What Are Secure Applications in the Cloud?
Secure Cloud Applications Defined
As businesses increasingly rely on cloud applications, the security of these IT resources has become a top priority for CISOs and their teams. Cloud applications can increase the size of an attack surface, exposing an organization to potential data breaches and devastating attacks like ransomware. To secure applications in the cloud, organizations must adopt a multi-layered approach that includes application-level policies, tools, and solutions that restrict access, defend against cyberattacks, and deliver comprehensive visibility into all cloud assets.
To secure applications in the cloud, organizations deploy technologies such as a Web Application Firewall (WAF), Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP), Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) and a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB). Best practices such as regular patching, implementing multifactor authentication, and training employees in security awareness can also help to secure cloud applications.
Types of Cloud Threats
A broad range of cyber threats and inadequate security practices can jeopardize cloud applications' security.
- Vulnerabilities. Attackers may exploit vulnerabilities in cloud applications to gain unauthorized access to IT environments.
- Misconfiguration. When IT teams fail to configure security controls properly, cloud applications may be left unprotected from attacks.
- Denial of Service (DOS) attacks. DOS attacks against cloud applications can threaten business continuity by making critical services unavailable to employees, customers, and partners.
- Lack of visibility. The complex and distributed nature of hybrid cloud environments limits visibility for IT teams, making it harder to identify cloud assets, let alone protect them.
- Skills shortages. When cloud security expertise is in short supply, IT teams may not be equipped to secure applications in the cloud adequately.
- Compliance issues. Failure to comply with data privacy and access regulations like GDPR, HIPAA and PCI DSS can result in significant legal, financial and business damages.
- Unsecure filesharing. When users turn to unsecured filesharing sites to circumvent cumbersome security protocols, they may inadvertently risk their data and the organization.
- Account hijacking. Attackers often use stolen credentials or brute force attacks to access and control user accounts, turning cloud applications into another vector.
- Employee errors. Many successful data breaches are the result of mistakes made by employees. Phishing attacks and social engineering schemes are designed to trick users into divulging credentials or sharing sensitive information.
- Unsecured APIs. Attackers have capitalized on the rapid growth of APIs, often not protected by the same level of controls and defenses that IT teams apply to cloud applications.
- Outdated firewalls. When security teams don’t regularly update systems, firewalls may be left unprotected and can be easily exploited by attackers.
Best Practices for Securing Applications in the Cloud
Organizations can successfully secure applications in the cloud by adhering to several best practices.
- Inventory assets and applications in the cloud. Because each new application added to an organization’s IT environment adds additional risk, security teams must regularly discover and inventory all cloud applications to gain greater visibility into the assets that must be protected.
- Practice an optimal patching cadence. Regularly updating and patching cloud applications is one of the most effective ways to remediate vulnerabilities and secure applications in the cloud.
- Strictly manage access. Identity and Access Management (IAM) technology like multifactor authentication can strictly limit access to cloud apps and ensure that users have access only to the resources they need.
- Reduce the attack surface. IT teams can minimize the attack surface by regularly searching for and removing outdated applications or workloads.
- Monitor for threats. A proactive approach to threat detection can help security teams identify potential attacks and misuse of cloud apps and data more quickly.
- Limit the use of shadow IT. Monitoring unsanctioned cloud applications can help security teams block access to shadow IT instances or align them with security policies.
- Train employees. Security awareness training can help to mitigate human error by enabling employees to spot threats and develop better security hygiene.
What is a CASB?
A Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) is one of the most powerful tools that IT teams can use to secure applications in the cloud. A CASB is a solution between users and cloud service providers. It enforces an organization’s security policies whenever users, devices, or systems attempt to access data and applications in the cloud.
A CASB tool may be deployed as software in the cloud or as a software/hardware solution on-premises. CASBs secure applications in the cloud by monitoring activity, mitigating attacks, and preventing unauthorized access.
CASB software offers several critical benefits for securing cloud applications.
- Achieve greater visibility. When assets and infrastructure move to the cloud, IT teams have more difficulty maintaining visibility of how data and applications are used. A CASB improves the visibility of cloud activity, new cloud services, shadow IT, and the associated risks.
- Enhance data security. A CASB can deploy Data Loss Prevention (DLP) capabilities to prevent leaks and loss. CASBs can also manage and enforce encryption for data moving to the cloud.
- Improve threat detection. By monitoring traffic between users and cloud applications, CASBs can identify malicious activity, block access to risky or unapproved cloud services, mitigate malware and defend against insider threats.
- Streamline compliance. CASBs can enforce policies that ensure compliance with regulatory frameworks around data privacy and security while making it easier to demonstrate compliance and satisfy requests from auditors.
How to Secure Applications in The Cloud with Forcepoint
Forcepoint CASB provides the most comprehensive security coverage to secure applications in the cloud. As part of Forcepoint ONE, Forcepoint CASB enables a Zero Trust approach that allows users, partners and suppliers to securely access any cloud app from any managed or unmanaged device.
As a leading CASB provider, Forcepoint enables organizations to:
- Enjoy cloud data security for public apps. An industry-leading reverse proxy delivers high-performance security in the cloud, protecting access to cloud apps and their data from managed or unmanaged devices.
- Streamline identity management. Forcepoint CASB offers a built-in identity service and integrates easily with identity providers (IdPs) like Ping and Okta to facilitate identity-based access controls and Zero Trust.
- Achieve advanced data security. Forcepoint CASB protects data in motion or at rest. Forcepoint can also block data in transit with agentless data security, encrypt it, mask it, redact it, or watermark it to track sensitive data.
- Scale effortlessly. While traditional CASBs may limit scalability, Forcepoint CASB data centers are powered by the elasticity of a hyper scaler and can automatically scale quickly to meet business requirements.
- Enforce DLP. Forcepoint DLP enforces data loss prevention services across all gateways to protect sensitive information in the cloud, at rest and in motion.
- Eliminate threats. Data-in-motion scanning prevents malware and data exfiltration. Data-at-rest scanning identifies malware and sensitive data independently of data-in-motion scanning.
- Deploy cloud app security easily. With Forcepoint, security teams can protect personal devices without installing agents and use a single agent on corporate devices to minimize deployment, configuration, and management efforts.