Private Cloud Security Explained

Private cloud security is a term that describes the tools and techniques used to secure private cloud environments.

Wiz Experts Team
6 min read

What is private cloud security? 

Private cloud security is a term that describes the tools and techniques used to secure private cloud environments. Private cloud security is critical in protecting an organization's data, applications, and overall digital environment. Organizations can host private clouds either on-premises or off-site at a third-party service provider. In either case, private cloud security involves securing data and applications stored in a dedicated cloud environment, completely isolated from other organizations. This isolation offers more security than public clouds because multi-tenancy, or a shared software instance and a shared infrastructure, widens the attack surface.

Organizations that require private cloud security solutions typically dedicate all their resources to a single tenant, which means a software instance and its underlying infrastructure are not shared with any other organization.

Forrester’s Infrastructure Cloud Survey shows that IT budgets for private cloud resources rose by 77% in 2022. As private cloud adoption grew more common in 2022, so did the rise of hybrid cloud computing models. According to Google Cloud’s State of DevOps Report, hybrid cloud use went up by 25% in 2022.

A closer look at private clouds

A dedicated private cloud environment, whether on-premises or hosted by a third party, has different security needs than public cloud environments. Public cloud services are typically commissioned from vendors like AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure. These services are accessed by multiple users or organizations, which means that public cloud security approaches need to address cross-tenant vulnerabilities and risks. Hybrid clouds, on the other hand, are a combination of both models and offer enterprises more operational and security-related flexibility. 

Private clouds have many unique characteristics. These include exclusivity, high degrees of customization, high performance, effective disaster recovery and business continuity, low latency, and a multitude of hosting options, including on-premises and third-party providers.

Robust security and compliance are arguably the most valuable features of private clouds. The drawbacks of private clouds are that upfront costs can be high and that maintenance can be a challenge. In fact, private clouds are often seen as the most expensive option for enterprises. However, it’s important to remember that its security capabilities, though expensive, are unparalleled. Private cloud models offer security features including dedicated resources, network isolation, restrictive compliance configurations, customized security policies, and complete control.

Key differences among public, private, and hybrid clouds

Knowing the fundamental differences among public, private, and hybrid cloud models is the best way to understand the finer details of private cloud security. The following table provides an introduction to the differences among these cloud architectures.

Public CloudPrivate CloudHybrid Cloud
AccessEveryoneVery FewSome
CostLow to mediumHighMedium to high
Customization and controlLowest controlHighest ControlModerate control
ComplianceWeak to mediumStrongMedium to strong
Data sovereignty and localizationDifficultEasyModerately difficult
Ease of managementEasyDifficultAverage
PerformanceLow to mediumVery highHigh
Resource sharingSharedNot sharedPartially shared
SecurityLow to mediumHighMedium to high

There is no single cloud architecture that works for every business. Enterprises need to consider the following factors before deciding whether private clouds will suit their operational and security needs:

  • Compliance requirements: Every business needs to abide by the stringent requirements laid out by federal, local, and industry-specific governing bodies. Businesses with extremely strict and complex compliance requirements may choose private cloud models because they can build their IT infrastructure to meet their exact regulatory needs. 

  • Security requirements: Certain enterprises and industries are more prone to cyberattacks. Businesses that expect large volumes of damaging attacks and breaches may consider private clouds because of the robust protection that they offer. However, businesses should carefully consider their situation before making heavy private cloud investments.

  • Resource demands: Private clouds can be difficult to customize after they are built. That’s why enterprises with unpredictable or fluctuating computing, storage, and other resource demands should consider more elastic architectures that offer easy granular scaling. Businesses with steady and predictable workloads and resource demands may choose private clouds to unlock performance and security benefits.

  • Cost of ownership: The upfront costs of setting up private clouds can be immense. Furthermore, the maintenance and management of private clouds requires in-house experts and auxiliary infrastructure. Long-term operational costs can be high, which is why enterprises should make an informed and strategic decision when choosing among private, public, and hybrid cloud models.

  • Scalability and flexibility: Today’s volatile business and sociopolitical landscapes mean that enterprise cloud architectures need to be highly scalable and flexible. Many businesses need to be able to efficiently and affordably expand or contract their operations or even alter their architecture based on diverse circumstances. Businesses that expect high degrees of change should sidestep the complexities of private clouds and choose more flexible models.

