With the increase in the demand for cloud computing services, IT teams are looking forward to multiple platforms that will support the accommodation of diverse cloud workloads. Cloud Workload refers to the programs and applications that users run on the public and private clouds. Virtual machines, databases, containers are a few examples of cloud workloads.
With proper alignment of cloud service with workloads, professionals can enhance the application performance, avoid vendor lock-in, and minimize consumption costs. As a result, a large number of companies are planning to invest in protecting cloud workloads and shifting from on-premises to the cloud. However, it may also lead to various cybersecurity challenges.
Thus, to protect workload data moving between different cloud environments, it is best to use a cloud workload protection platform.
What is a Cloud Workload?
Cloud workloads are all the essential processes and resources that play a key role in supporting and operating an application or service.
No matter how secure your clouds are, protecting cloud operations is also essential.
Today, many businesses use cloud-based services that result in the production of more cloud workloads and an increase in their security risk. Cloud workloads often face distinct security challenges due to their diverse and highly connected architecture.
Misconfigurations, Malware, Container Escape, etc., are a few major security risks that cloud workloads face.
With Cloud workload security solutions, companies can protect their workload data at all times, including during cloud migration operations. These popular protection solutions help businesses in detecting, securing, and managing workloads. Admins get complete visibility and permission to monitor containers, physical and virtual machines, serverless workloads, regardless of location.
As a result, the chances of threats and malware attacks reduce and improve compliance.
Importance of Cloud Workload Protection
Clouds are great for companies who wish for smooth and quick functioning as they are highly distributed, offer speed and scalability. It also increases the workload efficiency.
Workloads carry applications, containers, network resources, and services that help store data and create connections between users and applications. Thus, it is important to manage cloud workloads properly as the applications will not perform well if any workload section is adversely affected.
Also, if your business uses cloud services and is attacked, then all the cloud workloads will compromise and stop working.
Thus, cloud protection is essential. It will help secure all the technologies that underpin your cloud environment from large attacks. Similarly, cloud workload protection is crucial for the business as it secures workloads, containers, and Kubernetes. Also, the protection platforms offer breach protection at all times.
Cloud Workload Security Threats
Here are a few common cloud workload security threats that require proper attention for better functioning:
- Misconfiguration Weak data transfer protocols and misconfiguration in the access management systems are common reasons for cloud data breaches. These minor actions can result in high instances of vulnerabilities and expose workloads to breaches. As per the Divvy report, around 60 percent of cloud data breach instances occur due to misconfigurations. It is recommended to monitor cloud migration issues or configuration fatigue responsible for misconfiguration in most cases.
- Stolen Credentials Most attackers use phishing techniques to steal user credentials and affect cloud workloads. As per the Oracle study, most privileged cloud credentials are compromised by cybercriminals who employ phishing techniques. The only way to overcome these attackers is to pen down the team members who can access sensitive data. Further, the members must be given proper training on how to neglect suspicious emails and attachments that can act as a threat to your business.
- Malware Threats With so much data on the cloud and exposed to public networks, attackers often look for opportunities and make attempts to steal credentials or infect workloads with malware. They use methods like supply chain attacks that help these attackers to hide malware in your workload packages.
- Container Escape: Under this, attackers easily break the container isolation if they are not secured. Further, the threat actors compromise the host running on these machines.
What is a Cloud Workload Protection Platform?
Gartner coined the term Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) for protecting cloud-native workloads. These are popular security tools that play a key role in protecting virtual machines, physical servers, containers, and other cloud infrastructures from cybercriminals. CWPP offers specialized protection to workloads across different environments, reduces complexities, fosters security regardless of the location, etc.
If your organization uses cloud services, we recommend investing in a Cloud workload protection platform to secure workloads and protect them against security threats. These further help IT experts to monitor, detect, and track misconfigurations and vulnerabilities regularly to eliminate online threats.
Features of a Cloud Workload Protection Platform:
- Offers monitoring deployments at runtime and full protection
- Supports bare-metal hypervisor
- Allows workload movement from on-premise to the cloud
- Allows admins to discover and manage workloads in a multi-cloud environment
- Quick response to customer requests
Advantages of Using Cloud Workload Protection
The purpose to design cloud workload protection platforms was to maintain the security of all cloud-based and on-prem workloads. Apart from providing security, the tool has various features and benefits that organizations can use to secure applications, such as:
- Quick and Easy movement of workloads Cloud Workload Protection Platform supports easy integration features. As a result, developers can easily integrate security into DevOps CI/CD pipelines without the additional overhead cost. This further aids in the automatic configuration of secure applications, quick and easy deployments of workloads.
- Offers the Same Level of Flexibility Clouds can scale resources up and down as per the demand. Being a cloud-based security tool, Cloud Workload Protection solutions offer the same features and level of flexibility to organizations concerning applications and workload security.
- Saves on Cost CWPP supports usage-based billing features that help organizations save on overhead costs. Unlike physical appliances in on-prem environments, CWPP is cost-efficient.
