Despite all the buzz over the past decade, the cloud remains a bit of a mystery for many users who rely on it day-to-day. The cloud has made it easy for companies to embrace a number of "as-a-service" technologies seamlessly and lowered cost by eliminating the need to purchase security tools and appliances.
Yet adopting cloud operations blindly – as with any new workflow or technology – comes with risks. This is especially important in the context of how these tools are delivered, and whether they are a good fit for an organization based in specific needs.
All Clouds Are Not Created Equal
For starters, there is not just one single cloud. There are a wealth of cloud-based security providers that own dedicated server space across the globe, and each of their offerings is unique based upon their own business focus and target demographics. The cloud providers operating most widely in the enterprise are shared-tenant cloud environments where customers’ data and information is managed in one database and controlled using the same central operating system.
While a shared environment may not be much of a concern when cloud applications are used for programs such as marketing, that don't involve customer data or other personal identifiable information. However, there may be significant impacts on enterprises who store and manage customer data in the cloud, for example, when security tools might redirect a customer’s traffic from one jurisdiction to a data center in a location with a different set of compliance standards. If a business operates within an industry that is privy to heavy regulations – especially where geolocation and PII sharing is concerned – they need to be sure their cloud provider isn’t bringing the data to a location that leaves them exposed to noncompliance penalties.
A prime example of this is the increased regulations stemming from Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR – which dictates strict rules about collecting personally identifiable information (PII) – further complicate the issue of protecting customer data in the cloud. When a customer’s data is in a multi-tenant cloud that is shared, the ability to isolate a customer’s data becomes difficult. Next-generation cloud security solutions are making fast-work of addressing this, by leveraging multi-tenant cloud platforms with non-shared architectures, which give each customer their own operating system for content management and control.
Synchronized Management Workflow
A significant concern when implementing cloud security solutions from a multi-tenant shared cloud provider is that these tools might force organizations to employ a number of non-compatible security solutions, requiring multiple management consoles that create a disjointed workflow. For instance, in situations where organizations are collecting highly sensitive information, they may require an on-premises secure web gateway to ensure that data is isolated from outside traffic. The traditional ‘hybrid’ solution – using cloud-based and on-premises security tools to vet traffic –doesn’t provide a seamless view across the organization, resulting in security blind spots that impact the ability of teams to respond to an incident.
The majority of newer cloud security solutions within the industry decouple the physical from the virtual and provide a multi-tenant cloud with non-shared resources that deliver the best of both worlds. The result is greater visibility across the organization, shorter incident response times and substantial cost savings by avoiding the need to purchase appliances. Businesses need to consider protections that can align their security mission without forcing teams to continually purchase hardware and overcomplicate their security infrastructure.