What Is Multicloud Security? Tips and Best Practices

It’s no surprise that modern businesses tend to shift to the cloud due to its security, reliability, and efficiency. It may come as a surprise though that an impressive number of businesses operates in the multicloud environment. And with great power comes great responsibility, right?

Multicloud security is something that every business owner should adopt and follow, But, due to its complexity, it often leaves people puzzled. Below, we talk about what multi-cloud security means, why it can be hard, and what can be done to ensure your application is safeguarded.

What Is Multicloud Security? Tips and Best Practices

Defining the term multicloud

To implement proper security policies, we first need to understand what exactly calls for protection. Hence, let’s define multicloud.

Multicloud implies the use of two or more cloud services by a single organization. For example, a company can use AWS for infrastructure and Google Cloud for activities related to data analytics. In this way, an organization simply leverages the strengths of each cloud provider and allocates resources in a wiser manner.

The use of several cloud solutions is more widespread than you might think. According to the report by Wiz of 2023, 57% of organizations use more than one cloud. If we turn to the report by Statista, in 2023, about 76% of individuals confirmed that their companies follow the multicloud approach.

There are many reasons for that:

  • Flexibility: companies can choose the most suitable services from different providers, scale up and down, and improve the overall performance of their application.
  • No vendor lock-in: the use of multiple vendors prevents vendor lock-in and grants bigger freedom in terms of integrations, flexibility, and change management.
  • Platform independence: the cloud-agnostic approach implies elimination of dependencies and creation of an independent architecture. This means, your app becomes more robust and easier to maintain across multiple cloud platforms.
  • Reliability and performance: because the application is distributed across multiple clouds, a failure in one will not lead to the crash of the entire application. As well, due to effective allocation of resources, you are able to maximize the app’s performance and swiftly switch between services.

What is multi-cloud security and why is it tricky?

Now that we’ve defined multicloud, let’s move forward. What is multi cloud security?

It is a set of security measures and strategies aimed at safeguarding all cloud solutions in use. The number of these solutions make multicloud security so tricky because you need to keep an eye not on one but on two and more clouds – and each has its own peculiar security requirements and policies. 

One more important thing to discuss here is the shared responsibility model. It is a security landscape in a cloud and explains how the responsibility for the security is shared between the provider and the user. Hence, the “shared responsibility” name. 

According to this model, the cloud provider ensures the security of its product – but to a certain extent. If we take Amazon as an example, AWS takes care of the virtualization layer or the operating system. In other words, it controls what’ happening inside the cloud. However, AWS does not control what’s happening outside and who is granted access. Hence, it’s the responsibility of a client to take care of such things as multi-cloud data security, access control, or firewall configurations.

The shared responsibility model is complicated enough for a single cloud and gets even more complicated in the multicloud environment. It is therefore important to carefully study the model of each cloud that you work with and tailor your security practices to its requirements.

The main challenges of multicloud security

The shared responsibility model is not the only challenge that the multicloud environment presents. Below, we list the core multi-cloud security challenges:

  • High complexity. One cloud can be complex enough to fine-tune and manage, and two and more clouds add up to that. Every cloud has its own specific requirements towards management tools, architecture, integrations, and obviously, security. Due to such diversity of requirements, it can be incredibly complex to develop and implement a consistent security strategy and follow it.
  • Poor visibility: Due to the high complexity of the multicloud system, there may be a lack of visibility into its processes and components. And without knowing the exact resources that you have and activities that are happening, it is impossible to establish a robust security layer and sufficient multi cloud network security.
  • Bigger area of attack. Since everything in the multicloud environment is interconnected, there is a higher risk that a malicious activity will impact not only the initial target but other components too. Hence, there is always a risk of a potential attack spreading horizontally and bringing significant damage.
  • Inconsistent security requirements. Every cloud has its own security requirements (even in terms of shared responsibility). It is essential not to misunderstand these requirements and establish consistent security policies, applicable to every cloud that you work with.
  • Integration issues. In case of integrations, the first challenge is often the actual integration in terms of ensuring that all clouds support the selected services and tools. Second, there is an incredible complexity in managing all third-party vendors, which calls for extra use of time and resources.

Tips on improving your multicloud security

As you can see, the biggest issue of the multicloud environment lies in its complexity and lack of consistency. So what can you do to improve your multicloud security and add visibility to the processes while maintaining effective security policies?

AWS Security Best Practices: A Comprehensive Checklist

Amazon Web Services, or AWS for short, is the world’s biggest provider of cloud infrastructure used by thousands of companies. And while it provides an unparalleled number of cloud services of excellent quality, it also gives its clients a bit of headache when it comes to security.

Use specialized tools

When there is an opportunity to make your life easier, it’s better to go with it – use a specialized multi-cloud security solution that is available in the market. A good example is Cisco Multicloud Defense, which is a security as a service solution designed specifically for multiclouds. It offers quick deployment, an array of services to manage your security, and automation of certain processes. In this way, your security policy becomes unified and more organized, yet highly effective.

You can research the available solutions online and see which one fits your exact needs the best. 

Deploy automation

In terms of security, automation is great because 1) it greatly saves your time and 2) is highly reliable for such activities as threats identification. When talking about multcloud security, automation helps with the following:

  • Detection and elimination of threats;
  • Real-time notifications and alerts;
  • Reinforcement of security policies;
  • Standardized templates for better consistency;
  • Validation of compliance requirements.

And the list goes on. As you can see, with automation you don’t have to worry about a bunch of processes and entrust the machine to do the job.

Establish continuous monitoring

We’ve talked about the lack of visibility and how it may negatively affect the overall security of your system. You will therefore need to establish continuous monitoring of your multicloud environment to ensure that all components are visible and that there is a unified view of the whole system. 

Implement and follow standardized security policies

Though the multicloud environment consists of different clouds with unique requirements, it is still possible to establish and maintain standardized and synchronized security policies. Such policies will greatly help you maintain a sufficient level of security and will greatly ease the management of all clouds in use. 

To do so, you will first have to conduct a thorough assessment of all your clouds and see what security requirements overlap. You can then use them as a base for creating a set of uniform policies that will remain the same for all the clouds in deployment.

Use the least privilege approach

The least privilege approach implies that a user is granted the minimum level of access to the system. In other words, the user has access only to the data and functionality that are needed to complete a specific task.

The least privilege approach is highly useful in improving your security, since it does not grant access to unauthorized users and does not let users to the system’s sensitive and critical components. And while it’s not a 100% guarantee against potential attacks, this approach greatly reduces the chances for their occurrence.

Conduct regular reviews

Finally, what might help you monitor and maintain a high level of security are regular reviews. By consistently conducting security assessments across all your clouds, you will be able to increase visibility, identify threats and risks at early stages, and apply needed security measures to areas that call for attention. 

Summing up

Multicloud is awesome and nobody can deny that. At the same time, work in the multicloud environment requires extra effort, especially when it comes to security. We highly recommend carefully reviewing every security layer and applying unified security policies to your system in order to keep it not only up and running but safeguarded too. And if you have any doubts about your multi-cloud security or want to double-check how well your system is protected, drop us a note and our security specialists will gladly help you by providing extensive multi-cloud security services.

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