Cyber Resilience

Why Traditional Cloud Security Is Failing — And 5 Strategies To Fix It

In the past, traditional networks and their security have been described as castles with high walls and deep moats. Everything valuable was stored inside the castle and secured against intruders.  

But what happens when the castle grows into a sprawling city with many different buildings, some owned, some rented, and some shared?  

This is what makes the cloud so challenging to secure. Data and applications quickly spin up and down and move between different parts of the network. This fluidity blurs the boundaries of the network, making it hard to define where the perimeter is – and ensure consistent security.

Learn why traditional security tools can’t provide the flexible, consistent security needed in the cloud and five strategies to build modern cloud security.  

The problem with traditional network security in the cloud

Black and white clouds

When networks have a clearly defined perimeter, it makes sense to focus on preventing attacks. Security teams put tools such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus software at the network perimeter to keep threats out.  

Traditional security tools are designed to protect a fixed perimeter, often only from known threats. They assume that everything inside the perimeter is safe and everything outside is potentially dangerous.  

But in a cloud environment with no clear boundaries – and attackers taking advantage of the fast changing, organic nature of the cloud leveraging exploits as brazen as stolen credentials or as sophisticated as unknown vulnerabilities – this approach doesn't work for two reasons:

1. The cloud creates perimeter-less networks

Many organizations have hybrid, multi-cloud networks where perimeter boundaries are blurred. Data and applications move within, between, and across environments constantly.  

For example, a financial services company might use a public cloud to analyze data for a short time. The data moves from the company’s main data center to the public cloud and then back again. Security tools that are only at the company’s data center can't protect the data while it's moving or stored temporarily in the public cloud. This makes the data more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

2. The cloud is always changing

Cloud instances like virtual machines (VMs) can spin up and down in just a few moments. For instance, an e-commerce site may need to scale up its resources during a holiday sale and scale down afterward. This scaling can happen in minutes – and is the reason why the cloud offers so many benefits for companies. But it also adds another layer of complexity to security.

Read our guide to learn more about cloud security challenges.

Modern cloud security is flexible and consistent

The flexible, fast-paced nature of the cloud makes it nearly impossible for perimeter-based security tools to keep up. Conventional tools that enforce security policies only at the network perimeter leave security gaps in the cloud.  

The cloud needs security that is separate from the network structure. This means security policies should be in sync with workloads as they move across different environments. It also means being aware of the possibility that cyberattacks will happen in the cloud and proactively preparing for them.

This allows us to reimagine the old “castle and moat” cybersecurity narrative. Today’s security is more like a security guard who follows valuables wherever they go – whether they’re inside the castle or somewhere else.  

There are several benefits to this way of thinking about modern cybersecurity:

  • It gets security as close to data and applications as possible no matter where they are or where they’re going. This gets rid of security siloes between different environments or cloud service providers.
  • It doesn’t assume any part of the network is automatically safe and trusted. This aligns with a Zero Trust approach.
  • It gives better visibility into how data and apps move and communicate. This helps security teams make sure security measures are correct, consistent across the network, and compliant with any regulations.

5 strategies for building modern cloud security

The cloud will only keep changing, and we need security strategies that can keep up. Here are five key strategies organizations can use build better cloud security:

1. Automated security

Your cloud security tools shouldn’t work in siloes. It’s important that they can integrate with each other to compound their benefits.

For example, with the Wiz and Illumio integration, organizations can quickly identify vulnerabilities and proactively apply controls to close security gaps and contain active attacks.

By automating cloud security, you can proactively prepare for attacks, respond to incidents more quickly, and ensure that security keep pace with changes in the cloud.

2. One platform, many environments

Using a unified security platform like Illumio that works across cloud, endpoint, and data center environments provides a more complete view of the entire network. This makes it easier to manage security policies, maintain consistency, and improve overall security posture.

3. Understanding risk that leads to exposure

When applications are deployed in the cloud, using Zero Trust Segmentation security teams can monitor the behavior of workloads as they interact across a business’s network to understand risk. This provides insights into how applications work, how users connect with different systems, and unnecessary connections that present risk.

4. Zero Trust

Zero Trust is a cybersecurity model that assumes no part of the network is inherently trustworthy – “never trust, always verify.” This drives a least-privilege approach to building security controls. A Zero Trust approach is well-suited for cloud environments where the perimeter is constantly shifting.

5. Zero Trust Segmentation

Zero Trust Segmentation (ZTS) is an essential part of Zero Trust; you can't achieve Zero Trust without it.

Unlike traditional security tools that only detect and prevent attacks, ZTS provides a consistent approach to microsegmentation across the hybrid, multi-cloud attack surface. This lets you understand risks, set proactive security controls, and stop the spread of ransomware and breaches across the hybrid multi-cloud.

Illumio CloudSecure: Overcoming the cloud’s biggest security challenges

The cloud offers incredible benefits, but it also introduces new security challenges. Traditional perimeter-based security models are no longer effective in the dynamic, perimeter-less world of the cloud.  

To keep data and applications secure, organizations need to use new security strategies like Zero Trust Segmentation that are flexible, consistent, and capable of keeping up with the cloud.

Illumio CloudSecure extends Zero Trust Segmentation to the cloud:

  • End-to-end cloud visibility: See cloud traffic flows, resources, and metadata.
  • Proactively prepare for cloud attacks: Build and test security controls using workload labels and IP addresses. Create trusted communication between applications.
  • Contain cloud attacks: Stop attackers from spreading through the network by adapting segmentation policies in real time, even in ever-changing cloud environments.

The journey to secure cloud environments is ongoing. But with the right strategies and tools, organizations can navigate the challenges successfully.

Test drive Illumio CloudSecure. Start your free 30-day trial now.

Related topics

Related articles

Our Favorite Zero Trust Stories from January 2024
Cyber Resilience

Our Favorite Zero Trust Stories from January 2024

Get a summary of this month's Zero Trust news, including why building resilient and trust will be a critical business benchmark in 2024.

Top Cloud Security False Assumptions That Create Needless Risk
Cyber Resilience

Top Cloud Security False Assumptions That Create Needless Risk

It’s been 15 years since Amazon Web Services launched the first cloud infrastructure platform.

Top Cybersecurity News Stories From February 2024
Cyber Resilience

Top Cybersecurity News Stories From February 2024

Organizations across both the public and private sectors continue to prioritize implementation of cloud security best practices like Zero Trust.

Is Your Cloud Vendor’s Cybersecurity Enough?
Zero Trust Segmentation

Is Your Cloud Vendor’s Cybersecurity Enough?

Find out why you can't rely only on your cloud provider's security alone to keep your cloud safe from cyberattacks.

Zero Trust Segmentation Is Critical for Cloud Resilience
Zero Trust Segmentation

Zero Trust Segmentation Is Critical for Cloud Resilience

Cloud resilience starts with Zero Trust. Learn the top three cloud issues solved by Zero Trust Segmentation, as shared by ZTS creator John Kindervag.

Why 93% of Security Leaders Say Cloud Security Requires Zero Trust Segmentation
Zero Trust Segmentation

Why 93% of Security Leaders Say Cloud Security Requires Zero Trust Segmentation

Get insight from new research on the current state of cloud security and why Zero Trust Segmentation is the key to cloud resilience.

Assume Breach.
Minimize Impact.
Increase Resilience.

Ready to learn more about Zero Trust Segmentation?