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Summary: Enterprise cloud security is quickly becoming a cybersecurity best practice for large organizations. In this article, we’ll explore what enterprise cloud security is, why it’s important, and the challenges organizations experience with enterprise cloud adoption. You’ll learn about common cloud security issues and the best practices you should adopt to avoid those issues. By the end of this article, you’ll feel confident choosing the right enterprise cloud solution for your organization.
What is Enterprise Cloud Security?
Enterprise cloud security refers to the technologies, policies, procedures, and controls large organizations use to protect data and IT infrastructure hosted on public, private, and distributed clouds.
Large enterprises often transition from on-premises data centers to cloud security architecture to reduce operating costs. An enterprise cloud strategy helps companies successfully move some or all data, applications, and services to the cloud and strengthen their security posture in cloud, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments.
Why Enterprise Cloud Security Is Important
As data volume increases, enterprises need a secure and scalable way to store, maintain, and readily access huge quantities of data from anywhere. Companies are also introducing SaaS applications and other cloud-native infrastructure into their security architecture. These enterprises are turning to the cloud to support their IT infrastructure and manage their data in an efficient, cost-effective, and remote-friendly way.
However, some unique security challenges arise when businesses adopt enterprise cloud services. Public and private clouds must be correctly configured to ensure an organization’s data is secure. Otherwise, companies may unintentionally put their data at risk of a breach and fail to meet crucial security or regulatory compliance standards.
Still, many enterprise leaders question, “Why is cloud security important?” IT and security professionals should inform leadership that their organization may miss out on the many benefits of moving to the cloud if they don’t have a robust security strategy to support the transition. An enterprise cloud strategy will help companies avoid the extensive fines and penalties that could result if a data breach occurs because of a misconfigured cloud environment.
7 Common Enterprise Cloud Security Challenges
Even though many enterprises have already started transitioning to the cloud, most have relied on on-premises servers and legacy software for decades, making the transition slow and arduous. Some common enterprise cloud challenges companies face include:
- Enterprises not properly shifting their traditional IT and security strategy to account for, manage, or secure their growing attack surface and expanded network perimeter
- Security gaps caused by system misconfigurations, improperly set-up integrations, and faulty API connections
- Issues with securely managing open-source technology
- Vulnerabilities due to weak identity and access management controls including unmitigated access issues or default admin credentials that haven’t been updated
- Difficulties expanding observability and designing strong security controls across cloud resources to maintain high security and regulatory compliance standards
- Challenges maintaining usage logs and audit trails for compliance reporting
- Struggles finding qualified cloud security personnel to deploy and maintain cloud environments
Real-Life Examples of Enterprise Cloud Security Issues
Considering that 81% of companies have had a cloud-related security breach within the last year, it’s clear that enterprises need to create a comprehensive cloud security strategy to eliminate security gaps.
For example, consultancy Accenture experienced two large cloud-related breaches in 2017 and 2021. In one instance, a cyber attacker exposed 137 GB of data from four unsecured AWS S3 storage buckets. In the second, the company lost 6 TB of data from a chain of ransomware attacks.
Another well-publicized cloud security incident was when social media leader Meta experienced an AWS S3 storage bucket breach that exposed more than 540 million data records. Two third-party app developers left 146 GB worth of Facebook user data such as passwords, account names, user activity, and more on unsecured Amazon cloud servers.
Enterprise Cloud Security Best Practices
Although transitioning to the cloud can be a major undertaking, businesses that adopt the following best practices can reap the benefits of enterprise cloud solutions.
Organizations should start by clearly defining and documenting a security strategy with dedicated cloud security policies and procedures. Most regulatory compliance standards that enterprises are required to meet will detail controls that can help support those policies and ensure the company’s data is secure. Documenting the entire process of moving to the cloud can reveal security gaps and help enterprises recognize vulnerabilities before they’re compromised.
While cloud technology can enable remote and distributed workers, it also expands the security perimeter beyond the scope of many enterprise IT teams. Adopting the right tools to enhance observability, track access, and monitor user behavior makes a big difference for enterprises that are introducing an enterprise cloud platform. For example, integrating IAM solutions like single sign-on or full-stack observability tools gives organizations more granular control.
How to Choose the Right Cloud Security Solution
Choosing the right enterprise cloud security solution starts with examining the cloud service providers that align with your business goals, compliance needs, and current tech stack. As an established enterprise, your organization already has IT infrastructure it depends on; your cloud security solution must integrate easily with the tools you already use.
Enterprises should also consider their entire cloud security architecture—including what combination of private, public, and edge cloud solutions are appropriate for an organization’s application hosting and data management needs—before they begin moving data to the cloud. A holistic view can help organizations develop a strategy to adopt a cloud-first model incrementally, so companies can reduce their dependence on on-premises data centers.
From there, enterprises can begin to consider which cloud security solution best supports their corporate goals while best protecting their critical resources.
How StrongDM Simplifies Enterprise Cloud Security
Effective enterprise cloud security relies on strong identity and access management to ensure only privileged users can access a corporation’s most sensitive data. StrongDM’s People-First Access Platform gives enterprises full control over which users access which resources across the entire enterprise, including in cloud environments.
With StrongDM, enterprises gain granular insight and detailed logs covering every session, query, and command across servers, databases, Kubernetes clusters, cloud environments, and applications. Centralized visibility within the StrongDM platform simplifies auditing, compliance reporting, and user monitoring to ensure that your data remains secure, no matter where it’s stored.
By combining authentication, authorization, networking, and observability into one platform, StrongDM empowers enterprises to move to the cloud with confidence.
Transitioning to the Cloud is Simple and Secure with StrongDM
Established enterprises are facing a turning point. It’s no longer practical to implement software, maintain data, and host applications solely on-premises. As a distributed workforce becomes the norm, even the most traditional enterprises must start transitioning to the cloud to enable effective, accessible workflows.
Transitioning to the cloud can be intimidating, especially with the looming threat of data breaches connected to common cloud security challenges. However, with StrongDM, companies can leverage cloud environments with peace of mind, knowing that only the right users have access to the right resources at the right time.
Ready to see how StrongDM can enable your enterprise cloud security strategy? Sign up for a 14-day trial today.
About the Author
Andrew Magnusson, Director, Global Customer Engineering, has worked in the information security industry for 20 years on tasks ranging from firewall administration to network security monitoring. His obsession with getting people access to answers led him to publish Practical Vulnerability Management with No Starch Press in 2020. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Clark University, an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Connecticut, and an M.S. in Information Management from the University of Washington. To contact Andy, visit him on LinkedIn.