NordLayer - Network Security

With businesses moving their complete infrastructures to cloud interfaces, all related areas must quickly adapt to the changing landscape. Maintenance of the whole system is a challenge, and it's made more difficult by constantly evolving cyber threats.

Therefore, tracking and managing security-related events occurring in cloud-based environments is one of the top priorities. Since it deals with potential security incidents detection and response, it's one of the cornerstones of cloud network security. As this is a broad topic, we'll present a general overview for organizations that helps to put cloud security monitoring in a better perspective.

What is cloud security monitoring?

Monitoring constitutes one part of cloud security management. It works as various automations, continuously scanning virtual and physical servers looking for threats and vulnerabilities. This assures network administrators that the security is under control and the sensitive data is kept safe.

Some monitoring cloud security tools cross-reference detected threats with various databases to quickly provide network administrators with more data regarding the discovered threat. This helps to ensure smooth business continuity.

Why is cloud security monitoring important?

Modular application architecture has gained significant traction within cloud environments. Consequently, this created a complex matrix of intertwined communication between infrastructures and networks. What also plays a part here is the internet factor and using channels that, for the most part, are publicly available.

In the same way, cloud computing leveled the playing field to the point where even small startups can have the same processing power previously only attainable to large enterprises. However, as the service is provided via intermediaries, this lowers visibility into the users' communication. It has to be managed to strike a healthy balance between availability and managing risks. Therefore, monitoring is one of the best methods to achieve it.

How does cloud security monitoring work?

In most cases, cloud service providers offer built-in cloud security monitoring tools as part of the package. The cloud hosting infrastructure often already comes equipped with monitoring tools. In cases when it does not, or the client wants additional reassurance, there's always a possibility to turn to third-party providers.

The tools aggregate data from various sources like servers, instances, and containers. It's up to the cloud monitoring solution to correlate and analyze the collected data.

Benefits of cloud security monitoring

Cloud security monitoring helps businesses in several ways. Here are the principal benefits that cloud security monitoring brings to the table.

Maintains compliance

Monitoring is one of the key requirements for regulatory compliance. Cloud-based companies must use various monitoring tools outlined in HIPAA and PCI DSS documents. Not following these regulations risks compliance violations that could cause huge fines to the company.

Vulnerability identification

IT personnel need all help they can get when it comes to the timely identification of various threats. Automated monitoring solutions can provide instant alerts about various anomalies and ongoing threats. This brings a deeper insight into what's happening within an internal network.

Protects business continuity

Overlooked problems within the network can result in data leaks and cybersecurity incidents. Monitoring is an additional layer of security that should be used to ensure that all the business services aren't interrupted.

Increase security maturity

Companies with high cybersecurity maturity can boast multiple layers of security. Active threat monitoring is usually mentioned as one of the key components of a business's cybersecurity model. It helps to supervise the overall network environment.

Challenges of cloud security monitoring

While cloud security monitoring solves quite a lot of various security concerns, it does pose some challenges as well. Here are the principal challenges that cloud security monitoring met with.

Lack of strategic planning

Even after migrating to the cloud, many organizations don't consider the importance of overall cloud strategy. The monitoring should serve various purposes, like increasing visibility into cloud policy changes or helping to track assets. It's one of the tools within the organization's arsenal to shape its IT infrastructure to achieve ever-lasting business benefits.

Alert fatigue

Cloud monitoring products tend to bombard users with a barrage of notifications. While some of them can be significant, the absolute majority may not always be as critical as the tool would have you believe. This means finding the information crucial to the organization's security can also be harder. It's important to configure such a tool to prioritize alerts that are of higher importance.

Lack of context

Alerts and usage logs are only useful if the person reading them knows how to interpret them. Security teams tasked with network monitoring should closely understand the organization's network and what they are looking for. Only by putting the information provided by the tool into the right context can the tools become useful. This requires your in-house team to know what to make of all the provided data and alerts.

Cloud security monitoring best practices

When planning a functional cloud security monitoring solution, it's important to consider these good practices. They are sure to make the whole process smoother.

Do a thorough cloud provider analysis

While the big three cloud service providers (Google, Amazon, and Microsoft) offer similar services, there can be much more variety with other providers. In cases when some compliance requirements apply to your business, you should carefully consider whether the provider will be able to ensure that it will fit your needs.

Perform an inventorization

Knowledge of the full extent of connected devices helps to understand the full scope of potential security risks. Shadow IT can threaten the cloud infrastructure, which could be easily overlooked. Knowing what has been done previously serves as a guide for network administrators looking to resolve various misconfigurations.

Take the layered approach

Setting up cybersecurity layers helps organizations achieve the best combination of security and visibility. Monitoring tools should be implemented in such a way as to allow supervising specific components within the tech stack. Be it hardware or orchestration, monitoring tools should provide insight into each component of your tech stack.

Conclusion

As businesses move to cloud infrastructures, cloud security monitoring is one of the most important components of the whole tech stack. Tracking and managing various events in real-time is crucial in a modern and fast-changing digital environment.

Cloud data security monitoring relies on various automations and alerts funneling everything to the network administrator, who then decides how to act on the provided data. While this makes compliance, vulnerability identification, and business continuity protection easier, it does have its flaws. It needs proper configurations to filter out insignificant alerts and requires specific knowledge on the network administrator's part.

Having that said, keeping business goals in mind and compliance requirements when it's implemented is a way to implement monitoring successfully. Cloud security monitoring can greatly expand the cybersecurity inventory that's available to a company.