The term "hybrid cloud security" is used to refer to the mechanisms put in place to ensure the safety of data and applications in a hybrid cloud environment. Hybrid cloud architectures allow businesses to balance control and flexibility by using public and private cloud resources.
In this way, organisations can move the secure and confidential workload that requires a high level of control to the private cloud while the rest of the workforce can take advantage of the public cloud.
The mechanism involved in hybrid cloud security is to protect the whole IT infrastructure, such as on-premises, public and private cloud. The core objective of hybrid cloud security is encouraging organisations to distribute their data across various locations, thus enhancing security and optimising storage costs.
In this way, businesses can defend their assets from malicious insider and outsider cyberattacks. The hybrid cloud security protocols involve strong security postures and unified protection mechanisms across different cloud deployments, allowing security managers to enforce security policies and protocols from a single panel.
To know more about hybrid security mechanisms, we need to understand what a hybrid cloud is and why businesses use it.
Understanding Hybrid Cloud and its Benefits
In this digital age of cloud networks, a hybrid cloud environment is essential when both applications and users work outside the traditional network security perimeters. A hybrid cloud environment is a blend of both public and private cloud environments.
This kind of cloud infrastructure allows users to access the on-premises infrastructure wherever necessary. Organisations can use the hybrid cloud environment to assess workload between private and public cloud depending on cost changes and computing needs.
Public cloud networks include Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and more third-party services are available as software-as-a-service applications or storage options for free or various pricing models that users can access remotely. This public cloud model is only responsible for infrastructure security, and users have to look after the data security.
While private cloud networks are installed on-premise cloud infrastructure for only one particular organisation, this infrastructure is complicated to deploy and generally more expensive than private cloud networks. Employing hybrid cloud infrastructure offers low operational costs, better scaling, deployment and more. But on top of that, it improves the organisation's security posture.
Some of the benefits of a hybrid cloud environment are:
- Businesses don't have to spend on maintenance costs with public cloud infrastructure as third-party providers will look after the software and hardware issues.
- Another benefit of using hybrid cloud environments is easy scalability since the business has a network of servers on demand to do the heavy lifting.
- Lastly, businesses can save money by investing in a hybrid cloud environment, as they don't have to spend on the software and hardware of a public cloud network.
What are the Benefits of Hybrid Cloud Security?
As mentioned, hybrid cloud security uses a set of protocols and mechanisms to protect the data and information stored in the hybrid cloud environment.
The goal of the security system is to guarantee the safety of all stored and transmitted information in the cloud. Here are some of the critical benefits of employing hybrid cloud security.
- By employing hybrid cloud infrastructure, organisations can store sensitive data in multiple destinations, so you won't end up risking the whole data and information in case of attacks.
- With a hybrid cloud infrastructure, organisations and businesses have private and public options to store sensitive data based on security control. High-sensitive information can be stored on the private infrastructure, while less sensitive data can move to the public cloud network.
- Lastly, with a hybrid cloud environment, businesses can comply effectively with private regulations like GDPA, CCPR, etc.
Understanding the Hybrid Cloud Security Architecture
To understand the hybrid cloud architecture, we need to understand the workings of hybrid cloud security. Generally, private and public cloud infrastructure security starts at the physical or hardware level, which means the security of on-premises web servers. These web servers usually store data in the form of files, resources, proprietary code and more.
The data in a hybrid cloud is usually stored in various data servers in cloud environments; it is encrypted or protected so that only valid applications and users can access the information from servers and use it. The whole mechanism of hybrid cloud security employs the zero-trust model.
The private and on-premise cloud web servers go through microsegmentation to divide the data into two groups based on security and workloads. This process divides or isolates the data using specific security controls.
These establish "demilitarised zones," or DMZs, which restrict an attack's blast range and prevent entry to servers and confidential information. By acting as a buffer, these DMZs enable businesses to open up specific services to the public Internet while maintaining network security throughout.
By isolating data with security measures, organisations can limit whole data access in cyber attack threats. Further, with additional layers of protection like a firewall, organisations can separate on-premise cloud environments from public cloud environments.
Components of Hybrid Cloud Security
The hybrid cloud security architecture focuses on providing attention to all layers of security mesh. Hybrid cloud security is divided into components, which are physical, technical or virtual and administrative components.
