Cloud and SaaS Security: Mind the Gap

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications and infrastructure providers like AWS and Microsoft Azure have become the norm for organizations large and small. Enhancing cloud security maturity is even more critical given the proliferation of cloud workloads and a chronic shortage of cloud expertise. Instead of achieving the desired digital transformation and cloud optimization, organizations that ignore cloud cybersecurity gaps or underinvest can do more harm than good. Service providers are well-positioned to capitalize on cloud computing and cybersecurity growth as trusted advisors to business decision makers.

Author: Paula Rhea, CISSP, product marketing manager, Netsurion

This article walks through cloud responsibilities, the benefits of comprehensive attack surface protection, cloud security considerations, and how Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) can capitalize on this cloud security opportunity.

The Rising Importance Of Cloud Computing and SaaS Applications

Cloud adoption has gone mainstream, with almost 95% of businesses using the cloud today. Top drivers for cloud use include:

  • Optimization of budgets and IT resources
  • Greater flexibility for work-from-anywhere and mobile devices
  • Increased use of SaaS-based collaboration tools like Salesforce and Atlassian’s Jira

Additional cloud workloads and apps mean sensitive data like Personal Health Information (PHI) and credit card numbers are even more widely dispersed. Organizations need to apply the same rigorous cybersecurity controls, compliance, and threat detection used for on-premises resources to cloud infrastructure. Still, there is often uncertainty regarding cloud security roles and responsibilities, and where to begin.

Who’s Responsible For Cloud Security?

Customers may erroneously believe that their MSSP is responsible for virtually all aspects of IT and network infrastructure and security. Protecting cloud workloads and SaaS applications is a shared responsibility with MSSPs, end customers, and cloud infrastructure providers like AWS. According to the Center for Internet Security, a SaaS provider is solely responsible for host infrastructure, physical security, and network controls. On the other hand, service providers and customers share responsibility for areas such as application-level controls, Identity and Access Management (IAM), and endpoint protection. While it’s a shared responsibility, the end customer ultimately retains full responsibility for protecting their data and managing the risk.

Businesses aren’t the only ones to capitalize on public cloud and pervasive SaaS applications. Cyber criminals have quickly embraced the cloud and know how to exploit cloud and SaaS technology, looking for easy targets like misconfigurations on public-facing websites that are straightforward to attack and monetize.

Comprehensive Visibility Eliminates Blind Spots

Organizations use hundreds of operational tools to manage on-premises and cloud-based workloads and SaaS applications. This fragmented approach creates data siloes and blind spots that can impact security and operational effectiveness. Without end-to-end visibility and control, detecting and remediating threats wherever they reside can take longer and give cyber criminals a foothold into your infrastructure. A holistic approach to security analytics can also overcome another common data challenge: filtering out false positives to get to actionable insights that matter to each organization.

Partner Considerations For Protecting Cloud Workloads

Augment your traditional technologies like anti-virus and help desk support to assess how cloud security can strengthen customer engagement organizations focused on improving cybersecurity maturity. These businesses understand that financially motivated cyber criminals will exploit security gaps, whether on-premises or in the cloud or a hybrid approach.

Look for cloud security solutions that:

  • Enhance agility and flexibility: Cloud infrastructure solutions for AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and SaaS applications like Microsoft 365 have become business critical. While infrastructure providers may offer introductory levels of cloud security, these tools can be complex to learn and manage. Cloud data and assets should have 24/7/365 monitoring and threat detection just like on-premises assets.
  • Optimize threat operations and total cost of ownership: Get up and running fast with cloud security that is an integrated part of a holistic Managed Threat Protection platform. Enable your team to be more effective with a managed solution that embraces cloud instead of complex and expensive siloed software and tools.
  • Integrate people, process, and technology: Technology adoption like cloud computing and SaaS applications are just the tip of the iceberg. Documented procedures and cybersecurity expertise is needed to achieve the transformative advantages of cloud computing and SaaS efficiencies.

The threat landscape has evolved. Investment in cloud security capabilities helps future proof your portfolio and prepare you for emerging areas of customer spend.

Cloud Adoption Creates An Opportunity For MSSPs

As you help organizations embark on or expand their cloud journey, it’s crucial to outline cloud security gaps and how to mitigate them as their trusted advisor. Gartner projects cloud spending growth of 23%. So protecting cloud workloads and SaaS applications demands the same oversight and resources as on-premises assets, albeit with the challenges surrounding a shortage of cybersecurity and cloud experts. To streamline vendor and portfolio complexity, you now have access to comprehensive attack surface coverage for endpoints, data centers, and cloud workloads. Learn more about Netsurion’s Managed Threat Protection with cloud coverage across infrastructure providers such as AWS and Microsoft Azure along with out-of-the-box support for hundreds of SaaS applications.


Author Paula Rhea, CISSP, is product marketing manager, Netsurion, which develops the Managed Threat Protection platform for MSSP and MSP partners. Read more Netsurion guest blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of MSSP Alert’s sponsorship program.

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