The Challenges of Security in a Hybrid Cloud Environment

by Dec 29, 2020

The cloud has made many aspects of a computing environment easier to manage. Things like storage and compute power can simply be scaled up and down to address an enterprise’s current needs. Scaleability removes much of the complexity involved in planning for capacity spikes and negotiating the corporate provisioning process to ensure requirements are met. The ability to scale resources and services is one of the most appealing features of the cloud.

Security is one of the most important areas of focus in enterprise computing systems. Unfortunately, the cloud does not offer the same type of streamlined and simplified method of securing the environment as it does to handle capacity issues. With the spending on public cloud services forecast to grow over 18% in 2021, the lack of robust security is becoming a bigger problem every day. 

Additional Attack Vectors in the Cloud

The preferred method of taking advantage of the cloud is through hybrid solutions that combine elements of an on-premises data center and public cloud services. Even in the most elementary hybrid configuration, the potential areas of concern for the security team double. Each Software as a Service (SaaS) application that a business deploys adds another target for cybercriminals to attack. Organizations that use Infrastructure (IaaS) or Platform (PasS) as a service offerings introduce exponentially more prospective security vulnerabilities.

The majority of organizations are using much more than a single SaaS product. In companies that make use of cloud solutions, employees each interact with an average of eight different SaaS applications. The average number of cloud apps used throughout a company ranges from 40 for small companies to over 200 for organizations with more than a thousand employees. Because of the decentralized nature of cloud procurement where individual business units or departments can obtain dedicated solutions, the complexity of managing application security has the potential to quickly become unwieldy.

Developing a Hybrid Cloud Security Strategy

A robust hybrid cloud security strategy requires a combination of the right security professionals and an overall strategy that addresses three key points. 

  • Hardening application and data security by ensuring all code is bug-free while using encryption and anonymization to protect enterprise information.
  • Employing the right tools in providing the security team with the necessary resources to identify and address vulnerabilities.
  • Adopting a zero-trust model in which all connections to a computing environment are considered to be untrustworthy until proven otherwise. 

These factors need to be kept in mind when securing any IT systems but they are even more important when dealing with hybrid cloud environments. The interconnectedness of cloud and on-premises systems makes each harder to secure than if a single solution was being used. 

Cloud vendors are aware of the issues involved in securing their services. IBM defines seven pillars of a hybrid cloud security strategy that build on the previous key points.

  1. Organizations need to understand that security in the hybrid cloud is a shared responsibility. Customer and provider roles need to be well-defined to eliminate vulnerabilities.
  2. Processes should be standardized wherever possible across all components of the environment to reduce the risk of human errors and security gaps.
  3. Tools and processes should be configured for the cloud and put into automated workflows.
  4. Following the zero-trust security model is imperative as multiple networks and infrastructures make traditional defenses obsolete. 
  5. Access to every virtual system and data resource needs to be independently verified with strong identity access management (IAM).
  6. Visibility into the entire complex hybrid cloud environment is necessary to ensure its security.
  7. Protecting enterprise data using encryption and other techniques is required and will serve as a last line of defense if systems are breached.

With these factors and considerations in mind, let’s take a look at protecting SQL Server databases in a hybrid cloud environment. 

SQL Server Database Security

An organization’s SQL Server databases are one of the places where sensitive data resources are stored. They present inviting targets for cybercriminals or malicious insiders. Security and support teams can attain many benefits from a comprehensive tool designed specifically to protect the important systems and their valuable contents.

SQL Secure is a dedicated SQL Server software security solution that can help identify and resolve risks to enterprise data resources. The tool enables you to see which users have specific permissions and how they were granted. Check for weak passwords before they are used to compromise your systems and identify problem APIs that may allow an attack on your SQL Servers.

Predefined policy templates can be used for self-auditing to identify potential issues and address them proactively. Powerful reporting capabilities can produce customized reports to ensure compliance with data privacy regulations. Security history and baselines are retained so changes can be observed and addressed. DBAs can generate security scorecards that list potential problems and provide the ability to drill down for more detailed information. 

SQL Secure is a perfect solution for hybrid SQL Server environments. It allows your team to use a single interface to monitor all of the physical and virtual SQL Server instances, no matter where they are located. The tool provides visibility into the environment, user management, and process standardization that are recommended as pillars of hybrid cloud security. SQL Secure gives you the necessary tools to protect your valuable SQL Server systems in any type of hybrid cloud implementation.