Cybersecurity in the Cloud: Navigating Emerging Risks

By Jon Lucas, co-founder and director of Hyve Managed Hosting.

  • 1 month ago Posted in

The rapid pace of digital change in recent years has significantly impacted how security teams operate and secure their data and workloads. The evolving nature of cyber-attacks, with ransomware becoming more sophisticated and vulnerabilities in outdated legacy infrastructure appearing daily, makes it hard to overstate the importance of robust security measures.

When it comes to cloud computing, there is also growing concern about the security risks associated with over-reliance on a single public cloud platform. This situation is commonly known as 'cloud concentration' when an organisation becomes entirely dependent on one cloud provider. This scenario exposes businesses to vulnerabilities, such as limited security control, breaches, outages, and compliance challenges.

The recognised risks of cloud concentration sparked the trend towards distributed cloud strategies when organisations began to split some or all of their workloads between public and private clouds, creating diversified hybrid or multi-cloud infrastructures and, in some cases, moving away from public cloud infrastructure altogether.

In this article, we suggest reflecting on how the rapid adoption of new cloud strategies has impacted cybersecurity and what potential solutions exist.

The challenges of concentrating on public cloud

Mass adoption of and reliance on cloud services has been steady for several years, and the public cloud market — with its range of new products and services — has reached unprecedented heights. However, many organisations using the public cloud have started to realise that their security isn't up to scratch because it is difficult to tailor off-the-shelf public cloud solutions to meet the specific needs of each business.

While the public cloud offers scalability and innovation, its multi-tenant nature can create unforeseen vulnerabilities. Sharing hardware resources among multiple tenants presents security and operational challenges, leading many organisations to evaluate data storage options. In addition, popular private cloud services can be difficult to exit. Enterprises often face the challenge of vendor lock-in, which poses significant security and financial risks.

Moving away from concentrating all workloads in a public cloud environment, companies are searching for a more personalised approach to the cloud. They are exploring private, hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructure options, with the managed public cloud element receiving a more tailored approach to security and overall business IT needs. By carefully considering the security requirements and limitations of the public cloud, organisations can reap the benefits of the personalised cloud for a more secure and successful cloud journey.

The move to hybrid and multi-cloud

A common solution to mitigate cloud concentration risks is using a distributed cloud approach, also known as cloud diversification. Hybrid and multi-cloud architectures, which involve multiple cloud environments, are the most popular forms of distributed cloud infrastructure.

A hybrid cloud incorporates different forms of infrastructure, commonly including an on-premise or private cloud environment in combination with a public cloud service. Hybrid cloud architecture offers the security benefits of private cloud infrastructure while keeping the system scalable and flexible through public cloud resources.

Multi-cloud refers to using multiple cloud computing services from various vendors within a single, heterogeneous architecture. This means that an organisation can pick and choose the most optimal services and features from different, often specialised, cloud service providers to meet the organisation’s needs.

Hybrid and multi-cloud solutions allow companies to split their workloads and run backups across different environments, reducing the impact that one disaster or incident with a provider has on their infrastructure.

As organisations diversify their cloud resources and move towards hybrid and multi-cloud solutions, they often face complexities in managing these environments. These indications can be addressed by working with Managed Cloud Service Providers (MSPs), a team with the skills and knowledge to simplify working with complex cloud infrastructures and manage emerging cloud misconfigurations and application vulnerabilities.

The shortage of cloud experts

In cyber security, less control often means more vulnerability. One of the challenges organisations have faced in recent years as they have tried to regain control of their cloud infrastructures is a talent shortage.

Maximising the potential of utilising hybrid and multi-cloud solutions required people with expertise, and the annual postings of cloud jobs grew more than 90% between 2017 and 2020. Yet, in 2023, 80% of organisations still didn’t have a dedicated cloud lead or team, let alone a dedicated cloud security team. To make matters worse, public cloud hyperscalers swooped in and hired a lot of the top cloud talent, leaving their customers with even fewer opportunities.

As a result of the missing competency, the cloud migration trend has led to several challenges, including misconfigurations, lack of visibility, security oversights, and suboptimal cloud performance—all of which have eaten away at the security benefits, cost savings, and performance improvements of migrating in the first place.

2024 and beyond

But what’s the solution? Companies can’t wait for the talent shortage to improve on its own, and there’s no guarantee it will. Yet, they must still diversify their cloud infrastructures in 2024 and beyond if they want to secure their operations.

Investing in both hiring new cloud talents and upskilling current employees could be an effective solution, but this approach can be challenging and time-consuming. Another option would be partnering with an MSP team which is specialising in cloud management and security. This route leverages the expertise of a dedicated team to configure, manage, and secure the cloud environment, ensuring robust security measures are in place and continuously monitored.

The third option is to continue cloud operations without making any changes. However, this option has proven to be risky, with 39% of businesses experiencing a breach in their cloud environment. As evidenced by the trends we witnessed in 2023, cloud security should remain a top priority in 2024 and should seek new solutions.

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