30Mar 2020

How to Build Your Secure Cloud Architecture? Things to Consider and Follow

Previously, the main question about migrating to the cloud services for storage of organization data was whether the facility was secure. As businesses started adopting the new data storage solutions, the facility gained the trust of many business owners. Nevertheless, some people still lack confidence with their data stored in the cloud and prefer having their data kept in on-premises data solutions. Whether the data is kept in on-premises data centers or cloud services, its security is dependent on the owner.

Cloud service providers are responsible for offering protection to data inside the public cloud while data owners are responsible for security within the cloud. In a nutshell, the security of a public cloud is provided by the cloud service provider while the institution (data owner) offers protection within the system. This phenomenon of responsibility sharing is referred to as a shared responsibility model.

The cloud service provider shoulders the responsibility of different cloud aspects such as services and infrastructure while the data owner ensures the security of their operating system and platforms used. Irrespective of how data owners store their data, whether in public cloud services or in on-premise centers, they must invest in protecting it against potential hacking, and the architecture must be protected as well. Besides on-premise systems being regarded as secure data storage solutions, the architecture of the public cloud is easier to offer security.

The shared responsibility model enables the formation of a secure cloud architecture compared to on-premise storage systems. In this model, the owner of the data is needed to obtain the necessary equipment and procedures for protecting the architecture. They are as well entitled to protect the infrastructure and can physically gain access to cloud storage. Moreover, the data owner is allowed to scale the infrastructure depending on their business requirements. They can as well share the host of the application with different users.

Security Within the Public Cloud

Infrastructure Service Security

As above-mentioned, the shared responsibility model requires the cloud provider to shoulder cloud aspects such as services, security, and the infrastructure whereas the data owner is shouldered with the security of their OS, data and the platform.

To build a secure infrastructure, the configuration of infrastructure components is executed by the service provider and avails various services and features to users. After this is completed, the cloud services user is allowed to enable security from their end. Specifically, Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers the data owner the authority of deciding which users should be permitted to access particular services. They implement this by applying the identity and access management (IAM) service that assists them to handle users and authorizations inside both the Azure cloud and the Google cloud.

The various services offered within the cloud are infrastructure services, abstracted services, and container services. Each group of services within the cloud comes with a shared responsibility model to offer them security. When some of the services are used to provide full protection it will cause a greater responsibility for the data owner within the shared responsibility model whereas the cloud service provider is left even greater responsibility if the other services are used.

Types of Services

Infrastructure Service Security

If a user of the cloud services prefers virtual machine applications within the facility, it will be associated with infrastructure service. For their data to stay protected within these virtual machine services, Amazon Web Services is tasked with protecting the facilities, the physical hardware, the network infrastructure as well as the virtualization architecture. The user is entitled to the protection of the Amazon Machine Images (AMIs), the application, the information at rest and in transit, regulations, credentials, firewall instructions, system updates, as well as configuration. It implies that the cloud user has a greater portion of responsibility for infrastructure service security.

Container Service Security

Under this category, different platform layer aspects are not manageable or accessible. It is valid for services such as the Azure SQL database as well as Amazon RDS. In this type of service, the cloud service provider manages all the system updates, the OS, and security patches. On the other hand, the business’ responsibility is limited.

Abstracted Service Security

Under this category, services such as database and high-level storage as well as messages are handled. This category involves abstraction of services on a platform layer. The business is granted the authority of creating and running applications on the system. They can access the endpoints of these services with the assistance of the Application programming interface (API) and efficiently gain access and handle service elements that the endpoints are developed on. In order to protect the abstracted services, users of cloud services apply a variety of security applications offered by the provider.

Best Practices of Cloud Security and Checklist to Follow

Best Practices of Cloud Security and Checklist to Follow

Some of the cloud security best practices include:

  • Management of identity and access
  • Detective controls
  • Protection of infrastructure
  • Protection of data
  • Incident response

The management of identity and access is paramount in cloud architectures as it makes sure only the authenticated persons are permitted to gain access to cloud services.

Detective control is very essential to sign up and detect security issues that encompass automatic notifications founded on predefined conditions.

