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Cloud Application Security Best Practices

Netanya Carmi - PeerSpot reviewer
Content Manager at PeerSpot (formerly IT Central Station)

What is Cloud Application Security?

Application security involves all the ways in which application vulnerabilities are prevented, detected, and resolved. Not only your networks and your on-premises data need to be secured, but so does any data that your company stores and shares in the cloud.

Not all IT professionals completely understand or agree on how to secure cloud storage. Some rely on their VPN or firewall for security while others believe that the applications they use should come with all the security they need. But don’t be lax and assume your cloud storage is secure. Read up on possibly security threats to cloud applications and how to resolve them.

A man holds a tablet. Above the tablet floats a cloud and a lock and some other symbols, indicating cloud application security

Common Cloud Application Security Threats

1. The single biggest threat to cloud application security is the misconfiguration of the application setup. This is because, when services are exposed to the public internet, data breaches are most likely to occur.

2. Access to your website or server by an unauthorized user is an area for concern because there is no telling what havoc an unauthorized user might cause.

3. Insecure Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) present an easy opportunity for attackers to breach the system due to the fact that these generally have public IP addresses.

4. Account theft is a real concern because so many users are sharing the same devices, which store sensitive resources and data.

5. Denial of Service(DoS)/ Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks

This kind of attack is designed to stream a large amount of traffic to a server or other critical system thus preventing it from being able to respond to legitimate requests.

Best Practices for Securing Cloud Applications

To improve security for your cloud-based systems, follow these best practices:

1. Due Diligence in App Selection. Every time your company decides to use a new cloud application or platform, it’s opening itself up to risk. Your information security team should consider the following every time they select a new app for company use:

a. Check out the reputation of the app developer. Does the developer perform regular updates and patches?
b. Limit excessive permissions. Are the permissions this app requests really necessary?c. Does the app ask you for your credit card information for in-app purchases? Is this strictly necessary
d. How are authentication and encryption handled and what methods are used
e. Check out the app’s user reviews to see what real users think about their experience.

    2. Ensure Hygiene and Visibility. Keep a running inventory of all cloud assets you are using or have used. You need to be aware of what assets you have in order to protect them.

    3. Manage Access and User Behavior. First of all, make sure you have set up and properly configured multi-factor authentication and single sign on. After that, segment the data stored in your application according to which users need access to what information. Additionally, you can reduce your risk of account takeover by putting a block on IP locations. It is a good idea to monitor for abnormal user behavior as well.

    4. Prevent Data Loss. Set up backup, archival, and recovery solutions to avoid possible catastrophic damage by loss of important data.

    5. Automate and remediate. Instead of leaving cloud application security entirely up to your information security team, consider using a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), which will help to automate cloud application security risk detection and remediation. A CASB can be set up to automatically detect malware, phishing threats, improper use of information, abnormal behavior, and more, and then act on its findings by quarantining, deleting, revoking access, or whatever other kind of remediation you set it to do.

    6. Audit and Optimize Configurations. Make sure you audit your cloud security regularly and consistently for errors and/or changes. You can set up your CASB to automatically send you reports so you can keep an eye on risks and trends over time.

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