that can establish consistent security controls across multiple cloud environments, complexity and duplication of effort can be significantly reduced. As a result, security teams waste less time on operational tasks and can instead focus on securing the cloud environments.

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