While both enterprises and midmarket businesses face cloud security threats, the scale, complexity, and implications of these threats differ substantially and are more potent for enterprise-level organizations. Research has consistently shown that the average cost of a data breach is higher for larger organizations. This is due to the sheer volume of records that can be compromised and the complexity of the IT environments in larger enterprises. Let’s take a deeper look into the unique cloud security challenges faced by enterprises as compared to midmarket businesses and also explore actionable ways to ensure robust cloud security for enterprise organizations.
Cloud security challenges: Enterprises vs. midmarket organizations
Enterprise organizations operate on a large or global scale, requiring sophisticated IT infrastructures across multiple cloud environments. In contrast, midmarket businesses have limited resources and simpler infrastructures. These differences lead to varied challenges in cloud-based security for each.
The table below compares just some of the differences in the challenges that enterprise organizations face compared to midsize organizations:
|Challenges||Enterprise organizations||Midsize organizations|
- Must navigate and secure multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments
- Deploy resources and operate applications on multiple cloud platforms
- Need for intricate, expansive security strategies and has a larger attack surface
- Typically have a simpler infrastructure
- May not deal with the complexities of multi-cloud environments to the same extent
|Scale and complexity|
- Manage countless applications and a significant number of users
- Potential for misconfigurations or human errors is more impactful and challenging to identify
- Track, maintain, and deploy configurations across multiple applications and user roles
- Leverage simplified and standardized security protocols due to smaller infrastructure
- Predictable security strategies can be vulnerable to threats
- Limited resources may prevent investment in tools and practices to strengthen cloud security
- Subject to industry-specific regulations, especially in sectors like finance and healthcare
- Need to adhere to stringent standards like PCI DSS and HIPAA
- Might face less stringent requirements compared to massive enterprises
- Still subject to regulations, and any misstep can have substantial repercussions
- Data breaches can result in enormous financial and reputational damages
- Entrusted with a large amount of corporate and customer data
- If publicly listed, held to more rigorous standards
- Responsible for high volumes of sensitive data, but may not be held to the same rigorous standards as larger, publicly listed companies
- High-value targets for sophisticated cyberattacks, including persistent threats and zero-day exploits
- More likely to be the target of advanced persistent threats (APTs) aiming for high-value targets
- Face substantial security challenges but may not be targeted by advanced threats to the same extent as larger enterprises
- The scale of consequences for failing to overcome challenges might be different
Midsize companies, of course, also face substantial security challenges. However, it’s clear that enterprise organizations are more susceptible to cloud security threats, and the consequences for failing to overcome challenges are on an entirely different scale.
Cloud enterprise security checklist
The news isn’t all bad, though. There are simple steps that greatly minimize risk: The following section provides a cloud security checklist with actionable items that defend against common enterprise cloud security pitfalls.
Cloud provider evaluation
Choosing the right cloud provider is an essential first step to ensuring strong cloud security. To make an informed decision, assess the security measures offered by potential cloud service providers. Take a deep dive into their security protocols to make sure they align with your needs, and verify compliance with relevant industry regulations. For example, if you're in healthcare, check that the provider meets HIPAA standards.
It's also important to understand the shared responsibility model. This model outlines the security obligations between the cloud service provider and the customer. While providers secure cloud infrastructure, companies are responsible for their data and applications. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers, for instance, take on the responsibility of securing the foundational infrastructure, including servers, storage, and networking components.
By 2025, 99% of cloud-security failures are forecast to come from customers.
The bottom line is that providers’ responsibility doesn't extend to every aspect of your cloud deployment. Sometimes a failure to understand the shared responsibility model has huge consequences. Capital One, for instance, initially blamed their cloud provider for a data breach that exposed more than 100 million customers’ information. It was later revealed that the hack was the result of a misconfigured firewall, which fell under Capital One’s purview.
Identity access management (IAM)
A strong IAM configuration is crucial, ensuring that only authorized individuals can access your cloud environments. With the rise in cloud computing, new challenges have emerged in regards to IAM. For example, how do you manage your access management across different cloud providers and cloud apps? To implement a secure IAM configuration, here are some tools and best practices:
Leverage multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA enhances the security of an IAM setup by requiring users to furnish several types of verification prior to data access. Also consider what apps and resources are critical and which resources can be accessed without the need for MFA.
Assign access control based on roles and responsibilities: Limit access based on roles and responsibilities, granting access only to users who need it to perform their job responsibilities. This practice minimizes the risk of unauthorized data access.
Make the most of cloud based IAM tools: Okta, Microsoft Azure Active Directory, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) Identity and Access Management can streamline privilege processes. These tools provide centralized management of user access and authentication, making it easier to implement strong IAM controls.
One major challenge of operating in the cloud is that the data you work with no longer resides on your private machines. It now lives on resources in the cloud, and you have to manage these resources to ensure that data doesn’t fall in the wrong hands.
