What is hybrid cloud security?
Hybrid cloud security is the protection of your data, applications, and infrastructures across a combination of public and private cloud environments. Hybrid cloud environments offer users a lot of choice and flexibility. You can keep sensitive or critical data off of the public cloud while still taking advantage of the cloud for data that doesn’t have the same kinds of risk associated with it.
Why choose hybrid cloud for enhanced security?
Hybrid clouds let enterprises choose where to place workloads and data based on compliance, audit, policy, or security requirements.
While the various environments that make up a hybrid cloud remain unique and separate entities, migrating between them is facilitated by encrypted application programming interfaces (APIs) that help transmit resources and workloads. This separate—yet connected—architecture is what allows enterprises to run critical workloads in the private cloud and less sensitive workloads in the public cloud, pulling resources from either environment as desired. It’s an arrangement that minimizes data exposure and allows enterprises to customize a flexible IT portfolio.
What are some hybrid cloud security challenges?
Protecting your data
Limit data exposure for your organization through encryption. The same data will be either in transit or at rest at different moments in time. You need a variety of security to limit data exposure during either of these states. Learn more below in "tools for hybrid cloud security."
Compliance and governance
If you work in a highly regulated sector like healthcare, finances, or government, hybrid cloud infrastructure may present additional considerations. Know how to check your distributed environments to make sure that they are compliant; how to implement custom or regulatory security baselines; and how to prepare for security audits.
Security in the supply chain
Hybrid cloud environments often include products and software from multiple vendors in a complicated ecosystem. Know how your vendors test and manage their software and products. Understand when and how your vendors have inspected source code, how and which implementation guidelines they follow, and how and when vendors can provide updates and patches.
How to monitor hybrid cloud security through automation
Mixed environments like hybrid cloud add even more complexity into your IT environment. To maintain security and control, you need a way to cut through that complexity and clearly view your entire distributed environment.
Manual monitoring for security and compliance often has more risks than rewards. Manual patches and configuration management risk being implemented asynchronously. It also makes implementing self-service systems more difficult. If there is a security breach, records of manual patches and configurations risk being lost and can lead to team in-fighting and finger-pointing. Additionally, manual processes tend to be more error prone and take more time. Instead, try to automate everything you can.
Automation gives you the ability to set rules, share, and verify processes which ultimately make it easier to pass security audits. As you evaluate your hybrid cloud environments, think about automating the following processes:
- Monitoring your environments
- Checking for compliance
- Implementing patches
- Implementing custom or regulatory security baselines
Tools for hybrid cloud security
In addition to automation, there are steps you can take to limit data exposure for your organization.
Protect your data at rest:
Full disk (partition encryption) protects your data while your computer is off. Try the Linux Unified Key Setup-on-disk (LUSK) format which can encrypt your hard drive partitions in bulk.
Hardware encryption that will protect the hard drive from unauthorized access. Try the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which is a hardware chip that stores cryptographic keys. When the TPM is enabled, the hard drive is locked until the user is able to authentic their login.
Encrypt root volumes without manually entering your passwords. If you have built a highly automated cloud environment, build upon that work with automated encryption. If you are using Linux, try the Network Bound Disk Encryption (NBDE) which works on both physical and virtual machines. Bonus: make TPM part of the NBDE and provide two layers of security (the NMDE will help protect networked environments, while the TPM will work on premises).
Protect your data in motion:
- Encrypt your network session. Data in motion is at a much higher risk of interception and alteration. Try the Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) which is an extension of the Internet Protocol that uses cryptography.
- Select products that already implement security standards. Look for products that support the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) Publication 140-2 which uses cryptographic modules to protect high-risk data.
IT security doesn’t happen all at once
IT security takes time and needs iteration. The security landscape is always changing. Instead of putting pressure on yourself to get to a state of perfect security (which does not exist), focus on placing one foot in front of the other and taking reasonable, well-thought-out actions to make you more secure today than you were yesterday.
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