cloud security

Cloud security monitoring best practices

What is Cloud Security Monitoring?

Cloud security monitoring is the practice of using automated solutions to supervise physical and virtual servers to identify potential threats to cloud data. This is achieved by assessing and measuring application, data, and infrastructure behaviors. This ensures that the cloud runs smoothly and eliminates the costs associated with data breaches

Benefits of Cloud Security Monitoring

Automated cloud monitoring solutions quickly alert IT security teams about the occurrence of any anomalies and help them to identify patterns that could result from malicious behavior. This increases visibility into the cloud, which can in turn help to thwart potential security incidents and prevent shutting down of the business

What are the Top 10 Things you need to Monitor?

Due to the nature of cloud environments, they are exposed to more security risks than on-premise environments. Below are some of the cloud security risks that you should monitor:

1. Misconfigurations

Misconfigurations can result from human error or failure to set the necessary security controls in a cloud environment. These can be exploited by malicious users, thus, they pose a security risk to the cloud. For example, when you open up access to an Amazon S3 bucket or accidentally allow for unrestricted outbound access. Cloud misconfigurations can bring extreme damages. A good real-life example of this is the Capital One breach that occurred in 2019.                     

A hacker exploited a misconfigured web application firewall and broke into Capital One Server and accessed 100 million credit card applications. Capital One was fined $80 million by U.S regulators. Examples of misconfigurations that should be monitored include failure to enable the least privilege, exposing unencrypted data stores to the public, and forgetting to enable Multi-Factor Authentication(MFA).                 

2. Loss of Data

Over 60% of cloud users report that data loss is a cloud security concern. When using the cloud, you will give some controls to the cloud service provider. This means that the cloud service provider will be able to access your data. This shareability of cloud services is a security threat.                     

3. Malware

When organizations move their data to internet-connected clouds, they open themselves to cyber attacks. Both data and documents move to and from the cloud. This gives cybercriminals an opportunity to launch malware attacks like hyperjacking and hypervisor infections. Cyber criminals are also becoming savvier in their attack methods. Thus, organizations should constantly monitor their cloud environments for malware attacks. 

4. API Vulnerabilities

Cloud environments will always want to share their data with other cloud platforms and software applications. This is normally done via REST APIs, which facilitates the movement of data between different systems. Cybercriminals can take advantage of this data exchange to launch attacks while the data is in transit. They can launch Denial-of-Service (DOS) attacks to exploit any vulnerabilities in the REST API. This can give them access to sensitive organization data. Thus, companies should constantly monitor their REST APIs for any vulnerabilities. 

5. IAM 

Identity and Access Management (IAM) can be complex in a cloud environment. Large organizations may find it difficult to understand who has access to which resources. Cloud environments also experience the challenge of “zombie” SaaS accounts in the form of inactive users and inappropriate user provisioning and de-provisioning. Hybrid environments in which users are required to access a mix of on-premise and SaaS applications can introduce siloes and create security gaps. Thus, organizations should monitor for any gaps in their identity and access management process. 

6. Compliance Violations

It is easy for companies to find themselves in a state of non-compliance, and this can have serious repercussions on them. Most organizations are governed by a regulatory body, for example, HIPAA for private patient records and FERPA for confidential student documents. Failure to comply with these regulatory bodies puts a company in a lot of trouble. Thus, they should monitor for any violations and take the necessary action. Companies should also check their authentication systems to ensure that private data is only accessed by authorized parties        

7. Insider Threat

Company employees can be a security threat to the cloud. They can share anything, whether data or private credentials without raising eyebrows. Insider threats are very common today. Firms should assess how aware their employees are as far as cloud security is concerned. They should also sensitize their users constantly about the best cloud security practices. They should know the risks of exposing private data to the public.                  

