Best Cloud Security Tools – How to choose the right one?
The digital landscape changed drastically in the last few years as technology advanced. As a result, data has also become an increasingly valuable asset for most companies. This is why the data sharing, storage, and security sector has rapidly grown into a massive industry. Cloud computing has revolutionized the way we share and store our data. With virtualized servers and outsourced infrastructure, data has never been more flexible and accessible. There is an immense increase seen in Cloud Infrastructure, but that also raise the demand of Cloud Security Tools.
According to Statista, Cloud IT infrastructure spending in 2023 is expected to reach almost US$ 94 billion.This shift towards a cloud dynamic can a be double-edged sword. The demand and capabilities of cloud computing have also created several data vulnerabilities and cloud security issues. As new cloud infrastructure is developed, new cyber threats are evolving to destabilize their security. Statista reported that the global cloud security software market in 2020 was valued at US$ 29.5 billion and is expected to reach approximately US$ 37 billion by 2026.
The largest cloud security tools market is North America, whereas Asia Pacific is the fastest-growing market. The rapid growth in cloud adoption over the past years has driven the need for better cloud security solutions. In a technology-driven world, it's impossible to avoid these threats which makes combating them the only option. in this article, we examine the nuances of cloud security tools and take a closer look at how cloud threat protection can be used to ensure your data safety.
Major Cyber Threats on Infrastructure
Cloud threats can have devastating effects on companies, supply chains, and entire industries. Breaching cloud security can lead to data loss, service disruptions, and downtime which can cost any business large amounts of money. Moreover, a company’s reputation and brand are permanently tainted by a cloud attack. For larger companies, this might be a hiccup, but for small to medium businesses, a cloud threat can mean the end of the line completely.
Some of the recent cloud security breaches to make headlines include:
Colonial Oil Pipeline Ransomware Attack
In May of 2021, the Colonial Oil Pipeline company was the victim of a ransomware attack. As the largest oil product pipeline operator in the United States, the cyber-attack forced the shutdown of all operations. BBC News revealed that the Darkside ransomware group was behind the attack – planting malware and stealing nearly 100GB of the company's data. The attack led to a sharp rise in fuel prices across America which caused mass panic and supply chain issues.
Gartner’s VP Analyst, Katell Thielemann, described the attack on Colonial Pipeline as an “eye-opener” to CSO. She went on to say that the attack was “not so much a pivotal moment for ransomware attacks as it was a pivotal moment for the risks to critical infrastructure.” The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack forced the US government to take cybersecurity more seriously to avoid critical infrastructure disruptions in the future.
Conti Costa Rica Cyber-Attack
Costa Rica declared a state of emergency in May 2022 after a string of cyber-attacks halted the economy and affected several branches of government, healthcare, and other sectors. In April, the Conti ransomware group launched its first attack against Costa Rica, demanding a $20 million ransom. According to reports, the attack cost the nation millions of dollars.
Tax payments were disrupted and staff at the 27 affected government agencies had to revert to pen and paper as their computers remained useless. The Conti ransomware spent months in the Costa Rican servers tunneling around. The Financial Times noted that the stand-off left parts of Costa Rica’s digital infrastructure crippled for months - paralyzing online tax collection, disrupting public healthcare, and halting pay for some public sector workers.
IHG Hotel Cyber-Attack
The InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) was the victim of a cyber-attack in September 2022. In a statement, the company admitted that parts of its technology systems had been subject to “unauthorized activity.” Booking channels and company applications were disrupted. Claiming responsibility, a couple - going by the name “TeaPot” – shared a telegram with the BBC showing that the duo had gained access to the company's internal Outlook emails, Microsoft Teams chats, and server directories.
The couple used a wiper malware to destroy data after not being able to carry out a ransomware attack against IHG. They also admitted that the username and password to the vault were available to all 200,000 employees and that the password was extremely weak. Surprisingly, the password was Qwerty1234, which regularly appears on lists of most commonly used passwords worldwide. However, the IHG spokesperson denied these allegations of weak security measures.
