As more and more organizations migrate their data to the cloud, IT teams discover a new world of useful cloud apps, from cloud-supporting hardware to new software and services that promise to make business processes easy and efficient. However, every cloud app you add to your arsenal needs its own protection, even if the data itself is locked up tight.
Do you know how many cloud services your organization uses? Venture capital firm KPCB set out to explore this data in a section of their yearly KP Internet Trends report. Amidst online advertising, media, and healthcare trends, they discuss the average cloud-enabled app use in companies today. Statistics are broken into categories. Finance/accounting, for example, employs an average of “60 cloud services per enterprise.” HR employs an average of "90 cloud services per enterprise," 96% of which “are not enterprise ready.”
As for use across an entire business? KPCB estimates there are between 893 and 1,206 cloud apps per total organization.
This sheer number of cloud services used in an organization introduces another concern: shadow IT. Moving to the cloud can inspire employees or departments to use software and services that aren’t always approved by the usual channels beforehand. Employees can also use personal technology at work “or niche technology that meets the unique needs of a particular business division and is supposed by a third-party service provider or in-house groups, instead of by corporate IT,” according to TechTarget’s definition of shadow IT. Once these tools (including Dropbox, Google Docs, or instant messaging services) are implemented, it’s not always easy to root them out—but it doesn’t have to be hard to secure them, either.
Whether you’re using IT approved apps or have shadow apps hiding in the corners, always make sure they’re protected and enterprise ready. Not sure where to start? Here are four understated tool categories you should use for cloud app security, as well as a few matching products or services that address each one.
A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack happens when a malicious user or group floods a service with traffic from multiple sources, intending to cripple the business and make it unusable for an extended period of time. When the service goes down, people can’t access it. The situation becomes a complete nightmare for everyone involved.
DDoS attacks can be devastating to an organization’s bottom line. A single successful attack can cost upwards of $2.5 million, and DDoS disruption alone can cost around $100,000 an hour in lost revenue. What’s worse, the number of DDoS attacks per year only continues to rise, with Neustar reporting that a whopping 84% of companies have experienced an attack in the last year, compared to 73% in 2016.
It’s imperative for businesses to take DDoS attacks seriously and implement tools that will thwart their efforts. Here are a couple DDoS protection tools you can use to secure your cloud apps:
Amazon Web Services offers AWS Shield, “a managed Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection service that safeguards web applications running on AWS.” AWS Shield works with Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon CloudFront, and Amazon Route 53 to detect DDoS attacks and provide automatic mitigation whenever needed.
Do you currently use AWS as your cloud services platform? According to their website, “all AWS customers benefit from the automatic protections of AWS Shield Standard,” which protects your applications from network and transport layer attacks.
Microsoft Azure offers aiProtect Denial of Service Protection, a service that “automates the identification and mitigation of Denial of Service (DoS & DDOS) attacks, while providing detailed reporting necessary to end the attack.” aiProtect can protect your cloud applications by reviewing incoming traffic requests and blocking ones that are suspicious, giving you time to act before the attack takes down your network.
CASB tools give you the power to retain control of your cloud apps while simultaneously monitoring them for threats and vulnerabilities. TechTarget’s definition of CASB states, “CASBs use auto-discovery to identify cloud applications in use and identify high-risk applications, high risk users and other key risk factors,” which is a great asset for organizations that have shadow apps.
Cloud Access Security Broker services act between an organization and the cloud to make sure all network traffic abides by set security policies. They can provide valuable insights into where data is going, what cloud apps the business uses, what actions users and accounts are taking in their daily work environment, what threats exist in the infrastructure, and more.
Knowing what apps your business uses and what threats they may pose is also an important part of protecting your data, and your cloud processes. Here are a couple CASB tools you can use to secure your cloud apps:
CipherCloud is a CASB solution that helps “monitor and rate over 15,000 cloud applications, and [the] intuitive drill-down dashboard lets you identify all clouds and block risky apps.” With a tool like CipherCloud implemented, you can assess business risks and vulnerabilities, then address them using available policy actions (notify, quarantine, user self-remediation, etc) without interrupting regular business processes.
Skyhigh is another popular CASB platform you can implement on a single cross-cloud platform to “gain visibility into cloud usage and risks, meet compliance requirements, enforce security policies, and detect and respond to potential threats.” It offers a variety of key features for governance, threat protection, compliance, and security throughout their solutions and products.
Are you worried about losing control of your data? Most people are. When you move your data to the cloud instead of having it in your internal network, it’s hard to imagine letting go of your assets—which is why we suggest using a data loss prevention tool. A DLP tool helps you keep control of your data during migration, protects it while it’s at rest in the cloud, and can alert you to any data placed in the cloud that shouldn’t be there.
Knowing exactly where your data is and if it’s vulnerable or not can give back some of the control you need and let you rest easy at night. Here are a couple DLP tools you can use to secure your cloud apps:
McAfee Total Protection for Data Loss Prevention “safeguards intellectual property and ensures compliance by protecting sensitive data wherever it lives.” It gives you a detailed look at where your data is being used, allows you to pinpoint and address any leaked data you might have, and uses “flexible file tagging to set up time-saving data security policies based on location and application types.”
Digital Guardian’s Data Loss Prevention solution works to protect your assets by tagging sensitive data as classified whenever a user requests it. If the user then attempts to send the data outside of the network or to the cloud, the solution blocks the transmission. Digital Guardian for Data Loss Prevention also automates classification of sensitive data and stops leaks without affecting employee productivity.
Backing up company data is often listed as a security best practice, and it’s very true: you should have a plan in place for creating frequent cloud backups. But are you storing your backups off-site, or is everything kept in one place or accessible from the same account?
Code Spaces, a company that once offered source code management tools to developers, met a dismal end at the hands of a hacker, in part because their backups were controlled from the same control panel as their data. “An attacker gained access to the company’s AWS control panel and demanded money in exchange for releasing control back to Code Spaces,” writes Paul Venezia, Senior Contributing Editor at InfoWorld. “Code Spaces had replicated services and backups but those were all apparently controllable from the same panel and, thus, were summarily destroyed [when they tried to take back control].”
Implementing a tool that places your cloud backups off-site is a simple way to save your organization a lot of potential heartache. It may cost time and resources to put every piece in place, but you’ll be two steps ahead of any security disasters you face in the future, as your data will be protected.
Sadly, Code Spaces didn’t have a chance without off-site backups. But you can. Here are a couple backup tools you can use to secure your cloud apps:
Microsoft Azure’s BaaS solution, Azure Backup, protects your data wherever it’s at rest (the cloud, your data center, your office locations) by providing six offsite backup targets of your applications stored in two different Azure datacenters. Azure Backup can also integrate with Azure Site Recovery, which orchestrates protection and recovery of private clouds.
Asigra Cloud Backup is a cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery service that can help you control the data you’ve entrusted to SaaS and PaaS providers. It “enables you to manage the recoverability of cloud-based application data in multiple ways,” including backing up your cloud environment to the data centers of your choosing, deploying backup policies to cloud app users for consistent protection, and scheduling backup activities from a single interface.
These four tool categories can absolutely kickstart your cloud app protection, but they’re not exhaustive. Is there a tool you use that we missed in this post? Leave it in the comments below!