- Security Cloud services often face security challenges. Unlike traditional on-prem applications, workloads offer unique security features that fulfill all cloud security requirements. Cloud Workload Protection Platform offers tailored security controls and visibility to cloud workloads. As a result, these security features enable organizations to ward off common security threats.
- More Visibility Developers find it difficult to monitor and manage multi-cloud deployments as they comprise various vendor-specific environments. However, with CWPP, organizations use a single console and can monitor across all environments. For deeper visibility into traffic flows, it also supports network segmentation features. CWPP allows users to track data and threats across all cloud-based and on-prem infrastructure.
- Compliance The security tool has a few data protection regulations for the organization. These regulations are compulsory to implement and include security controls that help protect the crucial information in their possession. With the help of these security controls, the tool will automate the scanning of vulnerabilities and compliance violations.
Challenges of Using Cloud Workload Protection
As discussed above, workload data moves between different cloud environments. The environments are generally safeguarded by multiple vendors, yet it leads cybercriminals to easily find a way and attack or steal credentials. With the help of cloud workload protection solutions, vendors can reduce vulnerabilities that threat actors generally focus on.
Here are a few additional challenges of cloud workload protection:
- Data Breach of sensitive and protected content
- Unprotected application programs and user interfaces
- Insufficient IAM solutions are a great challenge
- Shared technologies such as CPU caches often lead to system vulnerabilities. If the data goes to the wrong source while sharing, all your data will get exposed
- Professional internet hackers use legitimate tenants and techniques like Phishing and social engineering to enter virtual machines and containers
Best Practices for Cloud Workload Security
In this guide, we have discussed a lot about the benefits and challenges that companies face when using Cloud Workload Protection Platforms. But, in this section, we will highlight how to secure workloads in the cloud. Follow some of the best practices for Cloud Workload Security.
- Multi-factor authentication Make use of multi-factor authentication features to keep the cloud workloads secure and safe from unwanted users. It is one of the best practices that help prevent hackers to compromise the account login credentials. Stop relying only on usernames and passwords for protection as they are vulnerable to attack.
- Identity and Access Management (IAM) IAM solutions allow developers to access cloud workloads, user accounts, and roles from a centralized location. This also makes it easier for developers to grant access to team members.
- Use cloud monitoring If you don’t know when, where, and how attackers are making their move, you are always in the danger zone. With cloud monitoring features, developers get more visibility to the cloud environment. Using this practice, you can stay prepared for the threats beforehand and work on fixing blind spots in the cloud environment.
- Make full use of end-to-end encryption With end-to-end encryption, the data remains protected at all times. Attackers find it hard to decode the encrypted data. Thus, use SSL certificates to encrypt data during transmission or at rest.
- Establish baselines With the help of baselines, developers find it easy to differentiate between normal and abnormal activity. Thus, establish baselines to compare data to historical metrics.
- File Integrity Monitoring (FIM) for Cloud Workloads FIM helps discover any unauthorized change made to the files. It allows you to monitor all essential configuration files, critical system files, and content files from a single dashboard. It gives you a complete report on how and when the files got modified.
- Add and Customize Security Alerts With the help of an alert system, you can get immediate notifications whenever a suspicious activity or problem occurs in the cloud workload. Activate and customize the security alert system by assigning levels as per your priority.
- Provide Proper Training to Employees on Security Give proper training to the insiders and team members on cloud workloads. Organizations must conduct training sessions or programs to update employees on the latest features. Also, brief them about the responsibilities and security policies of cloud workloads. You can also conduct a security awareness program for your organizations’ employees.
How CWP is different from CSPM?
CWP platforms and Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) platforms are similar in many ways but have various features that make them distinct from one another. Also, both platforms focus on providing security to cloud data. The main difference is CWP collects data from operating systems, whereas CSPM uses cloud application programming interfaces.
Cloud workloads are essential programs and applications that users run on different clouds to enhance application performance and minimize consumption costs. Virtual machines, databases, containers are a few examples of cloud workloads that allow the movement of data between different cloud environments.
Being on the cloud is risky if you do not take proper measures to protect the data. A large number of businesses are shifting to the cloud for faster and better results. But, there are cybercriminals and threat actors too who are available on the clouds looking for an opportunity. Today, chances of threats and malware attacks are common in the cloud environment.
No matter how secure you feel the clouds are, protecting cloud operations is also essential.
It is where Cloud Workload Protection Platforms come into practice. Misconfigurations, Malware, Container Escape, etc., are a few major security risks for cloud workloads. With the help of CWPP security tools, the business can protect data and secure workloads, containers, and Kubernetes from security threats.
In this guide, we have shared some of the key features of Cloud Workload Protection Platforms and security threats one must monitor at all times.
We have also discussed some of the advantages and challenges of using Cloud Workload Protection. Further, get highlights on how to secure workloads in the cloud using some of the best practices. With proper alignment of cloud service with workloads, you can get better results and improved performance. Thus, we recommend all cloud-based businesses invest in Cloud Workload Protection Platforms to keep cloud workloads secure and safe from cybercriminals at all times.