The incidents have all had a dramatic impact on the way cloud threats are received and how cloud threat protection can be enacted across all industries.
Understanding Cloud Threats for security purposes
While we can understand that cloud threats are an alarming new trend, we need to engage with them to fully understand their impact and how to defend against them. Some of the main examples of cloud threats to explore include:
The cloud offers vast storage capabilities for several types of data. This setup is ideal for easily accessible and flexible data management in the expanding remote or hybrid working environment. However, with the capacity to store that much data, cloud infrastructure is also vulnerable to data breaches. This refers to the theft of any data to be exposed, used, or viewed by anyone without authorized access.
Distributed Denial of Service – or DDoS – attacks are used to slow down or disrupt network traffic. Hackers use a DDoS attack to overwhelm a server or network with too much traffic. This can bring down the server and interrupt all operations. A distributed attack uses the resources of thousands of computers around the world to carry out this cyber-attack.
APIs and similar interfaces also pose significant risks to cloud security. These vastly advancing technologies offer a larger attack surface for hackers when smaller oversights leave them vulnerable to threat actors. These include misconfigurations, coding vulnerabilities, or a lack of authentication and authorization among other things.
According to a report by Statista, from 2019 to 2022, over 60% of respondents named misconfiguration of the cloud platform or the wrong setup as the biggest security threat in public clouds. The management and scaling of cloud infrastructure can be challenging and most companies do not have the skills or workforce to handle it. This leads to a gaping vulnerability for hackers to take advantage of.
An insider threat is any attack that comes from somebody inside the company or network. These include employees, partners, or anyone within the organization who uses their access to privileged data to compromise the company.
Cloud cyber-attacks are usually carried out by hacker groups, disgruntled employees, or simple thrill-seekers. While the motive behind most cloud cyber-attacks is typically hashed down to simple financial gain, cloud threats can have several other motivations as well, including:
- Political: Some hacking groups work on behalf of governments or their political ideologies to use cloud threats to destabilize the cybersecurity of other enemy nations. The Russia-Ukraine cyber-attacks are a testament to this motivation.
- Hacktivism: Hacktivism uses cyber threats as a form of protest to make a statement reflecting personal beliefs or condemning certain situations. “Hacktivists” usually target larger corporations or governments that they believe are morally incorrect.
- Emotional Drivers: Some hackers might be motivated out of anger, jealousy, boredom, or vengeance. These attacks typically have a more vindictive flare and result mostly in the destruction of data.
- Recognition: Some hackers – especially younger or inexperienced ones – might look to cybercrime to gain recognition or ranking amongst their peers in the digital underground.
- Achievement: As with most talents, hackers could also be motivated by the simple thrill of achievement. Breaching advanced cloud security because of your ego’s need to succeed can be a good motivator as well.
- Corporate Espionage: Competing companies can also look to hackers to knock their competition down a few pegs through an organized cyber-attack.
Cloud threat protection requires more than a defense plan. To ensure that your data is secure from every angle, you need to implement a proactive approach to cybersecurity. This means using cloud security techniques that actively work to prevent cyber-attacks rather than methods that simply contain the damage. A proactive approach keeps your data protected while boosting your company’s image.
Cloud Security and Threat Protection Techniques
Cloud threat protection techniques work to keep your data safe and your network secure. A Statista study showed that the most important cloud security priority for companies in 2023 was preventing cloud misconfigurations. 12% of the respondents stated that their company's priority was cloud security training while 5% wanted to secure bring your own device (BYOD) policies. There are various ways that your company can maintain the best cloud security protection. Some of the best cloud threat protection techniques include:
1. Access Control and Identity Management
For any company, access management is a crucial element in securing the network. An access control and management platform will limit access to malicious websites and act as a filter between your network and the outside web. Malware, viruses, and other cyber threats are constantly searching for ways to access your system and a secure gateway ensures that they won’t. Sangfor’s Secure Web Gateway uses this technology to reduce access to your network and ensure data protection. The platform does this by monitoring all traffic for malicious activity, limiting bandwidth usage to the set requirements, and ensuring consistent data loss prevention.
