Multi-cloud security is a combination of strategies and technologies that protect data, applications and infrastructure from cyberattacks. It addresses the challenges that come with hosting assets and workloads across multiple cloud providers and environments.
As organizations accelerate their journey to distributed multi-cloud environments and cloud-native applications, they must prioritize security. While the agility, flexibility and scale of multi-cloud environments enables new business opportunities, it also increases complexity and security challenges. Complete visibility into all workloads with detailed system context is key. Data must be consistently protected, and inter-cloud communications secured.
Another reason to prioritize multi-cloud security: Cybercriminals are evolving with the increased popularity of cloud environments. Multi-cloud architecture offers more points of entry for bad actors. The scale of data center infrastructure makes it easy for criminals to penetrate vulnerable servers and cause disruptive lateral movements. In the VMware 2022 Multi-Cloud Maturity Index, respondents cited increased cybersecurity risks as the number-one challenge associated with multi-cloud, at 35%.
To get ahead of threats, organizations require modern security solutions that are both powerful and easy to operationalize. With certain multi-cloud security approaches, organizations can segment and sequester data as needed, and design more tailored cybersecurity strategies.
Multi-cloud security uses a number of strategies to stop criminal activity:
- East-west security monitors network traffic moving laterally to bring awareness to threats. Respondents in the VMware 2022 Global Incident Response Threat Report said instances of lateral movement appeared in 25% of all attacks. Enterprises recognize that attackers will inevitably breach a perimeter, so the focus must be on blocking lateral movement following an initial breach.
- Zero trust restricts access to IT resources using identity and device verification.
- Internal firewalls protect a multi-cloud environment from attacks that have gotten past the perimeter.
- Micro-segmentation enables security architects to divide a data center into distinct security segments and define security controls and deliver services for each segment, allowing for flexible security policies.
Other strategies include automated threat intelligence, container security, and consistent policies across environments and workloads.
Benefits of using multi-cloud security include the following:
- Data protection: Customer and internal data can remain protected across multiple cloud environments.
- Diversity of approaches: Effective multi-cloud security can employ various strategies and tools, and cloud providers can tailor options to your specific needs, all of which helps to avoid vendor lock-in.
- Visibility: Multi-cloud security helps you eliminate blind spots in network traffic with a unified view of security events across all cloud environments, enabling rapid response to threats.
- Redundancy: With multi-cloud security, your workloads will remain protected and accessible through other cloud providers, even if one cloud provider experiences a security breach.
When considering multi-cloud security, here are four best practices to keep in mind:
- Logically separate networks: Using micro-segmentation to logically separate networks is a critical strategy. Dividing the network into isolated segments, each with its own access controls and security policies, prevents lateral movement of malware within a multi-cloud environment. If a security breach happens, the effects are limited to one segment, minimizing potential damage. By defining access rules, micro-segmentation provides control over network traffic.
- Configure firewalls: Configure internal and perimeter firewalls strategically within your multi-cloud environment. Internal firewalls should segregate data within different segments of your cloud infrastructure to restrict unauthorized lateral movement. Perimeter firewalls play a crucial role in protecting your cloud environment from external threats. These firewalls enable authorized users to access data while simultaneously blocking access attempts from threatening IP addresses. They act as a frontline defense against cybercriminals, enhancing the overall security of your multi-cloud environment.
- Inspect east-west traffic: Thoroughly inspect east-west traffic, especially between different segments, to detect abnormalities in encrypted traffic. Cybercriminals often attempt to hide their activities within encrypted communication. By implementing inspection mechanisms, you can decrypt, analyze and re-encrypt the traffic, allowing security solutions to identify potential threats. By continuously monitoring east-west traffic for suspicious activity, you can detect potential threats before they escalate.
- Inspect north-south traffic: Inspecting north-south traffic is also an important first line of defense against external threats. This approach detects malicious command and control (C&C) traffic controlled by cybercriminals. By monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic, your security systems can block any attempt to use a C&C server, preventing data breaches and boosting incident response.
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Simplify multi-cloud security with VMware Cross-Cloud services