The Basics of Cloud Security For SMBs: Zero Trust, CNAAP, and More

As a small business that relies on cloud computing technology, what have you done to prepare for a possible data breach or hacking attempt?

Cloud technology has been a lifesaver for cost-effective scaling, creating more storage on the go, and enabling remote work.

For companies to get the most out of it, it has to be well protected from possible intrusions.

What are some of the most common weaknesses that put the cloud systems and the data within such infrastructures at risk and how do you protect assets that reside within infrastructure?

Here, we go over top cloud security practices as well as how a Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAAP) can help you protect your business.

basics of cloud security for smbs

Flaws That Put the Cloud at Hacking Risk

The most common cloud vulnerabilities that a hacker can exploit within the cloud environment are:

  • Misconfigurations
  • Insecure Application Programming Interface (API)
  • Stolen or leaked data

Mistakes in the configuration of the cloud components (e.g. containers) are common nowadays. Businesses combine cloud technology provided by multiple vendors and migrate their systems — making them complex.

Misconfigurations can be a result of DevOp teams who don’t know how to properly configure the cloud or need more training on the proper practices.

If these errors aren’t fixed, they can present gaps that hackers can exploit to get illicit access to the system, run ransomware, or enable insider threats.

A vulnerable API is one that is publicly available without encryption, lacking authentication, and whose activity is not regularly monitored.

If such a component is discovered by a hacker, it could grant access even if one doesn’t know the exact password and username of any employee.

In the worst-case scenario, insecure API can lead to stolen and leaked sensitive information.

Data protection is at the core of cloud security and it should be a priority.

For instance, cloud storage could be unintentionally and automatically set to public, where anyone can access it.

Code, data, or S3 buckets that can be accessed by the public can also form a major gap in security. They might not have the proper settings or are open for anyone to alter them and access more information.

With that, we’ve just scratched the surface. There is more that can endanger a system that is reliant on the cloud.

According to OWASP’s Top 10 list, other common weaknesses small businesses that use the cloud should know about are injection flaws, improper authentication, gaps in the software supply chain, unencrypted secrets, and integrating the parts with known flaws.

Best Cloud Protection Practices

As a small business that has integrated a cloud into your architecture and wants to protect the premises, start with these cybersecurity practices:

  • Limiting user privileges
  • Introducing zero trust principles
  • Investing in phishing training for team members

By knowing who has access to the cloud at all times, it’s easier to determine whether the compromised access has led to unwanted hacking activity.

For instance, it could be flagged that an employee is using certain parts of the system outside of working hours or accessing the parts of the system they don’t need for work.

To take this a couple of steps further, security can also be set in a way to limit access to the system for employees based on the role they have within the business. In that way, if the hacker obtains their credentials they have limited access to the network as well.

Even more, applying zero trust and not automatically assuming that a person who has credentials is the employee can aid with the detection of the intruder early.

Phishing is still a major vector for threat actors that leads to data breaches. More sophisticated campaigns tend to bypass the security that detects social engineering.

Therefore, awareness training for all teams is still necessary to combat this threat. They should know how to recognize and report phishing.

CNAAP Platform For Cloud Native Workloads

Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAAP) combines several tools that are made specifically to protect the cloud.

Working together and uniting in a single platform under the acronym CNAAP, they can aid security teams to:

  • Uncover errors in the configuration
  • Discover which parts of the cloud need their attention first
  • Achieve compliance

Discovery of misconfigured components is possible with CNAAP — whether we’re talking about errors in the configuration of containers, security, or cloud workloads. It scans the environment at all times to identify any errors in the configuration.

Risk-focused alerts aid security teams to detect and mitigate threats before they turn into damaging data breaches. They’re neatly displayed on the dashboard for teams who have visibility of the entire cloud security at a glance.

The platform uses machine learning to determine if the potential threat that has been detected does indeed present a critical risk in the context of one’s infrastructure.

Another important ability of the CNAAP is that it can aid companies to meet compliance. They automate it and enforce it along with any other security policies that are important for the business.

Staying Secure and On Cloud Nine

All in all, cloud security for small businesses should be all about efficiency and lower costs while protecting the data that is stored within the virtual environment.

As a company with fewer funds, you might not have large security teams that are dedicated to protecting and configuring the cloud.

Regardless, you’re buying and adding cloud components as the need arises because it cuts costs, facilitates telecommuting, and will enable scaling in the future.

Therefore, it’s important to know which are the most common vulnerabilities that could endanger the company and turn this essential asset into a liability.

Even more, it’s important to choose the tools that aid you with the management of the new infrastructure that is growing in complexity and protection of your most valuable assets — such as data.

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Pratik Dholakiya Pratik Dholakiya is the founder of Growfusely, a content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. As a passionate SEO and content marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge in publications like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web, YourStory, and Inc42, to name a few.