Cloud Security

Cloud Security Assessment: A Comprehensive Guide 101

As organizations worldwide are adopting cloud computing technologies and migrating to cloud-based infrastructures, it is becoming essential to implement cloud security measures. A Cloud Security Assessment is a practical method of evaluating an organization’s security posture and promotes shared responsibility between the customer and the cloud provider. It involves assessing organizations’ controls and policies to […]

Mansi B.

Written by Mansi B.

August 21, 2023 | 7 min read

As organizations worldwide are adopting cloud computing technologies and migrating to cloud-based infrastructures, it is becoming essential to implement cloud security measures. A Cloud Security Assessment is a practical method of evaluating an organization’s security posture and promotes shared responsibility between the customer and the cloud provider. It involves assessing organizations’ controls and policies to process, store, and encrypt data in transit and at rest.

Organizations that neglect cloud security assessments can face severe consequences beyond data breaches. Cyber crimes are increasing at unprecedented rates, and the cost of not doing a cloud security assessment can become too high when business owners think about the future. Fortunately, cloud security assessments can identify and mitigate risks before they become significant issues.

There are many cloud security posture management tools available in the market. The best cloud providers incorporate strong security practices such as continuous compliance, integrated security, data encryption, and active threat visibility and protection. This guide will cover how to do a Cloud Security Assessment and the importance of implementing cloud security controls and practices. 

Table of Contents

  1. What is Cloud Security?
  2. What Is Cloud Security Assessment?
  3. Why Do You Need a Cloud Security Assessment?
  4. Benefits of Cloud Security Assessments
  5. What is the process of Cloud Security Assessment?
  6. What is the Cloud Security Assessment Checklist?
    1. Step 1 – Identifying Cloud Assets
    2. Step 2 – Data Classification
    3. Step 3 – Identify Threats
    4. Step 4 – Implement Cloud Security Controls
  7. How can PingSafe help in Cloud Security Assessment?
  8. Conclusion

What is Cloud Security?

Cloud security combines technologies and services to protect cloud environments, applications, infrastructures, and assets. The cloud is a global network that allows organizations to collaborate and share resources seamlessly. Cloud security has many loopholes that attackers exploit as vendors do not incorporate security in the application or platform designs by default. There are three types of cloud environments where security measures apply: public, private, and hybrid. 

IT professionals must also address data compliance and governance issues when migrating data from legacy infrastructures to multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments. A cloud security assessment is an essential component of cloud security, and organizations must determine the state of their current cloud security posture with it.

What Is Cloud Security Assessment?

Organizations conduct a Cloud Security Assessment to acquire an overview of the company’s cloud security posture. It identifies and detects several vulnerabilities in these environments, prevents sensitive data leaks, and ensures that data stored on the cloud adheres to industry compliances.

Customers store personally identifiable information, secret design documents, financial records, and other critical details on the cloud. Ensuring optimal cloud security is vital to an organization, so conducting regular cloud security assessments is essential. Maintaining strong cloud security ensures organizations are not susceptible to DDoS attacks, phishing, malware, and other cyber threats.

Why Do You Need a Cloud Security Assessment?

A Cloud Security Assessment is needed because it assures organizations that data stored on the cloud is protected securely. This assessment type pinpoints hidden vulnerabilities often associated with data storage across remote services. Cloud security assessments help organizations discover in what areas they are most vulnerable and provide insights on how to address them effectively. They allow businesses to test and optimize their security configurations for the best performance and results. 

Benefits of Cloud Security Assessments

Cloud security assessment teams can customize configurations and make recommendations based on conducted assessments. It’s important to note that security takes a proactive approach and is an iterative process. The outcome for every cloud security assessment can differ, and results will vary for the following evaluations. 

Here are the main benefits of performing cloud security assessments for organizations: 

  • A cloud security assessment will enable organizations to understand how their sensitive data is processed and shared. It will formulate recommendations for clients regarding network configurations and help implement security measures needed to prevent future data breaches.
  • Companies will learn about the best CSPM solutions while performing these evaluations. They can prevent minor issues from being escalated by addressing them at their roots. Good cloud security assessments ensure faster recovery from business compromises and remediate malicious privileges. 
  • Security monitoring automation is complex, but most organizations will agree that there is a need for conducting external audits. A cloud security assessment includes this, detects cyber threats and ensures that security standards meet industry benchmarks.
  • Cloud security assessments also make it easier for companies to respond to various threats and implement the right risk management policies. It prevents organizations from taking on unnecessary risks, avoids complications, unifies security, and simplifies procedure and risk management.
  • A cloud security assessment scans different attack surfaces, operating systems, privileged access points, applications, and source codebases to find and identify various threats. 
  • It tells organizations everything they need to know about their target systems – including revealing information about individuals who have access to sensitive data and those that don’t but are accessing it using unauthorized practices. Cloud security penetration tests simulate various real-time threat scenarios using multiple methods and techniques, thus helping organizations mitigate potential threats before finding and targeting systems. It also addresses application vulnerabilities and ensures leaders can take appropriate action and quickly respond during data breaches. 
  • Good long-term cloud security boosts brand loyalty, builds reputation, and enhances customer retention rates. Customers are more likely to invest in businesses that incorporate regular cloud security assessments than those that don’t. 

