Posted on Feb 19th, 2021 by Sattwik Gavli

You’ve started your journey—whether yours is a cloud migration story or a story of scale, you’ve begun to move your workloads to the cloud. And, to start, it’s been easy. Everyone knows the speed and agility that cloud promises. But, your environment consists of a little bit on-premise, some in public or private cloud, maybe a mix of Kubernetes and other virtualized technology. Welcome to hybrid...and your hybrid cloud security challenges. 

“Hybrid cloud often includes a combination of public cloud and private cloud, frequently in combination with some on-premise infrastructure.”- Accenture

One of the common trends we’re seeing is that organizations can't meet their business and security goals in a hybrid environment because they are addressing the challenges tactically, rather than holistically. Or they are adopting practices that won’t scale with their changing environments.  
In short, using the same approach in your new cloud deployments is counterproductive. On one hand, the move to cloud is supposed to eliminate the issues of on-prem deployments such as inflexibility and limitations of scale. On the other hand, moving forward with legacy practices is like buying an electric car only to insist on using fuel to power it. This disconnect is often the result of on-prem network security teams working in parallel—rather than in collaboration with — cloud operations and security teams. These silos have made the problems worse as visibility is segmented across functions. For example, if a hybrid application is spread across on-prem and cloud infrastructure, the end-to-end visibility of each connection made by hybrid application components is lost.    

Firewall vendors aren’t helping either. Firewall vendors are proposing an easy, but short-sighted solution to the problem. Their approach suggests adding a firewall agent at every location of the application regardless of whether it is on-prem or cloud. They do offer a control plane to manage these hundreds, and soon thousands, of firewall agents. (Why thousands? Because micro-segmentation means isolating your network components into smaller zones to follow a Zero Trust security model.) Adding thousands of firewall agents not only creates a management nightmare, it can get very expensive, very quickly. The term “vendor lock-in" takes on new meaning.  
There are ways to get around the vendor lock-in without compromising your firewall security, but we’ll get to that shortly. Let’s look at the sheer management requirements of securing thousands of firewalls. The shortage of skilled security personnel has been one of the top challenges for most organizations in recent years. In the latest survey of security professionals by analyst group ESG and ISSA, 70% of security leaders said the security talent shortage has had a noticeable impact on their business. Onto Plan B. You can work with your existing security team on firewall management and train them on the new environment they are expected to secure. Incidentally, the same study cites these top three areas of impact: 

  • increased workload on existing staff
  • inability to fill job openings
  • the need to train inexperienced individuals for critical security roles. 

So, this is where we all agree that hybrid environments can get messy. How, then, do we start to implement a hybrid cloud security strategy that makes sense? 

  • Accept the evolution! Many organizations who struggle with a hybrid cloud security strategy cite “cultural inertia” as one of the major obstacles to overcome. Encourage your organization to embrace cloud technology and recognize the challenges of on-prem deployments can be solved with a hybrid cloud strategy.
  • Redefine the strategy. Focus on securing your entire network rather than seeing cloud security as separate, or an extension of on-prem. This will help you build a holistic strategy for securing your hybrid environment. 
  • Future-proof your investments. Understand that even if you incur some upfront costs for hybrid cloud solutions or security expertise, you are building a foundation that keeps growth and scale in mind. Choose a solution that offers a vendor-agnostic approach. As cloud technology is still evolving — you need to stay agile to adopt the most up-to-date technologies. 
  • Increase collaboration. On-prem network security teams, cloud operations and security teams must work together. Use tools that can provide end-to-end visibility across your hybrid cloud environments- public/private cloud, on-premises. 

With these pointers in mind, you can retain the speed and agility promised by the cloud while securing all of your network. Tools that provide visibility and automation of security policies across multi-vendor, hybrid environments can also help solve some of the challenges of the short-staffed, overworked, and less experienced teams charged with securing it all. When security and network and cloud operations team all share the same view across technologies, efficiencies become measurable with reductions in misconfigurations, manual review times, compliance documentation time and more. Take advantage of the benefits and realities of hybrid cloud without compromise. 

Ready to Take the Next Step?

In fewer than 10 minutes, you can analyze the current state of your hybrid environment for overly permissive rules, risky ports, as well as vulnerable and privileged containers. Your assessment provides:  

  • a downloadable PDF of your security assessment
  • access to your SecureCloud dashboard
  • an analysis of your cloud security posture against CIS benchmarks.

Get your personalized Cloud Security Assessment today.