- Physical Components -The hybrid cloud infrastructure has various physical locations, either third-party or enterprise locations, requiring security. The physical infrastructure should be well protected to keep attackers away. The security measures in physical controls include limiting access to server rooms, storage facilities, and other locations that house vital information.
It also includes planting surveillance devices such as CCTV cameras, motion detectors, and tracking systems to monitor access to vital equipment and spot any unlawful activity immediately.
Further, physical components also provide security against unforeseen circumstances like incidents or disasters. In such a case, the devices should have built-in storage to prevent data loss during data corruption or any other event.
- Virtual or Technical Components - The virtual components of hybrid cloud security are encryption, orchestration, automation, accessibility and endpoint security.
- Encryption - The encryption in hybrid cloud security infrastructure is offered at several layers, such as when the data is at rest, in transit or use, not in use or more, preventing information leakage.
- Orchestration - Another virtual and technical component is the orchestration process, which ensures that various security technologies, systems, and procedures cooperate harmoniously to safeguard the hybrid cloud environment by automating their coordination.
- Accessibility - It is the component of the hybrid security framework that denies and permits access to resources. This component is mainly based on zero-trust principles. Users will have the privilege to only access resources based on their job and work.
- Automation - Another virtual component is automated components that perform monotonous or repeated security tasks such as monitoring, adding security patches, checking compliance and more.
- Endpoint security - The hybrid cloud environment can be accessed by multiple devices and users, and the risk of potential unauthorised access is also enhanced. That's why it has endpoint security components to revoke unauthorised access or wipe the data if the device is hacked.
- Administrative Controls - Administrative control in network security architecture employs training and security workshops to make employees or the workforce aware of security breaches and how they can harm the organisation.
Businesses can raise awareness and educate their employees by organising training and seminars.
What are the Hybrid Cloud Security Issues and Challenges?
When it comes to protecting or securing the hybrid cloud environment, it is a complicated process compared to traditional security measures.
No doubt, hybrid cloud environments offer flexibility to businesses to keep data in an environment based on their preferences while also posing some unique security issues. There are various security issues and challenges associated with hybrid cloud security:
- Shared Security Responsibility Model - One of the biggest challenges in hybrid cloud security is the shared responsibility model between cloud providers and businesses. It means both parties that are business and third-party cloud providers are responsible for the security of the hybrid cloud model.
For that, businesses and organisations need to understand the security offered by cloud providers and what they need to do on their end to offer all-around security to the infrastructure.
- Application security - Another challenge associated with hybrid cloud environments is application security. The cloud application has various security risks; several products, such as app monitoring, authentication, and more, can help overcome them.
In short, cloud applications may have different security configurations and requirements; managing and securing them is a logistical challenge.
- Visibility and control - Another prominent security challenge in hybrid cloud networks is visibility and control. Since private and public cloud networks are managed separately, it is difficult to have visibility and control over every aspect of the network.
Further, without any centralised system and panel, monitoring and troubleshooting security issues can be a tiring process.
- Incident handling -Incident handling is another security concern in hybrid cloud environments. Since the infrastructure is divided and distributed, identifying the origin and source of the incident can be challenging.
The response with respect to the incident also becomes challenging due to the inability to find the source point. This generally delays the issue-resolving process.
- Compliance Issues - Lastly, data in hybrid cloud environments moves through private and public cloud networks.
If the sensitive data moves freely in a public network can invite serious compliance violations and penalties. This is another security challenge many organisations face in hybrid cloud architecture.
How to Overcome Hybrid Cloud Security Challenges?
To overcome the various hybrid cloud security challenges, organisations need to do the following:
- It is necessary to employ a centralised management system that is visible across all the infrastructure to overcome the visibility challenges in hybrid cloud environments. Using the centralised management system, security managers can keep an eye on resources, and in case a breach happens, they can mitigate or control the risk using a central dashboard.
- To overcome compliance issues, organisations need an open-source automation tool that can scan and remediate security controls at regular intervals to check if everything is within control.
- Further, to overcome the shared security responsibility, companies need to have a proper operating module in the cloud environment. They should provide training and awareness to employees, contractors and users of their hybrid cloud environment. The training and awareness program should be around data and network security.
