AcademyWhat is Multi-Cloud Security? Challenges, Benefits, and Best Practices

What is Multi-Cloud Security? Challenges, Benefits, and Best Practices

Cloud computing has revolutionized infrastructure management, as well as application and service deployment.

Wiz Experts Team

Organizations started their cloud journey with a single provider, often duplicating their existing data center infrastructure virtually, but soon grew to understand the advantages the cloud model offered. Building upon these initial cloud deployments, organizations began to realize that consuming services from multiple cloud service providers could provide several benefits in terms of reliability, availability, cost reduction and regulatory compliance. 

The journey to the cloud means understanding a whole new business dynamic, a new set of skills for technical teams, and new business processes to adopt. That complexity increases with multi-cloud.  

Multi-Cloud Security Challenges 

A multi-cloud security approach seeks to protect cloud-native applications and services, wherever they may be, ensuring organizations operate securely while benefiting from the positives of the multi-cloud model. The challenges a multi-cloud security approach must overcome include: 

  • Consistency: The elephant in the room - every cloud service provider has a different approach to security. Different models, different responsibilities and compliance obligations, different best practice recommendations and different names for the same services. These inconsistencies can lead to vulnerabilities, both within a single cloud, and cross-cloud. 

  • Observability: Gathering metrics from cloud applications and services is already a big job, with resources spread across locations and a variety of monitoring tools designed for specific platforms only. 

  • Identity & Access Management: Creating roles and granting access to resources on a least privilege basis is fundamental to cloud security, but the inconsistencies between tools across cloud service providers make the creation and maintenance of identical policies across locations all but impossible. 

  • Misconfiguration: Operator error is the single most common route for a vulnerability to be introduced, be it an error in code, data stored in the wrong location, or exposed secrets. Such errors can result in data loss, breaches, outages, and cloud resource compromise. 

  • Data Security:  For most organizations data is the most valuable asset, be it customers, products, orders, or sales information. Compliance in regulated environments as well as state laws require data be stored and processed in a way that protects privacy and emphasizes security. 

  • Shared Responsibility: The shared responsibility model sets out the responsibilities of the cloud service provider, which includes the data center facility, the physical systems upon which you build your applications and services, and the networks that deliver users to them. Customer responsibilities vary based on services consumed, but usually include ensuring the secure deployment of a cloud service, and controlling access to that service. To make a success of multi-cloud, it is vital to understand the precise separation of those responsibilities, and how it may differ between cloud service providers. 

Components of Multi-Cloud Security 

A multi-cloud security approach consists of the policies and tools necessary to protect workloads, applications, and data, across cloud service providers. Components of a multi-cloud security solution include: 

  • Automation: With most vulnerabilities introduced as a result of misconfiguration, automation can reduce the likelihood of such events. By introducing policies and guardrails that are implemented in each cloud environment and automating deployments, it is possible to ensure a secure foundation. Monitoring can trigger automated tools to return configurations to a secure state in the event of deviation. Automation can also be leveraged in multi-cloud for threat monitoring and incident remediation, ensuring a consistency of approach and a common security posture regardless of platform. 

  • Dashboarding: Good multi-cloud security relies upon centralized monitoring, collating logs and data from all cloud locations for analysis and dashboarding in a single location. Analysis and visualization tools designed for multi-cloud provide comprehensive data and a holistic view of all cloud environments, improving security posture. 

  • Tooling: Security tools designed for multi-cloud deployments operate across cloud service providers, offering a common user experience, integration patterns, configurations and policies, as well as outputs that can be sent to a single dashboarding and analytics solution. 

  • DevSecOps: The DevSecOps methodology sees the shift-left of security, embedding security tooling into the software development lifecycle and enabling the detection of security vulnerabilities as early as possible. Early detection means more efficient remediation, lower cost, and a more efficient development lifecycle and a more secure product. Security tooling in multi-cloud environments needs to be capable of consistent scanning, assessment, and remediation across cloud platforms 

Benefits of Multi-Cloud Security 

Consuming services from multiple cloud service providers offers benefits to the organization in terms of features, resilience, and data sovereignty. Security in a multi-cloud environment is also advantageous to the organization in several ways: 

  • Reliability: Multi-cloud provides even greater reliability for data and business-critical applications, and multi-cloud security enables the secure delivery of applications and services across cloud platforms, further increasing reliability. 

  • Consistent Security: With deployment to multiple cloud platforms comes an increase in attack surface. Continuous monitoring addresses the increase in threat, and common policy and tooling across platforms ensures a consistent security posture throughout environments. 

  • Cost Optimization: Adopting a multi-cloud approach to security results in better protection from cyberattack, reducing disruption, the costs associated with recovery and repair, and lost sales while building trust and reputation with customers. 

  • Visibility: Successful multi-cloud security means teams can see emerging threats in real-time, no matter where they occur. A consistent logging, monitoring, and alerting solution is a must to secure applications and services across cloud platforms. 

  • Disaster Recovery: No matter how resilient a solution design, incidents can scale beyond the accommodations made. Region-wide issues are not as uncommon as we might wish yet regulatory compliance might force operations to be restricted to a region. Multi-cloud offers the opportunity to consume services from more than one provider, optimizing the Availability aspect of the CIA triad. 

Multi-Cloud Security Best Practices 

In addition to cloud security best practices, it is important to consider these multi-cloud security best practices for successful deployments: 

  • Normalize Security Tooling: Adopt tooling to manage cloud services in a common way regardless of underlying cloud service provider management tools. For example, Azure identities are modeled entirely differently from AWS identities, which are differently modeled in GCP. Security tooling creates a common language to manage all from one place. 

  • Gain multi-cloud visibility: Gathering security metrics in a single location allows better understanding of security posture across architectures, making the creation of consistent security simple. 

  • Display security information in a single pane of glass: A multi-cloud solution to monitoring and alerting with built in heatmaps and visualizations helps prioritization and remediation across platforms. 

  • Enforce Consistent Security Policy: Enforce security policies across clouds regardless of architecture using multi-cloud security tools. 

  • Ensure Cross-cloud protection: Select a multi-cloud security solution that protects against cross-cloud attack vectors. 

Look for a multi-cloud security partner who provides an integration tier enabling management of all cloud platforms in a single location. Review your requirements against the features of that solution, and prioritize the consistency of security posture across environments to ensure a successful an cost-efficient implementation. Learn more about how Wiz can support a secure transition to multi-cloud, by booking a demo

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