Multi-cloud environments are becoming increasingly common. Multi-clouds leverage the flexibility of public cloud connectivity across several providers to help organizations remain scalable and flexible.
While multi-cloud offers numerous benefits, it also presents unique security challenges that must be addressed to ensure the security of applications and data hosted in the cloud.
In this article, we will explore the best practices for securing a multi-cloud environment and the benefits of multi-cloud security.
What Is Multi-Cloud?
A multi-cloud environment refers to a cloud computing setup involving multiple cloud services from different providers to manage workloads, applications, and data storage. Companies typically use more than one cloud platform or infrastructure to distribute their computing resources and applications in a multi-cloud environment.
There are different types of cloud computing architectures that organizations can use:
- Private Cloud: A private cloud is an environment that a single organization exclusively uses. The infrastructure is typically on-premises or in a third-party data center and is managed by the organization’s IT department. In either case, hardware and infrastructure are allocated exclusively to a single organization.
- Public Cloud: A public cloud is an environment available to organizations on shared infrastructure. While cloud instances are logically separated, different instances will share hardware and networking resources. Public cloud is typically used by organizations that require scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.
- Hybrid Cloud: A hybrid cloud is an organizational system that combines private and public cloud resources. A Hybrid cloud is typically used by organizations that require a balance between data privacy and security without compromising flexibility and scalability. Hybrid clouds allow for “cloud bursting,” or using public cloud systems to rapidly scale with demand while maintaining core private cloud systems in place.
- Multi-Cloud: A multi-cloud environment is a cloud computing setup involving multiple cloud services from different providers. Multi-cloud systems most typically use various providers of public cloud systems but can also use private or hybrid systems.
Using multiple cloud providers allows organizations to take advantage of the unique features and services offered by each cloud provider, avoid vendor lock-in, and increase resilience and reliability by distributing workloads across multiple providers.
However, managing a multi-cloud environment can be complex and requires expertise in managing and integrating multiple cloud services, monitoring performance, and ensuring security and compliance.
What Are the Challenges of Operating a Multi-Cloud Environment?
A multi-cloud environment presents unique security challenges that must be addressed to ensure the security of applications and data hosted in the cloud. Some of the key security challenges presented by a multi-cloud environment include:
- Increased Complexity: Different providers use different security tools, infrastructure, and APIs/ interfaces. This complexity can make maintaining consistent security policies and controls across the entire multi-cloud environment difficult. This necessitates a focus on either centralizing security controls in a single platform and/or working with multiple vendors to ensure security and compliance… a struggle in some cases when visibility into cloud provider’s systems will often be limited.
- Data Privacy and Compliance: Compliance requirements and data privacy regulations can differ across cloud providers and geographic regions. This can create compliance challenges when dealing with sensitive data (particularly PII and PHI that are processed as part of business operations) that needs to be protected by strict regulations.
- Integration and Interoperability: Multi-cloud security requires strong integration and interoperability between security tools and different platforms. Following this, the complexity mentioned above of multi-cloud systems complicates interoperability between tools and personnel if planned out promptly.
- Data Transfer and Storage: The movement of data between cloud providers and the storage of data across multiple clouds can increase the risk of data breaches, mainly if data is not properly encrypted and protected.
- Vendor Management: Managing multiple cloud providers requires a strong vendor management process to ensure that each provider meets the organization’s security and compliance requirements. This challenge may be compounded by regulations requiring extensive third-party vendor management.
Addressing these unique security challenges requires a holistic approach that involves establishing a comprehensive security framework, implementing strong access controls, monitoring and analyzing cloud activity, and staying up-to-date with emerging security risks and vulnerabilities.
How Can My Organization Start Thinking About Security and Compliance in Our Multi-Cloud System?
Securing a multi-cloud system requires a multi-layered approach addressing security risks across the entire cloud environment. Here are some critical steps to secure a multi-cloud system:
- Establish Security Frameworks: Establish a comprehensive security framework that aligns with the organization’s policies, compliance requirements, and industry best practices.
- Implement Risk Management: Identifying and assessing the risks associated with the multi-cloud environment. This assessment would include evaluations of data flows, storage and processing environments, and vendor contracts.
- Use Strong Access Controls: Implement strong access controls that limit access to cloud resources based on the principle of least privilege. These should include access controls to the individual cloud provider accounts and those related to centralized file systems, administrator dashboards, or applications.
- Monitor Cloud Traffic: Use monitoring tools to collect and analyze logs and other data from the multi-cloud environment. This can include monitoring network traffic between cloud systems, traffic within specific cloud architectures, and mapping traffic and logging events across different cloud providers.
- Encrypt Sensitive Data: Data encryption is non-negotiable. You must encrypt sensitive data at rest and in transit to protect it from unauthorized access or disclosure. These standards represent the demands of compliance standards to the highest degree.
By following these steps, organizations can build a strong security posture that protects their multi-cloud environment and its applications and data.
Count On Continuum GRC to Manage Multi-Cloud Security
Continuum GRC is a cloud platform that can take something as routine and necessary as regular vulnerability scanning and reporting under FedRAMP and make it an easy and timely part of business in the public sector. We provide risk management and compliance support for every major regulation and compliance framework on the market, including:
- NIST 800-53
- FARS NIST 800-171
- SOC 1, SOC 2
- PCI DSS 4.0
- IRS 1075
- COSO SOX
- ISO 27000 Series
- ISO 9000 Series
And more. We are the only FedRAMP and StateRAMP Authorized compliance and risk management solution worldwide.
Continuum GRC is a proactive cyber security® and the only FedRAMP and StateRAMP Authorized cybersecurity audit platform worldwide. Call 1-888-896-6207 to discuss your organization’s cybersecurity needs and find out how we can help your organization protect its systems and ensure compliance.
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