One of the most critical mechanisms for keeping data safe is the encryption of your data both at rest and in transit. Encryption acts as a complex lock, making data indecipherable to unauthorized entities. In the event of a security breach, encrypted data remains secure and unusable to malicious actors.
Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) is also an important practice for organizations navigating the complexities of cloud environments. As the cloud introduces new layers of data distribution and potential vulnerabilities, DSPM continuously monitors an organization's data security policies and procedures, detecting potential risks and vulnerabilities.
By providing visibility into where sensitive data resides, who has access to it, and its usage patterns, DSPM solutions offer actionable insights that empower IT teams to bolster data protection. This proactive approach is especially crucial given the increasing instances of exposed cloud-hosted databases, ensuring that sensitive data remains shielded from threats—even in intricate cloud configurations.
Whether they’re seeking financial gain or valuable data, cybercriminals look at enterprises and see big rewards. Luckily, there are some easy steps you can take to improve your network security:
Implement network segmentation: Segmentation is akin to building fortified walls within a fortress. By isolating their cloud workloads with security groups and VPCs, enterprises can ensure that a breach in a single segment doesn't affect the entire network. Network segmentation is especially crucial for enterprises that handle varied data types, some of which may be more sensitive and require additional protection.
Use firewalls and intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDPS): Together, firewalls and IDPS serve as vigilant sentries of the fortress. They continuously monitor and scrutinize incoming and outgoing traffic, promptly identifying and blocking malicious actors and harmful requests. Given the scale at which enterprises operate, even a minor oversight can lead to significant breaches.
Conduct regular vulnerability scanning: This process ensures that the walls of the fortress remain impervious. As cyber risks advance, protective measures need to adapt accordingly. Regular scans identify potential weak points, allowing enterprises to patch them before they're exploited.
When you essentially become an enterprise, there are new kinds of processes you need to establish. It brings a lot of change, especially in a rapidly growing environment where there’s lots of new features constantly being added.
Uros Solar, Head of Security Operations and IT Security, Revolut
Cloud detection and response
Cloud detection and response (CDR) is the new standard for fast identification, analysis, and response to potential cloud security threats, and is a must for enterprises in the cloud. CDR enables organizations to:
Gain visibility into their cloud environments: CDR solutions provide organizations with comprehensive visibility into their cloud infrastructure, applications, and data. This visibility is essential for detecting and responding to threats in a timely manner.
Detect threats early: CDR solutions can detect threats early, before they cause damage. This is important because it gives organizations more time to respond to threats and mitigate the damage.
Respond to threats quickly: CDR solutions can help organizations to respond to threats quickly and efficiently. This is important because it helps to minimize the impact of security incidents.
Compliance and auditing
Complying with industry standards helps avoid fines and legal issues. As you adopt new cloud-based solutions, ensure that your selected vendor meets the unique compliance needs for your field. And to ensure effective security measures are in place, regularly assess and document compliance with regulations, and conduct periodic security audits. Using tools to check for vulnerabilities in your cloud resources can keep you on track.
Neglecting these measures can result in data breaches and significant financial and reputational damages. For example, in 2017, Equifax suffered a major data breach that potentially exposed the personal information of 143 million people. Equifax was criticized for failing to patch a known vulnerability in its system, which allowed hackers to gain access to sensitive data.
Cloud security tools
Gartner forecasts that by 2026, 80% of enterprises will consolidate their cloud security tooling to three or fewer vendors, a significant shift from the average of 10 vendors in 2022. Cloud-native application protection platforms, also known as CNAPP solutions, address consolidation challenges head-on by offering a unified platform that integrates various cloud security solutions, ensuring comprehensive protection against cyber threats.
One of the core strengths of CNAPP solutions is they provide complete visibility across all cloud platforms, ensuring consistent coverage across every resource, from virtual machines to serverless functions. Look for CNAPPs like Wiz that offer an agentless approach, leveraging cloud service provider (CSP) APIs to eliminate potential blind spots in a security posture.
Wiz for enterprise
Wiz's cloud security platform helps enterprises of all sizes to protect their data and applications in the cloud.
Unlike many other solutions, Wiz is able to scale to enterprise level. Most other security solutions take months or even a year to realize the full value of your investment. Thanks to Wiz, however, we have been able to achieve that within weeks, which is almost unheard of in our industry.
Michelle Pieszko, Aon's VP Cybersecurity Operations
Wiz helps with enterprise cloud security in a number of ways, including:
Visibility: Wiz provides complete visibility into cloud infrastructure, applications, and data. This helps organizations to identify and understand all of the risks to their cloud environment.
Risk prioritization: Wiz uses a unified risk engine to prioritize risks across all of your cloud resources. This helps you to focus on the most critical risks first, and it makes it easier to allocate your security resources efficiently.
Remediation: Wiz provides remediation recommendations for all of the risks that it identifies. This helps organizations to quickly and efficiently fix the problems that are putting their cloud environment at risk.