Defense Against Vulnerabilities in the Cloud – Is It Too Late?
The ongoing global pandemic forced businesses around the world to accelerate their digital transformation efforts including moving their workloads to the cloud, and in the process, offload their security risks to the cloud providers. However, the shared responsibility model of the cloud still puts the onus of protection of their data and workloads back on them.
These risks arise due to the incorrect understanding of the shared responsibilities, which will only exacerbate exponentially as more businesses move their operations to the cloud. Organizations are still in the process of comprehending what their optimal strategy should be for protecting their assets and data in the cloud. Security vulnerabilities in the cloud aren’t new. The mad dash to the cloud has forced the organizations to re-think about having a sound security foundation in their quest to re-build resilient infrastructures.
Primary Challenges in Securing Cloud Workloads
Apart from the traditional challenges around access management, data pilferage and threats from data communication with third party applications is gaining prominence. Communication with third party applications has found increased traction through APIs, which are increasingly being targeted by threat actors.
Further, misconfigurations and policy violations in cloud assets create potential vulnerabilities and backdoors leading to risk of compromise. This is primarily due to the policies of some companies to not change the default security settings on their cloud workloads. These cloud vulnerabilities are accentuated by the increasing number of connected systems and their dependencies.
The genesis of many vulnerabilities boil down to access and privilege management. Organizations need to plan for a deep inspection and vulnerability management system as part of their devsecops pipeline for building scalable cloud native applications. A comprehensive vulnerability management system goes a long way to enable organizations to effectively manage and minimizing their threat attack surface.
Vulnerability Management for Containers
Focus on code vulnerabilities is critical to reducing an organization’s attack surface and minimizing exposure — and this is a starting point for businesses embarking on their cloud adoption journey.
There are underlying challenges that need attention within the container ecosystem including the images and functions:
- Identification of vulnerabilities within images, which need to be found and fixed early on
- Need for a risk-based prioritization of vulnerabilities
- False positives, as with most security detention mechanisms, this is a major challenge
- Identification of the source of vulnerabilities
- Scalability through automation: Scanning and parsing through thousands of container images is no longer a problem that can be solved through manual activities, hence automation of the entire process provides better scalability.
Software Vulnerability Management is all about enabling customers with a secure patch management process across the entire organization. The framework should be able to identify vulnerabilities in third-party software and alert administrators about the severity of the potential threat.
Context is everything in taking a comprehensive approach to fix vulnerabilities based on the attention they deserve. It should facilitate an automated patch management system by fixing vulnerabilities when needed in ways that don’t hinder the processes. Customized vulnerability reporting and patch management, along with continuous compliance, best helps customers navigate the dynamics of the entire cloud security posture of their organization in a better way.
Cloud security isn’t one-size-fits-all. A scalable product that can accommodate the specifics of a businesses and enable it to deal with rapidly changing dynamics is a critical step towards achieving better handle on cloud workload security and build secure applications. More importantly, it helps ensure that organizations don’t become the next target of highly debilitating cyberattacks.