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Microsoft Security

What is multicloud security?

Learn about multicloud security and how it helps protect you across multiple cloud service environments.

Multicloud security defined

To understand multicloud security, it’s first key to know what multicloud and hybrid cloud services are. “Multicloud” refers to the use of cloud services from multiple cloud service providers. With multicloud, your business can oversee separate projects in different cloud environments from several cloud service providers.

Like multicloud, a “hybrid cloud” uses multiple cloud environments. However, in a hybrid cloud setup, work is distributed in a shared workload system across a public cloud, on-premises resources, and a private cloud. 
One benefit of both hybrid cloud and multicloud is their adaptability and cost effectiveness. Both allow for more flexibility when managing assets and data migrations between on-premises resources and the cloud. Additionally, businesses have the benefit of more control and security with a private cloud in a hybrid cloud environment.

“Multicloud security” is a solution that helps protect your business assets—such as private customer data and applications—against cyberattacks across your cloud environments. 

Why is multicloud security important?

Unfortunately, cyberattacks are now a common and increasingly serious threat to most businesses because of the reputational damage and financial loss they can cause. Data leaks and security breaches are also harmful to the continuity of your organization.

As more industries adopt multicloud and hybrid cloud infrastructures, they face the exposure risks that come with any unprotected cloud environment. Unprotected cloud environments often face increased exposure to data loss, unauthorized access, lack of visibility across multiple cloud environments, and increased noncompliance. A single cyberattack can negatively affect your business and lead to customer mistrust, costly repairs, and loss of revenue.

Any multicloud strategy should include a multicloud security solution to help protect against these damaging consequences. Here are four benefits of implementing multicloud security:

  1. Increased reliability. Multicloud security helps keep your business assets protected, so your data stays safer and your critical applications remain functioning optimally. With a more secure cloud, only authorized users have access to applications, which helps prevent any leaks of sensitive information.
  2. Constant security. With a more secure cloud environment, your business has round-the-clock monitoring of cyberattacks and exposure risks as well as reminders about key security updates.
  3. Reduced costs. Cyberattacks can have disastrous effects on your business, often resulting in expensive repairs and recovery. Securing your multicloud environment ensures that your business is better protected against the costly aftermath of cyberthreats.
  4. Centralized visibility. With a multicloud security solution, your business manages the security of your cloud environments from one location. Multicloud security allows you to view the health of your applications, assess any data or application exposure risks, and manage user access.

Key considerations for multicloud security

Cloud environments have some unique challenges. With multicloud, the lack of visibility across cloud environments can make it challenging for your organization to monitor the health of its cloud infrastructures. 
Therefore, when helping secure your cloud environments, consider the following:

  • The security posture of your cloud resources. It’s important to choose the most secure locations for your data, whether that be on premises or in the cloud. In addition, developing a business continuity and disaster recovery plan and using data loss prevention tools are essential to helping secure your cloud.
  • How to best protect cloud and hybrid workloads against threats. To ensure that your business has the best visibility of what’s happening in your cloud environments, use cloud security solutions that offer investigation, reporting, and threat detection, as well as those that help prevent cloud security threats.
  • Authentication. Develop a strategy that allows your business to centralize policies for authentication and authorization. That way, no sole cloud service provider has completely different authentication and authorization protocols.
  • Updates. Ensure that software updates are automated for individual cloud service providers to help avoid weak spots that cybercriminals can exploit.
  • Native security support. Security platforms should reduce adoption resistance, not ask you to perform lengthy preparations for protection.
  • Centralized visibility. Avoid a setup that requires you to jump back and forth between platforms to get a full picture of what’s going on in your multicloud—this will save time and reduce frustration.

How to manage multicloud security

Organizations are challenged by compliance obstacles and the lack of visibility across their cloud environments. Therefore, a centralized cloud security tool is essential to managing multicloud and hybrid cloud environments.

With a multicloud management platform, your organization can manage multicloud environments just like it would a single cloud environment. This can offer transparency and better control across cloud resources. In addition, your business receives useful analytics and AI functions from multicloud management solutions. 

When using a multicloud management platform, follow these steps:

  1. Secure your multicloud product development from the first piece of code.
  2. Help protect the cloud service availability with network security.
  3. Manage cloud infrastructure permissions and access for users.
  4. Use Cloud Security Posture Management to monitor your cloud’s posture and proactively remediate risks.
  5. During runtime, use cloud workload protection.

Types of multicloud security threats

In today’s complex world of cyberthreats, many types of multicloud security threats exist. Here are a few common situations and obstacles to consider when forming a multicloud security plan:

  • Lack of unified management and governance
  • Silos, staffing constraints, and training gaps
  • Protecting workloads regardless of where they’re housed
  • Lack of interoperability
  • Misconfigurations or configuration drifts
  • Lack of visibility across environments
  • Maintaining consistent access controls
  • Shadow IT
  • Developing and operating secure apps

Multicloud security best practices

Fortunately, organizations can prevent many multicloud security threats from ever surfacing by forming a security plan and adhering to some best practices:

  • Know your enemy. By learning the most common ways that cybercriminals attempt to gain access to your cloud, you’ll be able to proactively select the security solutions that best protect your organization from ever being breached. 
  • Automate processes whenever possible. When you turn on options for automatic updates, you’ll have one less thing to think about and gain peace of mind knowing you have the latest patches in place. 
  • Combine SIEM with XDR to automate workload protection. Get integrated threat protection across your devices, identities, apps, email, data, and cloud workloads.
  • Prioritize consistency. As much as you’re able, make uniform security decisions and settings across the cloud. Similarly, avoid one-off security decisions for specific situations that you’ll need to track and manage differently going forward. This treats your multicloud as a cohesive ecosystem rather than one with many different rules and settings to remember and follow—which increases the risk of human error.
  • Use single-point-of-control management. In this management style, your cloud engineers have the benefit of a sole control panel from which they can more easily oversee the security settings for your multicloud.
  • Enable least privilege access. Automate least privilege policy enforcement consistently in your entire multicloud infrastructure to get a multidimensional view of your risk by identities, permissions, and resources.
  • Implement cloud security posture management (CPSM) recommendations. Use a CSPM solution to assess and strengthen the security configuration of your cloud resources.
  • Reduce network redundancy. The more places you have repeated information and resources, the more places cybercriminals have a chance at a breach.
  • Integrate security into DevOps. Use a tool, such as GitHub Advanced Security, to create secure apps by integrating directly into the developer workflow. You’ll be able to address security risks earlier, automate vulnerability fixes, and enforce policies as code.

How to choose a multicloud security solution

Ideally, a multicloud security solution will use a combination of measures to greatly reduce the likelihood that your cloud environment is compromised, such as: 

  • Finding weak spots across your cloud configuration.
  • Implementing comprehensive multicloud support that covers all your cloud environments.
  • Using thorough workload protection that helps safeguard all your different workloads.
  • Deploying security intelligence that uses external attack surface management.
  • Choosing native cloud security support.
  • Creating centralized visibility across your environments.
  • Having a plan in place to respond to threats in a timely manner.
  • Determining what your false positive threat rate is.
  • Ensuring you have compliance standards support.

For example, Microsoft Defender for Cloud is a multicloud security solution that works by:

  • Assessing and strengthening the security configuration of your cloud resources.
  • Managing compliance against critical industry and regulatory standards.
  • Enabling threat protection for workloads running in Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud Platform—as well as for workloads that run on premises.
  • Detecting vulnerabilities to help protect your multicloud and hybrid workloads against malicious attacks.

Although managing a more secure multicloud may initially seem overwhelming with many moving parts, the good news is that powerful solutions continue to evolve alongside any new malicious motives.

Learn more about Microsoft Security

Cloud security

Get comprehensive protection for your multicloud apps and resources.

Microsoft Defender for Cloud

Help protect your multicloud and hybrid environments.

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps

Identify and combat cyberthreats across your cloud services.

Cloud access security broker

Get the visibility, data control, and analytics necessary to fight cyberthreats.

Frequently asked questions

  • Multicloud security helps keep your organization safer from cybercriminals who attempt to breach your cloud. Having a strong multicloud security solution in place can prevent data breaches, financial loss, and customer mistrust.

  • Without a proper security solution, the multicloud is more vulnerable than a single cloud environment simply because multicloud has more pathways for malicious entry.

  • A multicloud security strategy is a comprehensive plan that factors in all your organization’s cloud components with the goal of keeping them as protected as possible.

  • Multicloud security tools are the specific solutions used in a multicloud security strategy to prevent unauthorized access to your organization’s cloud environment. For example, Microsoft Defender for Cloud is a specific multicloud security tool.

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