Protection of the infrastructure consists of control techniques like in-depth defenses as well as multi-factor authentication that are required to comply with the best practices and regulations.

Cloud services users must be able to understand the various applications, the network as well as the system security. Consequently, due diligence is needed throughout the systems life cycle: planning, developing, operating, and decommissioning stages.

During planning, the user starts by deciding what system they want their cloud built on. In the planning stage, the cloud adoption framework is applied in the identification of applications and cloud service providers. After the adoption of this framework, they sensitize their workers of the chosen service and infrastructure.

During the development and deployment stage, the user contracts the service of deployment experts that understands the Cloud Platform System (CPS) – a system that offers significant guidance needed for the creation of cloud applications. So, in case of application migration to the system, CPS determines the specific modifications the app requires.

During the operation stage, the security aspect comes in. the architecture is taken as the source code and a source code control system is used to manage it.

In some instances, circumstances may lead to decommissioning of the cloud-deployed system. For instance, in the instance where the CPS features price increase, the entire system becomes uneconomical to use, hence decommissioning is necessary.

Data protection is the last one. The security of cloud infrastructures is not necessarily ensured by putting strict access control but ensuring the data is protected. In data protection, three main issues must be addressed:

  • The user must secure their information from unauthorized access.
  • They must keep consistent continued access to significant information even when there is a failure in the system. This is done by encrypting the data using cloud encryption features. Effective encryption requires constant management of encryption keys.
  • They must prevent unwanted disclosure of deleted information. Deleting data from the cloud does not imply it has gone completely; a copy of the data is replicated for retrieval in case of accidental deletion.

Prevention and Inspection of Security Risks and Vulnerabilities

Prevention and Inspection of Security Risks and Vulnerabilities

Cloud service providers do not allow users to conduct architecture practices such as penetration testing, port scanning, and other checks without authenticating them, cloud users should consistently conduct vulnerability tests of their architecture.

A simple method of finding and fixing vulnerabilities can be done by building an image of the workflow, performing tests within the test environment after the cloud provider has approved it. Compared to on-premises data centers, patching in cloud services is easier as it only requires the user to apply a single template and the whole infrastructure is treated. The logs can be monitored and reviewed to offer insights about the security state of the architecture, and using this information, the user can respond and prevent dire consequences.

The AWS cloud has features that can assist in performing the above-mentioned tasks. For instance, the AWS CloudTrail is meant to record the AWS API calls, a detailed inventory of the AWS resources is provided by the AWS Config, and the AWS resources service is monitored by the Amazon CloudWatch.

CloudCheckr Self-Advertisement

CloudCheckr Self-Advertisement

Third-party tools are included to govern the whole cloud. A number of these tools are certified by AWS security Competency status, are reputable, and have a substantiated track record in handling cloud-related tasks. Complying with the standards must be accompanied by some security necessities, thus selecting a cloud management tool assists in the validation process.

The CloudCheckr refers to the type of platform that supports unified governance of the cloud within the whole cloud environment and offers insights to the cloud service users on how to manage their security and compliance. This platform also enables the cloud users to reduce costs and conduct cloud automation of the cloud in AWS or Azure. Moreover, CloudCheckr gives cloud users automatic notifications and reports that assist them to detect vulnerabilities and threats.

Conclusion

Generally, data is considered safe and secure when cloud storage solutions are used rather than on-premise data centers. Notwithstanding, the security of data in these storage solutions is only guaranteed if the systems are continually improved to minimize or eliminate the susceptibility of threats. This implies that the investment of the security of the infrastructure is done repeatedly. In any type of organization, data is a very vital resource and must be a priority. Although protecting data in the cloud might not be an easy process, the integrity of data must be ensured.

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Rithesh Raghavan

Rithesh Raghavan

Rithesh Raghavan, Co-Founder, and Director at Acodez IT Solutions, who has a rich experience of 16+ years in IT & Digital Marketing. Between his busy schedule, whenever he finds the time he writes up his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the world of IT and software development. All thanks to his master brain behind the gleaming success of Acodez.

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