With several different types of cloud computing models to keep track of today, knowing the specifics of each, where they intersect, and how to keep them safer from cybercriminals can be, at best, confusing and, at worst, overwhelming. Read on for a simplified breakdown of hybrid cloud security, including common challenges, best practices, and safeguards.
What’s a hybrid cloud?
A hybrid cloud is a computing environment that combines the features of a private cloud and a public cloud. In a private cloud, services are offered to select people (rather than the general public) over the internet or through a private internal network. In a public cloud, services are offered over the public internet to anyone who wants to purchase them. Because a hybrid cloud uses a mix of cloud computing environments, it appeals to organizations for its versatility—people can customize their private cloud for specific business needs while also using a public cloud for more straightforward functions, which often saves time and money.
What’s hybrid cloud security?
Hybrid cloud security is the protection of data, devices, and infrastructure across a mix of cloud computing environments, such as a public or private cloud. Maintaining strong hybrid cloud security helps safeguard against various threats—for example, security breaches and data leaks.
Public and private cloud environments
The most common type of public cloud platform is software as a service (SaaS), which companies and individuals access from a third-party provider to use cloud-based apps over the internet (for example, web-based email). Public cloud services may be free or sold on demand, allowing customers to pay only per usage for the CPU cycles, storage, or bandwidth that they use.
The primary benefit of public clouds is their cost savings—companies can avoid the expenses associated with purchasing, managing, and maintaining on-premises hardware and application infrastructure, because the cloud service provider covers those costs. Another benefit is how quickly public clouds can be set up, given that the provider does the work behind the scenes to make a product easy to use and almost infinitely scalable platform appeal to customers.
One drawback of public clouds is possible security threats. Even though third-party cloud providers can be just as secure as a private cloud, customers must trust that providers are using the most up-to-date security methods, such as threat and vulnerability monitoring and management.
Some examples of a private cloud include:
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) models, which companies use for essential compute, storage, and networking resources on demand.
- Platform as a service (PaaS) models, which supply companies with an on-demand environment for developing, testing, delivering, and managing software applications (for example, Microsoft Azure).
The primary benefit of a private cloud is a company’s ability to customize the platform to their specific needs and implement the security systems that they prefer. However, this means that private clouds tend to be more time-consuming for organizations to set up and manage.
Hybrid cloud security challenges
Unfortunately, the greatest strength of a cloud service—its accessibility from nearly anywhere with an internet connection—is also its greatest vulnerability. Increasingly, companies are making news about security breaches or data leaks affecting thousands, or even millions, of people. One reason for this is because the complex nature of hybrid cloud environments makes them ideal targets to exploit if not properly set up and monitored. Often cybercriminals use a form of malware to break into or disrupt an organization’s network.
Here are a few common security challenges in the hybrid cloud:
- Hyperjacking via rootkit. Rootkits work by intercepting and changing standard operating system processes to alter the information that a device reports about itself. In a hyperjacking, the goal is to take control of the hypervisor.
- Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. This type of attack floods a website with traffic, resulting in poor site functionality or knocking it offline completely.
- Migration exploits. When an organization is in the process of migrating data to the cloud, cybercriminals with this knowledge may create false migrations or migrate resources somewhere that they control.
Hybrid cloud security solutions and best practices
Fortunately, security experts are continually building products and services to help keep organizations protected, even as new threats evolve. Depending on your organization’s specific needs, consider using these hybrid cloud security best practices to defend against threats:
- Install appropriate cloud security solutions and cloud security monitoring tools. Employ AI and automation tools to respond to threats quickly and effectively in real time.
- Adopt a Zero Trust model. The principles of Zero Trust, such as adopting multifactor authentication, significantly strengthen your organization’s defense against attacks.
- Hold regular security trainings for employees. A one-time training from years ago simply won’t hold up against evolving cyberthreats. Help ensure that the employees at your organization are helping, not hindering, your hybrid cloud security goals by providing them with ongoing trainings.
Why is hybrid cloud security important?
Although cybersecurity has been a growing concern for decades, organizations found themselves in particular need of hybrid cloud security solutions once the COVID-19 pandemic began and transformed the way millions of people work worldwide. With so many people suddenly working from home, companies became more exposed to cyberthreats through vulnerabilities such as people’s home networks, which usually aren’t as protected as in-office network connections.
Even as workers return to physical offices, the cost savings and other benefits that organizations discovered through remote work have led some to permanently shift to hybrid work or flexible work models. However, with this flexibility remains the hybrid cloud security concerns—cybercriminals continue to become more sophisticated in the ways that they breach networks and steal sensitive information using malware and ransomware. This underscores how important hybrid cloud security is. Accordingly, provide your employees with strong security solutions and adopt hybrid security monitoring to help guard against attacks that could lead to financial loss, customer mistrust, and many hours of IT .