Secure Data, Wherever it Resides, with Proactive Strategies

In the fast-paced world of cyber threats, data breaches are a relentless force. Cloud environments, experiencing over 39% of breaches in 2022,1 are not immune. Regardless of location, typical adversaries target data through credential theft and lateral movement, followed by vulnerability exploitation.

Well-protected organizations are actively confronting these challenges by instituting good cyber hygiene, or a set of processes to maintain the security of users, devices, data and networks.1 Key capabilities include robust Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies, segmentation of networks and tightening of vulnerability management processes. These are foundational elements in a comprehensive approach to reduce the attack surface and protect data. As organizations navigate the intricacies of securing solutions in cloud environments like Microsoft Azure or Microsoft 365, adopting strategies that enhance cyber hygiene becomes imperative.

In today’s digital world, this is not just an option but essential to safeguard against myriad threats and to ultimately ensure the security and integrity of cloud workloads. Let’s examine how you can address these to secure your operations in a cloud environment with the shared responsibility model in mind.

Multi-layered Defense for a Resilient Cloud Strategy

Securing access privileges has long been a cornerstone of cybersecurity and remains the case in the cloud. This demands tightening IAM policies and procedures, which have historically been fragmented across various tools and platforms.

Indeed, many IT environments have traditionally operated in multiple silos, resulting in numerous sets of credentials and fragmented access controls. The result of this fragmentation has created opportunities for attackers to access an environment from its weakest point of control. To counter this threat, organizations must centralize IAM into a single, comprehensive tool for better control over access management across the organization. Centralizing IAM consolidates control, streamlines access management and reduces the number of credentials.

Furthermore, taking a centralized approach to IAM is a pivotal step to aligning with mature cybersecurity and Zero Trust. This approach can enable the use of principles such as Least Privileged Access, which focuses on providing the minimum viable access based on the IT and security needs of the user, application, or device.

Strengthening Network Segmentation

If an adversary does gain access to an environment via phishing or other means, their impact will be limited by the design of the network. A flat network structure allows bad actors to move laterally and cause extensive damage, as most IT assets reside on a single network. The best way to prevent this is commonly known as network segmentation. By having the different parts of the organization’s network walled off, the intruder’s potential lateral movement is limited.

In cloud environments, micro-segmentation can take security prevention to the next level by utilizing software to segment the network down to individual workloads. This granular approach significantly restricts unauthorized access and movement. Additionally, incorporating virtual networks and firewalls into your cloud environments creates a multi-layered network defense strategy. Virtual networks provide structured isolation, reducing the attack surface, while firewalls focus on safeguarding web applications and what can access them. This multi-layered approach vital for maintaining security for data in a multicloud world.

Evolving Toward Continuous Vulnerability Management

Traditionally, organizations have patched vulnerabilities based on maintenance window availability and in response to critical incidents. However, today’s approach requires a more proactive stance, fixing vulnerabilities on a continuous basis and strategically prioritizing and fortifying defenses against the most critical threats. In doing so, organizations proactively mitigate vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.

A key aspect of proactive vulnerability management includes continuous scans for threats and known vulnerabilities through use of a vulnerability management tool. It’s not just to identify the vulnerabilities though but recommends prioritization of these vulnerabilities based on several factors such as potential impact, exploitability and significance of systems, data, and workloads. This continuous vigilance, coupled with an efficient remediation mechanism will enable organizations to swiftly address security vulnerabilities.

Taking a proactive stance toward vulnerability management will enable organizations to effectively mitigate security threats before they can be exploited—offering a solid foundation in safeguarding critical assets within IT, OT, IoT and cloud environments.

Remain Vigilant and Have a Plan in Place

A robust security strategy must not only operate as a guiding plan but should also remain flexible toward evolving threats. The three elements we’ve discussed—strong Identity and Access Management practices, network segmentation and regular patching of vulnerabilities—form the bedrock of a solid security foundation in the cloud.

Dell has recently announced a range of offers with Microsoft technologies to complement these security practices to help fortify organization. These new services include:

Identity & Endpoint Protection for MS Zero Trust

Implementation Services for Microsoft Azure Network Security

Implementation Services for Microsoft Defender for IoT and Cloud

With Dell Technologies Services, organizations can rely on us to help you with strategic and technology guidance and expertise, advisory and implementation best practices, and provide your organization with the skills you need to enhance your security posture and improve your cyber hygiene.

1 Cloud environments, experiencing over 39% of breaches in 2022, are not immune:

2 Cyber hygiene definition: