Why Application Security Management And Cloud Automation Top My 2023 To-Do List?
Guest author: Mike Privette, VP of Information & Cyber Security at Passport
I’ve been asked by a number of people lately what I’ll be focusing on in 2023.
For me, there are two key areas:
- Application security management
- Automating cloud-based security and infrastructure
For many, managing these two areas is most straightforward with Cyber Risk Management software.
Living and working ‘in the cloud’ has become the norm. Cloud-based computing has made it possible for organizations to store vast amounts of data safely and securely, without the need for costly on-premise servers. However, as technology evolves, so do the techniques of cybercriminals. This means it’s more important than ever to ensure you have robust security measures in place to protect your applications and infrastructure.
Why application security management?
Well, with millions of us working remotely, functioning in the cloud has become a normal part of everyday business for many organizations.
Applications such as Microsoft Office 365, Google Workspace and Zoom are now our go-to collaboration tools. Although they help us to stay connected to clients and colleagues, they also present an ever-increasing number of security threats.
Before the pandemic, most people connected to a corporate network from within their office, which meant that high-level firewalls and other layers of security protected sensitive data, files, and servers.
However, with more remote working came rapid digital transformation.
Suddenly businesses were forced to fast-track cloud migration and enable workers to access networks from home with VPNs, which opened a whole new world of vulnerabilities.
It’s all about refining and improving processes. If you know what the threat is, you can put preventative measures in place.
How can you improve your application security management?
Managing the security of cloud-based applications can be complex, especially with the move to the public cloud and the development of collaboration tools that facilitate high volumes of traffic. Traditional security measures no longer provide adequate protection.
So, what steps can your organization take to improve its application security management?
Here are some of my top suggestions:
- Perform mobile application penetration testing – A good starting point to improve application security management is performing specific penetration testing. This will not only enable you to identify any vulnerabilities at server and application level, but also suggest appropriate fixes. The testing combines static and dynamic analysis of any particular application.
- Application code security – App code is the foundation of any application. If it’s not secure, then the risk of being hacked is extremely high. It’s integral that any applications installed on your device are encrypted and can be portable across different devices and operating systems. Without this basic level of security, your organization and employees are at risk of being targeted by hackers.
- Strengthen authentication – It sounds simple, but strong passwords prevent hacks. Using a higher level of authentication is an extremely effective way of improving application security management. Encourage users to create passwords combining numbers, upper and lower-case letters, and special symbols. Also ensure that two-factor authentication is activated. For businesses with multiple domain users, conduct an audit to detect weak passwords.
- Implement cloud-based security products – Arguably the biggest challenge facing organizations when it comes to implementing adequate security measures is a lack of resources. A solution to this lies in implementing SaaS-based security products. They don’t require vast amounts of staff to install or deploy them, and there is no need for large-scale investment. Hosting your security in the cloud could also have a significant impact on your bottom line.
It’s time to move away from traditional security methods and adapt to an ever-evolving threat landscape.
Why automate cloud-based security and infrastructure?
Automating certain processes via the cloud enables organizations to develop, deploy and scale cloud applications at speed, as well as reduce risk and keep better control on costs.
It’s not a pain-free process and will require detailed planning, but when done correctly it means that complex, lengthy tasks can now be completed at the touch of a button. IT and development teams will have the ability to create and modify applications or processes automatically.
Monitoring and securing different manually controlled cloud-based systems can be a challenge, especially as it significantly increases the risk of human error. However, cloud automation can help configure firewalls, access points, and networks to address any errors that may have caused insecurities within an infrastructure.
Incorporating certain automated processes into your IT workflow means a reduction in misconfigurations, a more resilient network, and accelerated compliance.
Processes that can be automated include:
- Authentication and authorization – Leverage cloud-based directory services to manage and control user access to sensitive data
- Endpoint security – Deploy automatic threat detection tools to monitor the cloud environment and automate processes
- Network and infrastructure – Automate network provisioning and connectivity to maintain good security and functionality
Automating cloud security processes allows you to focus on innovation and growth.
Rapid digital transformation means many organizations now rely on cloud-based infrastructure, which has become central to their day-to-day processes. By automating a number of these processes, you can avoid misconfigurations, reduce the risk of human error, keep IT costs down, and improve efficiency across multiple areas of your business.
But how do you choose what to automate, and what not to automate?
Here are my three key recommendations:
- Infrastructure as Code (IAC) – This automates the provisioning of IT infrastructure and will help your organization develop and deploy cloud apps with greater speed, minimal risk, and reduced cost
- Containers – A common operational model for many cloud-native apps across public, private and hybrid cloud, containers allow for the automation, management and scaling of apps
- DevOps – Limit the amount of manual intervention needed in processes by using automation tools within DevOps. This allows app updates to be deployed faster and won’t impact your deadlines
Automation removes the need for time-consuming manual tasks and allows engineers to focus on their actual job.
Technology is changing, and so is the approach of cybercriminals. What was once accepted as the best form of security is no longer fit for purpose. Organizations need to adapt and adopt methods that take these new attack methods into account.
Today’s world is powered by the cloud and remote working, so ensuring you have high-level application security management and cloud automation in place should be top of your list of priorities for 2023 and beyond.
To hear more from Mike Privette, check out this episode of our Capability-Centric GRC & Cyber Security podcast, where we discuss the challenges of managing cybersecurity and compliance threats for government service providers.
If you want to learn more about how SureCloud can help you with Application Security Management and Cloud Automation, contact one of our GRC experts.