What is the process of Cloud Security Assessment?

A cloud security assessment can prove the effectiveness of implemented security controls and reveal if an organization needs upgrades. It gives insights into data privacy, integrity, access control, network security, and analytics. The results of an assessment can reveal weaknesses and areas of improvement, thus helping organizations create plans to remediate identified threats and other security issues. 

The process of performing a cloud security assessment is as follows: 

  • Identity and Access Management – The organization must authenticate users properly in cloud environments and appropriately verify them before allowing access to any cloud resources. This includes enforcing the practice of creating strong passwords, enabling multi-factor authentication, and implementing role-based access controls that guarantee authorized access to only select individuals on a need-to-know basis.
  • Compliance Management – Modern cloud environments must adhere to legal standards and follow the latest industry regulations like PCI-DSS, NIST, HIPAA, etc. Organizations need to perform continuous compliance monitoring and ensure no policy violations. 
  • Network Security – Firewalling must be applied to all cloud environments. Users must be protected from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, ransomware, phishing, and other security threats. 
  • Disaster Recovery and Backup – Cloud environments should be appropriately configured and well-equipped to handle data breaches. In the event of a security breach, it is imperative to have the necessary security measures installed to ensure business continuity and no downtimes. Business operations should function as intended, with no operational delays.

What is the Cloud Security Assessment Checklist?

Before conducting a cloud security assessment, gathering relevant details from the cloud environment and matching the checklist is essential. A

A cloud security assessment checklist consists of action items organizations must implement to evaluate their controls, policies, and assets. It consists of the following steps:

Step 1 – Identifying Cloud Assets

The first step of the cloud security assessment checklist is identifying various cloud resources and assets. It includes financial records, customer data, trade secrets, and other company details. All data stored on the cloud, including hidden assets, is identified to prepare for threats and protect against them. 

Step 2 – Data Classification

The discovered data is classified and assigned risk levels accordingly. Organizations categorize data and give priority levels to them. The most critical data or “high-risk” assets are prioritized, while minor risk data is provided with less importance. 

Step 3 – Identify Threats

The cloud threat landscape is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and it’s crucial to identify both internal and external threats. External threats comprise mainly hackers, while internal threats are malicious insiders.

Organizations must perform thorough testing, double-check cloud configurations, and conduct penetration tests alongside security audits. Running simulation attacks using various cloud security assessment tools will identify potential and unknown attack vectors, minimize the scope of attack surfaces, and reduce risks. It also helps organizations understand data breaches from the mindset of adversaries and know how to act to prevent their next move.

Step 4 – Implement Cloud Security Controls

Once organizations have mapped out relevant risks and identified cloud security threats, they can implement the necessary remediation controls. These include firewalls, encryption, technical management, and incident response planning. Organizations will enable continuous monitoring of cloud data, update patch configurations, and re-evaluate their existing cloud security strategy too in the process. They will also limit access control privileges for unauthorized users and implement the principle of least privilege for all cloud accounts in networks.

How can PingSafe help in Cloud Security Assessment?

PingSafe can help in Cloud Security Assessment by offering a comprehensive Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) for securing cloud VMs, serverless functions, and containers. It enforces shift-left security and automatically detects and remediates misconfigurations before deployment by leveraging its Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) framework. PingSafe delivers a cutting-edge Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) which offers a host of features such as agentless vulnerability management, Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM), Infrastructure as Code (IaC) Security, and Cloud Detection and Response (CDR) feature which empowers organizations with real-time threat discovery, investigation, and remediation.

It also supports the real-time scanning of hardcoded and embedded secrets for more than 800+ types in GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket, and many others. PingSafe also provides continuous cloud compliance management and supports over 20+ global industry standards like PCI-DSS, NIST, HIPAA, ISO 27001, etc.

Conclusion

Organizations can improve cloud security measures and enhance protection by conducting periodic assessments. A good Cloud Security Assessment simplifies data governance and compliance and ensures that organizations satisfy even the most demanding global compliance and privacy requirements. It guides companies in the right direction and sets the foundation for the future.

By securing content migration and storage and implementing safer signature management practices after careful analysis, businesses can prevent critical operations from getting compromised, thus ensuring business continuity, building a good reputation with clients, and acquiring success in the industry throughout their journeys.