De-mystifying Security Series: 4 Key Cornerstone Elements of Cloud Security
Cloud security is a catch-all term to describe any and all mechanisms used to protect data, applications and resources stored in hosted platforms like Microsoft Azure and VMware Cloud. Given that businesses are moving an increasing amount of their workload into the cloud, securing those systems has become a strategic priority.
APIs are a cornerstone of rapid application development, particularly within the new data-driven business environment. However, insecure cloud APIs represent a major security risk, providing direct access to your systems and data.
To help reduce these risks, cloud deployments typically make use of API Security Gateways. API security gateways provide three layers of protection for your cloud-based systems:
- Centralized identity management to validate API users’ identity and permissions;
- Real-time, proactive monitoring to identify and block malicious traffic; and
- Seamless integration with cloud and on-premises infrastructure to properly secure each API connection.
Importantly, API security gateways protect at the data, application and user levels.
In recognition of the increased importance of security, DevSecOps extends and enhances the DevOps methodology. As well as helping to achieve greater efficiency and productivity, DevSecOps incorporates security principles in every part of the development cycle.
DevSecOps engineers operate within the development ecosystem to continuously monitor, attack and determine defects before non-cooperative attackers might discover them. These insights are fed back to the development team who will implement recommendations to build constantly improving, more secure applications.
Security as Code
Security as Code is an essential aspect of managing security to the DevSecOps methodology. At the most basic level, Security as Code involves finding the most cost-effective and speedy ways to map out how changes to code and infrastructure are made, and where to add security checks and tests and gates into the development process.
Security as Code also extends the concept of continuous delivery, again identifying a framework for testing the security of new code during the development and testing phases of a project. These processes are then automated to speed up the testing process, and to remove potential for human error that would otherwise allow bugs and vulnerabilities to make it into your production code.
Identity management usually relates to the authentication methods you use to control access to cloud-based systems. In most cases this will be via username and password combinations, preferably with two-factor authentication to make it even harder for hackers to break into the system, or to steal credentials.
Depending on your on-site identity management system, it should be possible to unify on-premise and cloud systems. This is particularly true of Microsoft Azure which can be configured to apply the same credentials and permissions across on-line and “off-line” user information stores through Active Directory services.
Configuration Management is a process for maintaining system configuration throughout its entire lifecycle. Source control is used to manage the deployment of configuration files, packages, services and user configurations to create a repeatable process; all the configuration information and resources you need are readily available for rebuilding an identical system.
Because the entire configuration is recorded and readily available, configuration management forms the foundation of automated system deployment. Equally important is the fact that the configuration management database contains a full version history, allowing you to roll-back in the event of a system configuration issue.
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