How to secure your corporate cloud environment


It has become a strategic imperative for a company to safeguard its cloud environment. However, doing so effectively requires a multi-layered strategy designed to ensure data, applications, and infrastructure are comprehensively protected against current and emerging threats.

A best practice approach is vital in this regard. It all begins with a thorough risk assessment to identify potential vulnerabilities and threats. A trusted service provider like inq. leverages tools that perform periodic penetration testing against its own systems. This is done continuously to identify risks and also to conform to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework.

Once the risk assessment is completed, strong authentication and access controls need to be implemented to ensure only authorised users can access sensitive resources. Encryption of data, both in transit and at rest, is paramount to safeguarding information from unauthorised access. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) provides a great additional security step in this process.

Furthermore, continuous monitoring and logging help companies detect and respond to security incidents as quickly as possible. This is where employing automation for security tasks can help ensure consistency and efficiency in the security measures. Of course, security is not a once-off. Regular security audits and compliance checks help maintain adherence to industry standards and regulations.

Additionally, training employees on security best practices and promoting a culture of security awareness within the business is essential. We conduct monthly webinars, newsletters, and leverage inq. Academy to ensure employees go through training periodically to update themselves with the latest best practices.

Avoiding misconfigurations

Despite advancements made in cybersecurity solutions, there is always a chance that employees might misconfigure cloud components. Given the breadth and complexity of the cloud environment, this is understandable. Preventing cloud misconfigurations therefore requires a combination of technical safeguards, policies, and ongoing monitoring practices.

Firstly, implementing infrastructure as code tools ensures consistency and accuracy in cloud resource configurations, reducing the likelihood of human error. Using configuration management tools can help enforce standard configurations across environments. As an example, at inq. we use Ansible and Python to this end. We have code review processes to ensure any new configuration changes are reviewed and approved before moving into production. Additionally, we look intent-driven software. This sees us providing high-level business policies that automatically convert into configuration implementation.

Access controls also play a crucial role in preventing unauthorised changes to cloud resources. Role-based access control (RBAC) limits privileges based on job roles, reducing the risk of inadvertent misconfigurations. Additionally, companies should consider adopting least privilege principles to ensure that users have only the minimum access required to perform their tasks.

Regular security assessments and audits help identify and remediate misconfigurations quickly. Continuous monitoring tools provide real-time visibility into the cloud environment, enabling rapid detection of any deviations from the required state. Automated alerting systems can also be used to notify administrators of potential misconfigurations or security breaches in real time.

Furthermore, investing in employee training and awareness programmes educates staff about the importance of proper configuration practices and the potential risks associated with misconfigurations. Establishing clear policies and procedures for configuring and managing cloud resources helps enforce best practices and maintain a secure cloud environment. Overall, a holistic approach combining technical controls, policies, training, and monitoring is essential for preventing cloud misconfigurations effectively.

Staff training

Training is one thing, but having sufficient internal cybersecurity resources is another. Addressing cyber staffing challenges requires a comprehensive approach that includes providing competitive salaries, benefits, and flexible work arrangements to attract talent. In some instances, it can take up to six months to hire the required skills from a cybersecurity and experience perspective.

Getting someone appointed is just part of the challenge. Retaining the right skills requires focusing on developing a supportive work environment, providing ongoing training opportunities, and recognising achievements. For instance, investing in training demonstrates a commitment to employee development, which fosters a positive work culture. Employees feel valued and motivated when provided with opportunities for learning and growth, leading to higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction.

Another thing to consider is for the business to adopt automation and artificial intelligence technologies. This helps streamline tasks and enables cybersecurity professionals to focus on complex challenges. The road to securing the cloud environment of an organisation is a complex one. But it is essential given the connected landscape in which every business operates.

Naresh Thukkani, Group CTO at inq.