Written by George Monsalvatge and Joshua Hester
As more and more organizations are integrating cloud services within their infrastructure, ensuring secure cloud implementation and deployment is critical. In this blog, we explore the rise of cloud services and cloud security, and how understanding the fundamentals of cloud security can keep your digital ecosystem secure.
What is cloud security?
To understand cloud security, we first need to review cloud computing. Cloud computing is a technology that uses the Internet to access hosted services, including software, hardware, data storage, and management, from remote servers. Cloud computing is becoming more commonplace among organizations worldwide, with a majority using a hybrid or multi-cloud model via private, or public, cloud platforms. A recent poll from Gartner predicts that public cloud services would grow an additional 23% in 2021, and continue to rise in 2022.
The cloud is a virtual space composed of data centers connected across geographic boundaries, allowing organizations to stand up complex infrastructure and deploy multifaceted applications worldwide for little to no startup cost. Cloud providers offer a wide variety of service plans that can expand and contract based on the needs of the business, making maintenance costs more predictable and timely.
Naturally, cloud services need to be secure. Cloud security refers to the controls, systems, and regulations that protect data, applications, and infrastructure in an organizations’ cloud ecosystem from cyber threats. Implementing effective cloud security measures includes establishing proper authentication of users and devices, access management for data and resources, or ensuring regulatory compliance standards are up to date.
Why is it important to have a foundational knowledge of cloud security?
Cloud security is critical; every organization and its employees use cloud-based services in some capacity on a regular basis. For example, everyone’s favorite–email. Google’s Gmail or Outlook by Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) are the most popular cloud-based email tools. Or consider your company’s website, many websites are hosted and accessed from AWS, GoDaddy, or other cloud hosting providers for quicker and more secure access to data.
Cybersecurity professionals are cautious of the potential threats due to increased usage, dependence, and interconnectedness of cloud services. The speed at which IT professionals and developers can build and deploy to the cloud could be putting their client organizations and their customers at risk of unmitigated threats.
Whether it is industry governance and compliance or highly sensitive business information and intellectual property, migration to the cloud can greatly expand the attack surface beyond standard business boundaries. Shadow IT, or the unauthorized use of external IT systems, applications, or software, lays bare the reality that security policies are only as effective as their enforcement. Cyber threats or just leaks due to carelessness can have a devastating effect on business.
Why consider vendor-agnostic cloud security training?
Many different cloud providers offer their own unique benefits to organizations and industries. Recent studies have shown that 92% of enterprise IT managers use more than one cloud service provider already, and spending continues to rise to support cloud-first initiatives and migration.
But ultimately, security is security, no matter which provider(s) you choose. The major cloud providers share the same types of controls, and the same security techniques apply with some slight tweaks across cloud environments. So, it would be short-sighted to focus training efforts on just a single vendor, especially with the likelihood of migrations on the horizon. Agnostic cloud security training gives employees a better perspective of the industry and allows them to see how a different cloud provider implements security.
If an organization is already investing in vendor-specific training for teams dedicated to those providers–keep at it! The point to be made is that vendor-agnostic training can act as either a foundation to understanding cloud security principles or, alternatively, provide a complementary level of contextual understanding through the lens that an individual is already familiar with in a particular service. Lastly, teams and individuals on those teams change often. Having vendor-agnostic cloud training reduces the friction during those transitions.
Who would benefit from cloud security training?
In 2021, more and more companies depend on cloud processing and cloud storage for critical business systems. Data breaches occur, and they can be crushing to an organization both by reputation and financial impact. Here are three job titles or roles that can benefit from cloud security training, including:
Cybersecurity Analysts: This individual needs to better understand how security is applied in the cloud so they can bring new cloud resources under the same governance and compliance as the rest of the organization.
IT Project Managers: This person is in charge of the completion of a project. Security must be part of the planning and not an afterthought. Planning for security will cost much less than trying to implement it after the project has started.
IT Managers and their superiors: Security is an essential element of any planning involving IT. The recent cyberattacks on companies in recent headlines have become an ominous warning that all people within a company need to be aware of cloud security.
In addition to cloud systems migration, leaders need to consider the unique migrations of their people, too. The cybersecurity team may use a different cloud platform than the IT team. The IT support specialist looking to move upward into security would benefit from a foundational understanding of cloud security principles to ease the transition.
What does CyberVista offer for cloud security training?
CyberVista offers a Cloud Security Essentials course as an introductory program for practitioners to learn about security controls, processes, and regulations for secure cloud system deployment and implementation. This course includes 5-7 hours of on-demand video lessons and guided labs to empower teams with the right baseline knowledge and skills to maintain a secure cloud environment.
But what about vendor-specific training and certification?
Creating a holistic training solution ensures your team can apply the basics of cloud security to the specific cloud service(s) used within your organization. Vendor-specific cloud training is equally important to foundational agnostic training so that employees are better prepared as they transition between departments and roles, or as the company switches cloud providers.
For teams using a particular cloud provider or individuals looking to specialize their cloud expertise, there are multiple vendor-specific certification training courses available for top service providers, including:
Practitioners can also advance their cloudsec skills by pursuing security certifications such as CompTIA Cloud+, CompTIA CySA+, ISACA CISA, or CISSP from (ISC)².
CompTIA Cloud+ focuses on the objectives for DoD 8570.01-M specifications that focus on the security of IT infrastructure operations which would be helpful for people interested in CSSP Analyst and CSSP support roles. CompTIA CySA+ certification focuses on threats coming into the network and how to respond to them. This certification is for people interested in being threat intelligence analysts or security analysts. Both CISA and CISSP are intensive security certifications. CISA is focused on auditing, controlling, and monitoring information technology. CISSP focuses on operations security, software security, cryptography, and security design.
The Future of Cloud Security
With more and more organizations integrating cloud systems with business operations, cloud security equally should be front of mind as players continue to evolve. Leaders need to look at cloud security more holistically and deliberately–including how employees can effectively secure implementation, deployment, and management of these cloud systems–as part of their ongoing and future business strategies. When it comes to your people, let CyberVista help build the right cloud security training solution for your organization.