Organizations are migrating to the cloud at a lightning-fast pace. As they consider their options for cloud infrastructure, an increasing number of adopters are seeing the benefits of the multi-cloud. Through this strategy, organizations can diversify their cloud environments by distributing their operations across numerous providers at once. As such, multi-cloud setups give adopters more freedom of choice when it comes to cloud services, while minimizing the risk of vendor lock-in.
Despite the numerous advantages that the multi-cloud affords to organizations, it also comes with its fair share of drawbacks. Security remains one of the biggest concerns among multi-cloud users. The larger the cloud environment, the greater the potential for vulnerability. Many organizations misconfigure their multi-cloud environments, leaving them and their data even more at risk.
If your organization is thinking about adopting the multi-cloud (or if it already has), then you will need to know about security challenges you face in this unique cloud environment. More importantly, you must know which strategies to employ in order to properly configure your own multi-cloud infrastructure and protect your data.
Security challenges plaguing multi-cloud systems
Access—Identity and access management are a critical part of cloud security, but it’s difficult to achieve in a multi-cloud environment. With so many users accessing disparate cloud resources at once, it can be difficult to know who can see which files and applications. Improper access management governance can result in end users having access to data that they shouldn’t. This can leave your entire organization open to attack. If hackers gain access to users’ accounts, then they will be able to view, edit, and download potentially sensitive files.
Reduced visibility—In the multi-cloud, it can prove difficult to streamline security across multiple cloud platforms simultaneously. Each provider uses their own security features, which can make visibility almost impossible to achieve across the cloud environment as a whole. Visibility in the multi-cloud becomes even more difficult when end users download their own cloud service. This can make it hard to glean the location of the data they are using on a daily basis.
Enhanced complexity—Multi-cloud environments are, by nature, the most complex cloud systems you can build. As you incorporate more services from more providers, your “attack surface” broadens and leaves your system more vulnerable to attack. In most cases, each vendor uses its own security measures to protect your data, adding even more complexity to your cloud environment and making it more difficult to secure your resources.
Unknown threats—The multi-cloud is still a relatively new concept in the world of cloud computing. It’s difficult to determine all the potential vulnerabilities involved with the use of the multi-cloud. As these environments continue to grow in popularity, the number of security threats will most likely increase.
What can be done to mitigate security threats in the multi-cloud
When adopting the multi-cloud, a far-reaching and robust security strategy will be the best tool to prevent both current and future threats. Here are a few tactics that you can use to improve your multi-cloud security across the board:
Use application hardening—It is vital that you take the necessary steps to harden your cloud applications against potential threats to their security. In a complex cloud environment, you should always be aware of which application programming interfaces (APIs) are exposed and what level of control you already have over them. The next step to hardening your applications involves developing strategies to mitigate the effects of an attack should any one of them become compromised.
Encrypt everything—As logical as it may seem to encrypt the data that you house in the cloud, many adopters don’t make encryption part of their security strategies. Encryption is more vital in the multi-cloud than in any other cloud environment. When you store potentially sensitive files in multiple cloud environments at once, you need to be able to keep unauthorized users from gaining access to that information.
When encrypting your data, you should use a separate encryption key for each of your cloud platforms. Though this can make the process of transferring data between platforms more onerous, it mitigates the risk of attacks in one environment leaking into the others.
Employ monitoring systems—Each of your cloud providers will offer their own monitoring tools, but these are limited to each disparate platform in your multi-cloud environment. To ensure the security of your entire infrastructure, you must deploy a monitoring system that takes your entire cloud deployment into account. Leaving even a tiny corner untouched can open your entire organization up to threats. Your monitoring system must give you a current view of all the data that is contained within your multi-cloud environment. The closer that you monitor your data, the better prepared you will be to prevent attacks before they become a bigger issue.
Focus on your security policies—Individual tactics will help to bolster your cloud security to a degree, but they should only be one part of a much broader security policy. Developing clear policies about security will ensure that every member of your organization adheres to certain security procedures, no matter which file or application they may be using. More importantly, your security policy should be cloud agnostic. Having a consistent policy across all the cloud platforms that you use will leave much less room for risk.