Multicloud Security Challenges Will Persist in 2023

Some predictions about impending security challenges, with a few tips for proactively addressing them.

Rich Campagna, Senior Vice President and General Manager, CNAPP, Zscaler

January 25, 2023

4 Min Read
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Cloud transformation has become a strategic advantage for many organizations, providing convenience, cost savings, and near-permanent uptimes compared with on-premises infrastructure. At the same time, the move to cloud has also increased the attack surface, resulting in an uptick in criminal activity targeting cloud environments. As we roll into 2023, fears about a potential recession and a corresponding desire to cut costs are renewing urgency to move to the public cloud.

For organizations to successfully secure cloud environments, they must understand the critical risks that can be exploited by attackers to infiltrate cloud environments. As with legitimate activity in the cloud, attackers continue to evolve their approaches, so the challenges faced in 2023 will be different than those faced in 2022 and prior. Here are my top 2023 predictions.

Multicloud Environments Will Continue to Compound Security Challenges

Multicloud offers numerous benefits, from avoiding vendor lock-in to reliability, agility, and cost-efficiency. At the same time, however, it brings additional layers of complexity, particularly regarding security management. According to a recent report, 78% of organizations deploy applications on more than three public clouds.

Moreover, the number of services available from the top three public cloud providers (Amazon Web Services, Azure, and Google) is expected to surpass 1,000, up from 750 today. In an effort to embrace agility and innovation, security practitioners will need to find ways to support these news services as soon as they are available.

With each cloud provider's unique capabilities enhanced and expanded almost daily, organizations will have to invest in automated tools that map new services to security and compliance frameworks, like NIST, CIS, and others.

Securing Developer Environments Will Become the Most Critical Component

The continuous growth and diversity of application deployments are creating an extensive attack surface for malicious actors. We have seen cybersecurity incidents like SolarWinds, Kaseya, and Spring4Shell significantly impact organizations.

On the other hand, we also see issues like Log4j, which recently demonstrated how many organizations can be impacted due to software vulnerabilities. Hence, we expect securing developer environments will become one of the most critical components for organizations in 2023.

DevSecOps Tool Sprawl Will Begin to Consolidate

According to Gartner, of those organizations that have implemented a DevSecOps pipeline for cloud security, "these organizations have manually stitched together DevSecOps with 10 or more disparate security tools — some old and some new — each with siloed responsibility and view of application risk."

Recognizing the overhead with managing so many tools, and the challenges with achieving consistent policies across cloud providers and services, information security teams will increasingly standardize on broader platforms, such as cloud-native application protection platforms, at the expense of point products, such as cloud security posture management, infrastructure-as-code scanners, and cloud workload protection platforms.

Focused Approach for Data Protection

Monitoring data across multicloud environments has been an unsolved problem for a couple of years for most organizations. When production workloads are moved between multiple public cloud environments, it becomes difficult to track data or access permissions. Tools for cloud service providers have limitations to secure data in multicloud environments.

In 2023, organizations need to adopt new tool sets and new mindsets, and make a greater effort to detect, classify, and enforce policies to secure sensitive data. We expect data protection to be at the center of the cloud security strategy to avoid increasingly high-profile, complex cyberattacks and data breaches.

Do More With Less

The current economic climate is pointing toward a trend of tighter budgets in 2023. To combat this challenge, leaders will be consolidating tools, processes, and expertise with a more collaborative approach. We'll see wider use of cross-functional teams with even greater ROI focus to boost efficiency and reduce complexity.

Cybersecurity Hiring Will Remain a Challenge

According to the (ISC)2 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, there is a shortage of 3.4 million cybersecurity workers worldwide. With limited staff, we expect security leaders to emphasize security automation with risk-based prioritization.

How to Stay Safe in 2023

Based on our experience of investigating attacks and related incidents, we believe that security leaders need to focus on the following tactics and techniques:

  • Cloud security approach and strategy: With the prevalence of large-scale cloud-native deployments, adopting a more modern, agile, and integrated cybersecurity approach is mission-critical.

  • Select the right tooling: Shifting to robust security with the right solutions and level of expertise, over security layers and threat intelligence.

  • Prioritizing visibility: Gain insight and control over the complex cloud environment covering threats, risks, and vulnerabilities in the cloud.

  • Data security in focus: Secure data in large, dispersed environments with strategic integrated data protection and DLP approach.

  • Threat intelligence, advanced correlation, and machine-learning techniques: Use a combination of advanced techniques to stay ahead of bad actors and proactively reduce risk.

  • Automate and maintain continuous compliance standards.

  • Team collaboration: Distribute and delegate security responsibilities using automation across the organization.

Read more Partner Perspectives from Zscaler.

About the Author(s)

Rich Campagna

Senior Vice President and General Manager, CNAPP, Zscaler

Rich Campagna is senior vice president and general manager, CNAPP at Zscaler, where he leads strategy for securing public cloud infrastructure and workloads. In his 20+ years in technology, Rich has held product management and marketing leadership positions at Balbix, Bitglass, F5 Networks and Juniper Networks. Rich received an M.B.A. from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

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