- Another security issue is incident handling in case of breach. To overcome it is also essential to have proper communication and a defined set of rules that needs to be released in case of breach.
- Having an automated solution to identify the weak links in infrastructure will help mitigate the cyber risks.
- By enforcing the zero trust security model, businesses can provide the least privileged access and strong authentication, further removing the unauthorised access challenge.
Hybrid Cloud Security Best Practices
Hybrid cloud security is a complex process with a broad layer of security measures that need proper planning and implementation. Below are some of the best hybrid cloud security practices that must be followed.
- Data classification and protection - The first thing businesses must do is classify the data based on its confidentiality and sensitivity. It will help organisations and businesses determine where to store the data, how to access it and more. The organisation will implement security measures based on the preferences like access controls, encryption, backup, etc.
- Access control and identity management - Another best practice for hybrid security models is to have robust access control and identity management protocols in place. Having privileged access and role-based access control will ensure that only certain users can access sensitive data and resources. To help in achieving the same zero trust model can be the best way.
- Network security and segmentation - Further ensuring network security and segmentation is also necessary in hybrid cloud environments since the data are distributed among multiple providers and locations. By enforcing rigid security measures such as web application firewalls, network firewalls, network segmentation and more, businesses can make sure that all the incoming and outgoing traffic is limited only to authorised users and applications.
- Encryption and key management - Encryption is critical in hybrid cloud security environments since it protects the data in rest and transit. By using encryption keys, organisations can ensure that only the users with access to keys can enter the network and access resources. However, it is also essential to have complete security for the encryption keys.
- Continuous monitoring and incident response - Lastly, to ensure proper working in a hybrid cloud environment and no cyberattacks, it is essential to continuously monitor security logs and events to identify any potential threats. Further, if there is any breach or incident, the business should have a response plan to deal with the incident. It should clarify the roles and responsibilities of users, security measures to take, communication protocols and more to escalate the problem.
Mitigating Common Hybrid Cloud Security Threats
Hybrid cloud environments have various other common security threats that need to be mitigated. These threats are:
- Data breach - Data breach is widespread in hybrid cloud environments since it is open to private and public cloud networks. It is best to have role-based access control to prevent this kind of breach. Not just this, it is best to analyse the behaviour of users and track activities if they have access to sensitive information.
- Account hijacking - If the attackers have access to the user's credentials, they can risk the whole organisation's security. Account hijacking is prevalent, and to prevent it, businesses need to have vital access and control protocols like multifactor authentication, a combination of strong passwords and more.
- Insider threat - Furthermore, businesses need to be cautious about insider threats. Insider threats are nothing but the employees or contractors working for businesses who are exposing and stealing company data. By enforcing least privilege access, businesses can grant access to only those resources that are needed for doing the job. In case of suspicion against an employee, close activity monitoring can also help.
- Misconfigurations - Another common security threat in hybrid cloud environments is improper installation of security software, which will open a window for unauthorised access. It is best to conduct a configuration audit to know if any changes or modification is needed in the security infrastructure to avoid such mistakes.
- Malware - Lastly, using malware detection software on laptops and desktops is best to prevent ransomware and attacks. These antivirus software not only back the data but also keep an eye on any suspicious activity.
Hybrid Cloud Security with InstaSafe
A hybrid cloud environment is a reliable option for businesses and organisations as it is very convenient and cost-efficient. However, no business wants to compromise on security. But what if we say you can secure the hybrid cloud environment with InstaSafe?
Instasafe's Zero Trust Security solutions help businesses in their digital transformation journey. With Zero Trust Application Access and Zero Trust Network Access, businesses can enhance the security of the whole infrastructure since the solution works on the "Never Trust, Always Verify" policy.
With the InstaSafe ZTNA solution, you will have granular visibility of user activity, hence improving your organisation's security posture.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is hybrid and multi-cloud security?
A hybrid cloud is a mixture of private and public cloud networks, while multi-cloud uses simply two or more cloud services, which can be private or public.
2. Are hybrid clouds secure?
Hybrid cloud networks have some security challenges that can expose the data to attack. However, hybrid cloud security mechanisms like encryption are necessary to mitigate the attack.
3. Which cloud is safer, private cloud or hybrid cloud?
Certain risks are associated with the cloud environment and security depending on the organisation's security protocols and approaches.