Cloud Security: How Security is Affected

How secure is your data when it’s stored in the cloud?

When it comes to Cloud Security, it is very common to believe that using a reputable server to store data online is enough to keep applications safe.

Have you ever wondered if your business data is safe enough in the cloud?

Of course, large companies that work with this type of service invest heavily in Cloud Security. But it is not entirely up to them to keep your data and applications secure?

In this article, we will cover the precautions we should take into consideration when using online servers to store data to ensure cloud security and therefore your applications.

Cloud Storage vs. Weaknesses

One thing is right, the arrival of containers in the structure of companies is a big change in the way they create and structure their sets of services.

The biggest impact certainly came from the development area, which now has greater control over services, which can now be created directly by their developers to support their applications.

However, even with these advantages, we cannot fail to note that this facility has also brought some safety issues that need to be addressed.

This is where Cloud Security needs to be addressed: With the creation of faster and faster services, the security tools used can’t always keep up with the evolution of new structures.

Where do we see problems?

When we talk about Cloud Security, the adoption of container solutions has facilitated the development process.

However, we must note that it also brought new challenges for security and development teams.

This means that the ease of building new container-based solutions from configuration files or even new images downloaded from sources, which are not always the most reliable, can bring a range of new vulnerabilities to the framework.

Using these vulnerabilities, attackers are even more likely to infiltrate applications and even the very infrastructure that supports these applications.

Thus, as we have already suggested on this article, validating image security as well as validating sources is important to ensure container security.

Knowing your structure and how it is working is critical to maintaining security.

According to Gartner, by 2021 50% of companies will have in their structure (IaaS) a service or even an API made available to the Internet incorrectly. This exposes applications to new points of attack.

The presence of more services directly connected to the Internet in an insecure way is already part of our daily life, given the amount of data leakage caused by service configuration failures such as Amazon S3 (AWS).

However, this is not unique to AWS, many third-party services are also made unprotected.

The importance of validations in Cloud Security becomes even more evident when we look at Tripware’s research findings in partnership with Dimension Research.

The survey mentions that 60% of interviewees reported that their companies had container security issues in the past year, which is quite alarming.

However, most interviewees said they were unsure about the security mechanisms applied to their containers, as well as cloud security.

This results in a high price paid for this failure, often with an extremely significant impact: both financially and the company’s image to its public.

Searching Cloud Security Solutions

But not all is lost: one of the possible solutions to the cloud as well as container security problem is in the process of deploying these solutions.

It is important that the deploy process is well structured and rigorously validated.

In addition, applying an immutable container structure to cloud storage gives systems, as a whole, more security, and control.

The concept of immutability, where the container used will not change during use, may be one of the security tools within the new DevSecOps toolbox.

So when thinking about Cloud Security, immutability can make implementing security on containers easier.

This is because once the container creation parameters are set, it will remain with the same characteristic until its use is no longer needed.

And when a change is needed, new guidelines can be created and new images generated.

This concept contradicts the idea of ​​changeable servers, traditional in the use of internal and even cloud structures, which, as we saw above, could compromise cloud security.

The big problem with changeable servers would be the fact that they are going through a lot of changes, and that would make it even harder to manage and control cloud security as well as the application.

Caution: We understand that maintaining a changeable server can have its advantages, but when we look at the big picture, the disadvantages can be much greater!

The big problem is that you can get to the point where there are so many server changes, that one of these changes could end up influencing the behavior of another component, thereby introducing one or more vulnerabilities, compromising cloud security.

Microservices gain visibility into Cloud Security

When we put together the concepts of containers, immutability, and microservices we can say that it is possible to make an application available in a few hours.

This allows a solution to be built on small individual service blocks, each in its container.

This from the point of view of a development framework is excellent!

However, from a cloud security point of view, it is increasingly complex, which can compromise application security.

Now we need to imagine that when we put more containers and more microservices available on the Internet, we are literally multiplying the attack surface of our structure.

To ensure that this has no unwanted reflexes, the ongoing application validation process must be strengthened and well structured within our development teams.

How to strengthen Cloud Security

We have seen above that when we talk about agile development with cloud and container storage, we bring together the concepts of containers, immutability, and microservices.

Therefore, we can only list here some important points when we talk about cloud security related to microservices.

1. Encryption as a defense of manipulated data

One of the first points we need to understand is that we have an obligation to defend all the data we are manipulating.

With this in mind, a first recommendation is to encrypt data that is in transit or even stored

2. Monitoring of microservices behavior

If we imagine that many of these microservices will maintain contact and exchange data between them, it is important that there is a monitoring process in order to discover any communication anomalies.

3. Security Policy Automation

As we commented, by placing in our structure containers and microservices we increase the complexity of our structure, so we cannot lose focus on the administration of all the components we manage.

With this in mind, a good practice for container security is to automate security policies that will apply to all available service tiers and frameworks. This reduces the possibility of errors during operation.

A change in Cloud Security perspective

In this interesting article on the subject, Dror Davidoff, co-founder and CEO of Acqua Security, states that we have to broaden the perspective beyond the Shift Left model – an old acquaintance of development teams.

We have to think about structure protection, so it addresses the concept of Shift Up.

To think of Shift Up is to think of application-layered protection – that’s when we think of network layers.

This thought makes sense when we look at how new container structures can pose more risks when compromised, thereby affecting cloud security.

This means that the concern to better understand how these new structures work should be a priority for development teams, even before seeking to implement this as a solution.

Therefore, taking a closer look at the aspects covered in this article is important because only then we can improve Cloud Security as a whole.

Why tools are not enough to maintain cloud security

As fully noted, most companies still continue to use tools as a security approach.

However, standalone tools are not a solution, and without proper care and validation of results can even compromise application security.

This turns out to be one of the most common problems that companies without a higher degree of maturity face when the same tools are not properly prepared for these validations.

In these cases, to ensure Cloud Security, the best action is to create validation mechanisms run by experienced professionals who can look for weaknesses that a tool would not be able to.

Human Creativity in Cloud Security Attacks

When talking about such a complex topic as Cloud Security, it is important to note that on the other side is not a tool-making an attack, but a strong opponent with knowledge and imagination, able to create new ways to cheat security mechanisms.

That said, only a human can understand and simulate the complexity of the actions of another human being, which cannot yet be perfectly simulated by any tool alone.

About author


Over 15 years of experience in Information Security and Applications, graduated in Data Processing worked as a Professor and participated actively as an instructor on trainings to more than 6000 developers and IT teams. Father of two daughters and trader on free time.
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