This year, as Bonfire Night loomed, I found my thoughts turning to gunpowder, treason, and plot. I began to imagine Mr. Fawkes for the modern age; him and his conspirators illuminated by computer screens in lieu of candlelight. Perhaps they’d be armed with keyboards instead of gunpowder. My imaginary Guy Fawkes of 2018 would certainly opt for a cyber-attack over a physical one.
It’s easy to come to these conclusions: much like today’s cybercriminals, Mr. Fawkes had an eye for a crack in the wall, a small space to slip through, and (almost) cause havoc from within. Unlike today’s cyber criminals, however, he only had to think about breaching physical entities with clear, defined perimeters, which is where the comparisons end.
Gone are the days of physical perimeters, when network security solutions consisted solely of firewalls and antivirus solutions that defended everything in one safe place. It was a simpler time: the more obstacles and security measures in place, the more secure the data was that sat behind them. Easy peasy.
These days, however, anything worth attacking or stealing isn’t in one specific place. It’s housed in any number of locations — thanks to the cloud — far beyond the safety of our traditional security measures.
Up in smoke
Now, I’m not picking a fight with the cloud: it’s forever changed the way the world communicates, collaborates, and conducts business for the better. Cloud integration has improved productivity, streamlined operations, helped combat rising infrastructure costs, and enabled a modern mobile workforce.
But it’s not all toffee apples and hot dogs for everyone. As more and more applications are housed in the cloud, CIOs and IT leaders all over the world have struggled to keep up with — let alone ahead of — these disparate multi-cloud environments. For all its good, the cloud has brought with it a number of security headaches.
The ‘edge’ of the enterprise is in a constant, undefined flux, as remote employees access sensitive cloud applications via laptops, tablets, and mobile devices, causing an unending flow of data that can’t be monitored or controlled by historic security architectures. This has, in turn, left IT teams scratching their heads as they watch company data pass through public clouds, totally outside the jurisdiction of their own security methods, thanks to employees that have come to expect immediate access to cloud-based tools for collaboration, file sharing, and testing — often in direct conflict with an organisation’s security policies.
Taking back control
In order to step back into the driving seat, CIOs and IT leaders must implement a modern perimeter security solution that can go toe-to-toe with their plethora of cloud applications, scaling across a number of locations, applications, premises, and cloud infrastructures. A robust cloud perimeter solution will protect vital data at various access points, regardless of where it is housed or who is trying to access it, and should include:
- Secure authentication: two-factor authentication allows controlled access to vital assets, providing an extra layer of security for logins and ensuring that attempted invasions are stopped in their tracks, long before any damage is done.
- Access control policies: this can help define high-level requirements for deciding and controlling who can access certain information, under what circumstances, and which devices or locations.
- Embedded security services: these can help protect and whitelist devices — from ATMs to automated manufacturing systems — protecting otherwise exposed IoT devices.
- Security intelligence gathering: can help you collect intelligence directly from the applications your business uses and trusts, as well their hosts. Creating open communication lines with cloud service providers can increase security protections. After all, application and service managers understand better than most how to integrate shared security with their systems.
The security perimeter as we know it has changed forever, but it’s still there. It’s just a little trickier to see these days, and can no longer be protected by a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
Just like the way we’re taught to handle bonfires, cloud security should be treated with caution; leave no access point (or fire, for that matter) unattended, create a strong perimeter, and ensure nobody goes where they shouldn’t. This way both your bonfires and cloud environment will be in safe hands.
Photo: Melinda Nagy / Shutterstock.