2. Encryption and Data Protection
Effective encryption techniques also ensure that your data stays secure. Only authorized personnel have access to encryption codes or passwords which limits the access and vulnerability of data in your network.
3. Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS)
An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) is a network security tool that monitors network traffic for suspicious and malicious activity based on rules and signatures. These systems can be included as either hardware or software components in your existing security setup.
4. Vulnerability Scanning and Patch Management
Vulnerability scanning involves the identification, mitigation, and classification of vulnerabilities within a system. A vulnerability scan will assess the entire system to find any flaws or areas of weakness then generate a report. Patch management refers to the removal and fixing of vulnerabilities in an existing software. These are both important aspects of vulnerability management.
5. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
The Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) framework refers to the use of Security Information Management (SIM) and Security Event Management (SEM) to provide an overall outlook on the security posture of an organization. SIEM solutions generate alerts based on pattern analysis, resources, and real-time information. This helps your company stay one step ahead.
6. Zero-Trust Security Model
The zero-trust cybersecurity model assumes that no one can be trusted. The framework demands authorization at every step and ensures that your network is entirely protected. Sangfor’s Zero-Trust Network Access ensures that authorization is constantly required to prevent threat actors or unauthorized users from accessing privileged data.
7. Cloud-Native Security Solutions
Naturally, to defend against cloud threats, you need to use cloud-native security solutions. These are cybersecurity platforms that were designed specifically for a cloud environment. They can match the flexibility, scaling, and capacity of cloud platforms. Sangfor offers its advanced Next-Generation Firewall solution to provide integrated protection from evolving cloud threats. With advanced threat detection, AI capabilities, and cloud deception technology, the firewall is ideal for maintaining your network’s security boundaries.
Sangfor’s Cyber Command solution also goes the extra mile for your cloud threat protection by integrating endpoint and network security solutions, using AI and behavioral analysis, and ensuring superior visibility across your system.
Lastly, the Sangfor Endpoint Security platform is perfect for keeping your endpoint secure and clean. The endpoints of any network are vulnerable to malware and cyber-attacks. This is why Sangfor uses end-to-end protection, forensic analysis, and world-class malware detection.
Best Cloud Security Tools
When searching for the right cloud security tools for your company, you want to invest in the best. This is why we’ve drawn up a list of some of the top cloud security tools on the market to keep your network and data in the best hands:
1. Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB)
Gartner defines Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) as on-premises or cloud-based security policy enforcement points that are placed between cloud service consumers and cloud service providers to combine and interject enterprise security policies as the cloud-based resources are accessed.
Essentially, this is the police force that keeps your software and infrastructure safe from cyber-attacks. It does this by providing a host of security features to maintain your network’s integrity. Examples of these include authentication, authorization, credential mapping, encryption, tokenization, logging, malware detection, and more.
Sangfor’s Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is a cloud-native combination of network security functions and solutions that is designed to provide secure access required by enterprises globally faced with an ultra-dynamic cybersecurity landscape. It provides improved control and visibility of network traffic, user access, and data for your organization by putting puts together a software-defined network with functional network security within a single service.
2. Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) Tools
Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) tools help your company to identify and remediate risks by automating visibility, uninterrupted monitoring, threat detection, and remediation workflows. This allows them to find misconfigurations across diverse cloud infrastructures such as:
Mistakes are bound to happen and humans are still human at the end of the day. This means that we cannot let small errors leave the entire vulnerable to attack. CSPM tools enable you to take control and use the latest technologies to combat these risks.
3. Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP)
A Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) is a security tool that finds and removes threats inside cloud software. These tools are meant to find vulnerabilities and flaws within the cloud infrastructure to remedy them before further damage can be done. Sangfor’s Zero-Trust Network uses risk mapping, alert center, behavior tracking, and intelligent reporting to provide visibility in different dimensions.
The ZTNA solution can also be used for remote, mobile, hybrid, and multi-branch offices, remote development, privileged access, data center micro-segmentation, and the Internet of Things (IoT). The Sangfor ZTNA platform has also been recognized as a “Leader” in the IDC Market Scape: Zero Trust Network Access Solutions in China, 2022, Vendor Evaluations.
4. Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) Solutions for the Cloud
Endpoint detection and response solutions focus on maintaining the integrity of your endpoints. This means limiting access, threat detection, and malware mitigation. Sangfor’s Endpoint Secure platform combines all these features to provide a holistic approach to endpoint protection.
5. Threat Intelligence Services
Threat intelligence works by gathering information on past cyber-attacks, malware strains, and behavioral analysis to create a pool of knowledge and resources. This helps to identify existing threats faster while containing and analyzing new threats. Sangfor’s Cyber Command platform uses threat intelligence from the Golden Eye feature which studies the behavior of compromised assets and uses that information to strengthen external and internal system defenses - making cyber threat hunting easier.
6. Cloud-Based Identity and Access Management (IAM)
A cloud-based identity and access management tool allows you to authenticate and approve access to users across the network from wherever they are. This is especially useful for remote working environments. Sangfor’s Internet Access Gateway gives you the ability to identify, analyze, and authorize access as you see fit. With full visibility, user analytics, and intelligent traffic management, you’ll have seamless control over your network.
Choosing the Right Cloud Security Tools for Your Needs
Now that you know what’s available, you might have to start making some choices. Choosing the right cloud threat protection for your company takes a lot more than simply choosing the best-looking option. There are several factors to consider before choosing the right solution:
Most large companies can afford to splurge when it comes to the latest and greatest cloud threat protection techniques. Unfortunately, small to medium-sized businesses have to consider the costs before investing. Ensure that you know how much your company can invest in cloud security before diving in. This includes money spent on infrastructure, maintenance, and skills.
Compatibility with Your Cloud Environment
The cloud threat protection solution you choose needs to be suited to your specific cloud setup. This means your infrastructure will look different depending on your needs. If you have both on-premises and virtual servers, you need a security solution that can cater to both those systems.
Your cloud security solution needs to move as far as you can. Choose an option that can be scaled according to the demands of your business. If you see your company expanding quickly, your cloud security tools need to accommodate those needs.
Ease of Integration
Many people feel daunted by the thought of adapting to a new technology. Cloud infrastructure is already a recent innovation enough. This is why your cloud security solution needs to be something that can be easily integrated into whichever cloud environment and existing cybersecurity tools you have working for you. It also needs to be easy to use and maintain.
Reporting and Analytics Capabilities
More than simply defending your cloud environment, your cloud security needs to go a step further. The ideal cloud security tool will generate reports and analytics to keep you informed and updated at all times. It can also suggest ways to improve your security posture and provide valuable insight.
To conduct a thorough evaluation of your company’s needs, you need to fully understand what you want from your business. Your goals and ambitions will set the stage for the type of cloud security you need. For example, if you dream of hundreds of branches, your cloud security needs to stretch to fit those parameters. A few more tips to consider for this evaluation include answering these questions:
- What does your company provide?
- What do you define as growth in your industry?
- Are you willing to adapt?
- What does success look like to you?
- Will your company recover from a cyber-attack?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you should have a better understanding of what your cloud security solution needs to look like.
Best Practices for Cloud Threat Protection
Cloud threat protection can be challenging for some companies and individuals. Apart from having the right cloud security tools, you need to adapt your behavior as well to ensure the best cloud security protection. We’ve rounded up a few of the best practices for implementing robust cloud threat protection:
- Regularly and constantly monitor and audit cloud resources for malware, viruses, and more. Using advanced antivirus solutions ensures a clean network.
- Regularly update and patch systems, software, and more.
- Develop an incident response plan.
- Lock out previous employees with access to the system.
- Ensure cyber hygiene practices amongst your colleagues and employees.
- Advocate for Cyber Security Awareness Month campaigns within your business to educate others.
- Using strong passwords.
- Enabling Multi-Factor Authentication.
Examples of Successful Cloud Threat Protection in Action
Cloud threat protection in the real world works just as well as it does on paper. These fantastic real-world examples of cloud security tools in action should inspire you to make the change and invest in cloud threat protection today.