8. Shared Vulnerabilities

Every party involved in a business agreement has a role to play in ensuring cloud security. From the client to the cloud service provider, and business partner, everybody should take responsibility for securing data. Every party should take precautionary measures to ensure that their sensitive data is protected. While most cloud service providers have put necessary measures for security, delicate control measures are the client and their business partners to take care of. Clients should take security measures such as protecting user passwords to ensure that their sensitive data is protected. The client should liaise with their business partners and other parties to ensure that cloud interactions are secure.         

9. Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks

Some cybercriminals intend to deny legitimate users of cloud services. They hijack information and create a foothold on the cloud service platform. The DoS attacks do not attempt to bypass the security protocols you have put in place. Instead, they deny legitimate users access to your servers. DoS attacks are also used as a smokescreen to other forms of attacks. Attackers also use them to take down security appliances such as web application firewalls. 

10. High Customer Agitation

Most cloud service critics are putting much effort to know cloud service providers with weak security mechanisms and discourage customers from using them. These critics are popular online and can create a poor impression of your firm. If customers realize that their data is not safe in your hands, they will move to your competitors and even damage the reputation of your firm. 


Challenges of Cloud Security Monitoring

The following are some of the challenges encountered by cloud security experts:

Lack of a Proper Cloud Security Strategy

Most organization migrate their data from on-premise storage to the cloud without having established a proper cloud security strategy. Before opting for cloud storage, the key stakeholders should know the following:

  • How to gain access to cloud policy configurations and changes. 
  • How to keep track of their cloud assets and who to grant access to the assets. 
  • How to approach backups and whether there is a need to keep offsite copies. 
  • Whether the cloud service provide will have access to their data and the actions they can perform on the data. 

Lack of a proper strategy will hinder an organization from fully reaping the benefits of monitoring the cloud for security.  

Lack of Context

The process of monitoring cloud security requires the analysis of logs and alerts. However, these can only be valuable to an organization if they have a competent technical team to understand these. The security teams must know what they should monitor and the actions they should take after receiving alerts. They should also know the kind of alerts that should be prioritized to prevent severe damage to cloud data. 

Alert Fatigue

Cloud security systems generate many alerts and are noisy. This can make the IT security teams lose insight into what they should focus on. Thus, cloud monitoring systems should be configured to prioritize alerts and reduce false positives

Cloud Security Monitoring Best Practices

The following are some of the best practices to help you ensure the security of your cloud environment:

Evaluate Different Cloud Service Providers

Your cloud service provider should be able to meet your needs. Consider the level of security offered by the cloud as well as data and network availability. This will help you know whether the cloud platform will meet your needs. 

Implement Strict Controls over Data

One of the best approaches to mitigating cloud security risks is by implementing strict controls over data at all endpoints. Implement solutions to analyze and scan data before it leaves the enterprise network to prevent data loss and the introduction of vulnerabilities. These solutions should also scan data before it is downloaded into the enterprise network to prevent the introduction of malware. 

Use a Layered Approach to Cloud Security

A layered approach to cloud security can give organizations visibility into their tech stack. You can use specialized cloud monitoring tools in each layer. 


Monitoring your Software Supply Chain

Packagecloud is a cloud-based service for distributing software packages to your machines and environments. Packagecloud enables users to store all of the packages that are required by their organization, regardless of OS or programming language, and repeatedly distribute them to their destination machines. Packagecloud stores all your packages in a single location, giving you complete control over the packages that you use. Instead of using public repositories, you ensure safety by always using packages stored in your controlled environment. 


Sign up for the 14 day trial to monitor your software supply chain!


Avoid Security Issues with Packagecloud 

Packagecloud can scan and validate all packages in your repository for vulnerabilities. It detects poisonings, vulnerabilities, and trojan-horse threats and checks the integrity of the packages that you use. Packagecloud also checks your packages to guarantee that nothing added inside them is vulnerable. 


Check out the Packagecloud 14 day trial to see how easy it is to distribute packages throughout your entire organization. Never worry about the scaling, consistency, or security of your packages again.

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