  • Available expertise: Building and maintaining robust private cloud infrastructure requires top-of-the-line IT professionals. And protecting that infrastructure from a growing list of threats requires in-house cybersecurity experts. Businesses that have strong in-house IT and cybersecurity capabilities may be a good fit for private cloud models. Businesses that lack in-house talent would be taking a major risk by doing so.

Private cloud security best practices 

Here are seven important private cloud security best practices that businesses can follow to protect themselves from data breaches:

1. Optimize access control and identity management

Identity access management (IAM) is a critical component of private cloud security. IAM ensures that no digital user in private cloud environments has access to sensitive information that’s unrelated to their primary duties. Because IAM presupposes that all identities (even legitimate users) are dangerous, it requires that every single user trying to access sensitive resources must pass multiple rounds of authentication and authorization. 

2. Encrypt data

The volume of global data breaches suggests that a cyberattack is an inevitability for most organizations. Data encryption is the process of rendering data into an unreadable ciphertext that requires an encryption key to become visible as plaintext. That’s why encrypting data, both static and in transit, prevents illegitimate users from reading or profiting from access to sensitive records. 

3. Address the physical security of private cloud infrastructures

The physical security requirements of private cloud infrastructures vary depending on whether organizations opt for their own on-premises data centers or choose third-party services. Third-party providers handle physical security by themselves, but it’s important for enterprises to choose companies with strong security reputations and track records. Enterprises that have their own data centers must defend against illegitimate access and hazards to servers. Surveillance cameras, security personnel, hardware inspections, and fire protection are examples of physical security measures for private cloud infrastructures.

4. Enhance data privacy and protection

Private clouds offer more robust fortifications for data. However, enterprises still need to ensure that sensitive data is stored, managed, and utilized in adherence to laws and regulations. Some methods to ensure data privacy and protection include regularly backing up data, encrypting all data, implementing zero-trust principles like least privilege, keeping up with data hygiene and data lifecycles, and meticulously disposing of hardware containing sensitive information.

Data privacy and protection failures can be irreversibly damaging. For instance, TikTok was fined $368 million by the Irish Data Protection Commission for lapses in children’s data privacy.

5. Leverage security tools and technologies

Enterprises need to take advantage of security tools to discover, prioritize, remediate, validate, and report vulnerabilities and risks in their private cloud infrastructures. These tools and technologies can include cloud detection and response, cloud security posture management, data security posture management, cloud infrastructure entitlement management, and cloud workload protection platforms. The most important factor is that these tools are consolidated into a single platform. Siloed security is a security risk in itself. 

6. Implement two-factor authentication

A single authentication step is rarely enough to protect your private cloud infrastructure from threats. It’s important to implement two-factor authentication so that every user is vetted for legitimacy using two different kinds of authentication criteria or credentials. For example, a password is a common primary authentication method. However, authentication can be strengthened if a secondary measure such as a one-time password or biometrics verification is added. 

7. Ensure comprehensive monitoring and logging

The era of periodic vulnerability management is gone. The safety of a private cloud ecosystem can only be maintained if enterprises continuously and diligently monitor and remediate critical vulnerabilities in their environments. Companies also need to meticulously log security measures, risks, vulnerabilities, and remediation actions because these reports can help other threat intelligence initiatives and strengthen their overall security posture.

Private cloud risks and challenges

The current threat landscape can be unforgiving. According to The Independent, there were at least 43 million sensitive records compromised due to data breaches in just August 2023 alone, and almost 365 million people were affected by data breaches between January and November 2023.

The biggest risks that companies utilizing private clouds will face include misconfigurations, integration complexities, monitoring and incident response challenges, tech talent shortages, and compliance issues. Raising the stakes, private clouds feature a single point of failure, which means that security incidents can have catastrophic implications. These risks can be mitigated by following the aforementioned private cloud security best practices and choosing trusted cloud security experts like Wiz.

The best approach to private cloud security

As we’ve seen, private cloud security is immensely important in the current era of cloud computing because private clouds provide unique advantages while also presenting unique challenges. The most important private cloud security measure is to commission a security solution that combines CSPM, cloud workload protection, CIEM, DSPM, and more into a single, unified platform. Wiz’s cloud native security platform does just that and can help you navigate and secure the exciting possibilities of private cloud architectures.

Want to learn more about how Wiz can serve your organization and secure your private cloud? Get a demo now. 

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