PT Terminal Petikemas Surabaya (TPS)
The PT Terminal Petikemas Surabaya (TPS) organization runs a terminal located in the western area of Surabaya, Indonesia. The logistics company struggled with:
- bandwidth management capabilities
- blocking VPN connections
- generating reports
Fortunately, the company made use of Sangfor’s Internet Access Gateway (IAG) solution for simplified operations, anti-proxy capabilities, quality performance, and intuitive report generation.
Sripatum University (SPU)
The Sripatum University is one of Thailand's oldest and most prestigious private universities. The university found challenges with:
- configuration and installation
- blocking threats
- infrastructure performance and maintenance
With Sangfor’s Internet Access Gateway, Next-Generation Firewall, Endpoint Secure platform, and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, the university had no trouble with blocking cyber threats, maintenance, performance, or configuration.
Azienda Socio Sanitaria Territoriale (ASST) Lariana
The Azienda Socio Sanitaria Territoriale (ASST) Lariana is an established healthcare provider in the Province of Como, Italy. It struggled to deal with:
- growing cyber threats
However, Sangfor’s Cyber Command platform gave the organization 360-degree visibility with automatic identification of assets and related inventory as well as continuous analysis of current and potential risks based on indicators of compromise and attack for each asset.
The Future of Cloud Threat Protection
Cloud computing is growing rapidly and that means that cloud threat protection will have to evolve with it. As technology moves along, emerging threats begin to surface and innovation must help us stay ahead. Some of the best-emerging trends for cloud security tools include the use of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and automation. Cybersecurity has already implemented AI technologies into most platforms. Cloud threat protection will quickly be the next and certainly not the last tool to benefit from automated intelligence and design.
Cloud security techniques are crucial in a world quickly living in the cloud. There are several cloud security tools at your disposal to keep your network and data safe. Ensuring the right cloud security for your company takes a lot of consideration and understanding of your needs. Remember to always instill the best cyber hygiene practices in your employees, colleagues, friends, and anyone you know. Keeping safe in the digital world is a joint responsibility.
Invest in a proactive approach to your cloud security today to avoid disaster and data loss. Remember that prevention is always better than a cure – and that applies to your cybersecurity measures as well. Make the right choice and keep updated, aware, and informed about the latest emerging trends, threats, and solutions. Your cloud security is in your hands, but you can always trust Sangfor to take the burden off your back as well.
Sangfor is a leading cybersecurity and cloud [provider that believes in reaching beyond the stars to create a secure, innovative, and better future for us all. For more information on Sangfor’s cybersecurity and cloud computing solutions, please visit www.sangfor.com.
- Cloud database security market size worldwide in 2020 and 2027. Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1246584/cloud-database-security-market/
- 11 top cloud security threats. CSO Online. https://www.csoonline.com/article/555213/top-cloud-security-threats.html
- How do you evaluate and compare different cloud service providers and platforms? LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/advice/0/how-do-you-evaluate-compare-different-cloud
- What are the best practices for implementing cloud security policies and standards? LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/advice/1/what-best-practices-implementing-cloud
- Cloud Security Technical Reference Architecture. CISA. https://www.cisa.gov/resources-tools/resources/cloud-security-technical-reference-architecture
Frequently Asked Questions
A cloud threat is any cyber-attack that tries to exploit a vulnerability in your cloud infrastructure.
- Access Control and Identity Management
- Encryption and Data Protection
- Vulnerability Scanning and Patch Management
- Zero Trust Security Model
- Cloud-Native Security Solutions
- Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB)
- Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) tools
- Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP)
- Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions for the cloud
- Threat intelligence services
- Cloud-based identity and access management (IAM)
You have to consider your budget constraints, compatibility with your cloud environment, scalability, ease of integration, and reporting and analytics capabilities.
- Employing proper cyber hygiene practices.
- Updating any patches or software.
- Using strong passwords.
- Enabling Multi-Factor Authentication.
- Regularly monitoring your cloud infrastructure.