A growing number of organizations are increasing their use of the cloud.
These workloads, including databases, transactions, and analytics, are vital to business operations.
Cloud workloads are different from regular endpoints which is why security teams need to deploy platforms specifically designed to protect these resources.
It’s no surprise that the cloud now dominates the modern IT infrastructure landscape. More and more workloads are shifting to cloud services, as organizations look to reap the benefits of the cloud computing model. The flip-side of this trend is that cyber criminals also see opportunity and are constantly looking for and finding new ways to exploit weaknesses in the cloud. That means cyber security leaders and teams need to focus on bolstering cloud workload security.
The results of a survey by professional services firm PwC highlight that business leaders across the C-suite are seeing the cloud’s vital role in both defining and achieving their organization’s growth and operational ambitions, and they have high expectations for what the cloud can deliver for their organizations. A majority of executives in the survey (92%), say their companies are “all-in” on the cloud or have adopted it in many parts of the business.
Perhaps the best proof of cloud acceptance among organizations is that they are spending more on cloud services. An April 2021 report by research firm Gartner shows that worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 23% in 2021, totaling $332.3 billion. That’s up from $270 billion in 2020.
The events of 2020, namely the Covid-19 pandemic, allowed CIOs to overcome any reluctance to moving critical workloads from on-premises to the cloud, according to the report. In addition, emerging technologies such as virtualization, containerization, and edge computing are becoming more mainstream and driving additional cloud spending.
A number of key business workloads are suitable for cloud environments. These include database workloads to support a number of business processes; transactional workloads such as billing and order processing; batch workloads to support back-office operations; and analytic workloads to analyze data for business insights.
As more companies become aware of the economics of using the cloud, it’s likely that the workload shift away from on-premises systems will continue. Unfortunately, this also creates a growing number of targets for cyber criminals.
The security issues involved with the cloud are different from those associated with on-premises systems and endpoints. The cloud encompasses a more diverse and highly connected architecture, and much about it is out of an organization’s control. It’s also more dynamic, with machines being created, moved across servers and clouds, and deleted dynamically—sometimes existing just for a few seconds.
Many of the typical endpoint security tools available are not necessarily suited for cloud environments and some of the point solutions that evolved specifically for some of these environments are narrow in scope.
This is why adopting a dedicated cloud workload security platform is important. Such a platform should offer integration between on-premises and cloud services and provide the scalability, visibility, as well as advanced security designed to work within a dynamic cloud environment.
Vendors that can provide cloud and on-premises-based cloud workload security platforms can deliver comprehensive cloud workload protection and posture management to their customers, according to a Forrester Wave report from Forrester Research.
The report, which includes a detailed evaluation of cloud workload security providers, notes that “customer needs in securing workloads are changing. Old-school, on-premises security tooling [for example, security analytics/security information and event management, endpoint detection and response] no longer cut it.”
Organizations today have to monitor and control the proliferation of cloud workloads comprehensively across multiple tiers, Forrester says. When addressing cloud workload security, they should look for platforms that offer features for guest operating system native protection. “Many of the threats in workloads are still traditional changes to configuration files and network intrusions,” the report says.
Security teams need tools that offer memory integrity monitoring, host-based firewalls, and intrusion detection/prevention, and allow for scalable deployment of protection to a large number of workloads without interruption, the study says.
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