Managing Your Way to Hybrid Cloud Security

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As companies race to the cloud to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and foster flexibility and agility, they are creating a patchwork of different cybersecurity protocols and policies, which compounds management challenges and opens doors to new risks.

Private cloud data stored on-premises and accessed over a private IT network are potentially vulnerable to data leaks or man-in-the-middle attacks. Hybrid cloud reduces the risk of cybersecurity threats, but care must be given to managing the security of the overall IT architecture when there is a mix of public and private cloud deployments, says Scott Schober (@ScottBVS), president and CEO of Berkeley Varitronics Systems Inc.

Hybrid cloud deployments can quickly transform into a multiheaded monster that places an increasing burden on internal security teams, already overstretched as they try to balance working with multiple cloud players while battling sophisticated criminal enterprises and managing remote employees, says Steve Prentice (@StevenPrentice), a technology integration specialist. In addition, security organizations are struggling to stay abreast of a continuously changing set of requirements governing scalability, compliance, and the confidentiality of stored data.

“The modern post-COVID company is a million-armed octopus in thousands of locations, and every arm is a digital access point that can be compromised by script kiddies, social hackers, professional criminal hacking organizations, or even nation-state actors,” says John Koetsler (@johnkoetsier), CEO of SSMRT. “Only by managing security in all those million access points can a company ensure safety … and avoid becoming another ransomware story on national news.”

The complexities introduced by the growing number of mergers and acquisitions complicate the already complex cybersecurity landscape and raise the stakes for companies joining forces in pursuit of growth and innovation. “The ability to have flexibility and interoperability across a patchwork quilt of inherited and existing storage and security platforms will be key to the success of complex technology-driven enterprises,” notes Frank Cutitta (@fcutitta), CEO and founder of HealthTech Decisions Lab.

The recent spate of ransomware attacks—most notably the SolarWinds hack—has cast the spotlight on the high-stakes dangers surrounding cybersecurity and highlighted the need for enterprises to reevaluate their hybrid cloud security posture.

Maturing cloud management platforms and improvements in AI and analytics for back-end reporting provide enterprises with the means to gain consistent telemetry and views across cloud providers and private clouds, says Will Kelly (@willkelly), technical marketing manager for a container security startup. But ongoing budget shortfalls and staffing challenges remain key hurdles, he adds.

Managed Services Mitigate Security Risks

Given the volatility of the landscape, having an external provider that is responsible for keeping up with the changes and managing the consistency of security across platforms is key. “An as-a-service management provider is as vital to an organization’s hybrid cloud presence as GPS and air traffic control are to an airline,” says Prentice. “They not only ensure consistency of security across platforms but also free up a company’s internal security team to address more-localized needs, thus doubling the security benefit.”

Kim Stevenson (@Kimsstevenson), SVP & general manager, Foundational Data, NetApp Inc., concurs. “Letting the experts do the work for you is the best way to succeed in this new world; managed services offer many options to help migrate, modernize, transform, and mitigate risks.”

Many businesses flocking to cloud services don’t even recognize the potential for a cloud fragmentation problem. Left unchecked, cloud applications deployed as standalone silos breed administrative, integration, and especially security challenges—all issues that can be moderated, even mitigated, with the right hybrid cloud managed service. For example, following consistent best practices such as encrypting data in transit and at rest, utilizing identity and access management (IAM) capabilities, and using Secure Shell Protocol (SSH) network protocols for communications between unsecured network connections can curtail a lot of the management headaches and security risks, adds BVS’s Schober.

“Managed hybrid cloud can help reduce or eliminate redundant information stored in individual silos and provide organizations with better control over their security profile through encryption, automation, access control, orchestration, and endpoint security, to name a few,” says Gene De Libero (@GeneDeLibero), chief strategy officer at GeekHive.

Identity and authentication are critical to the modern security posture, whether implemented internally or via a managed services provider. “Implementing a solution like Azure AD hybrid identity with SSO or Federation provides a mechanism to securely share credentials across on-premises and cloud-based environments with minimal effort,” says cybersecurity leader Dave Hatter (@DaveHatter).

Consistency Is Key

Beyond specific capabilities, consistency is the name of the game when it comes to securing hybrid platforms. Only when a managed hybrid cloud service delivers security policy consistency in areas such as access management and intrusion monitoring can an organization benefit from the agility and versatility of such infrastructure, notes Isaac Sacolick (@nyike), president of StarCIO, best-selling author, and digital transformation influencer.

“In order to fully reap the benefits of flexibility and choice that hybrid environments bring, it is essential that organizations have a sound managing strategy across all platforms,” says Dominique West (@domyboo), a cybersecurity professional. “The goal is to have consistent security, and that begins with having a hybrid cloud management solution to simplify your processes.”

A managed hybrid cloud service provides all the benefits, lessons learned, and best practices gleaned from a multitude of customers—a breadth of expertise and knowledge impossible to replicate on your own. In addition, many managed services abstract the implementation details but elevate the level of security features available to an organization—another instance of getting more security bang for the buck.

“Security is hard and expensive, but leveraging the work of cloud providers to aggregate those concerns and solve for them can be magic to those companies that use it,” says Noelle Silver (@NoelleSilver_), founder of AILI.

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