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Fend off cloud security threats with five quick links

Cyberattacks have been keeping cloud admins awake at night. Get a good night's sleep by reviewing these five quick links for cloud security.

Your cloud is vulnerable and, without proper management, could fall victim to cyberattacks. The best offense against cloud security threats is a good defense -- in the form of a security strategy. But first you need to identify where threats occur. Areas of attack can include cloud APIs, containers and applications, including those created through DevOps.

Luckily, there are technologies and best practices to help thwart off the top cloud security threats. Here are five quick links to get started.

How can I minimize cloud API security risks?

APIs are critical to cloud applications, but they also pose a security risk. To prevent attacks, software developers need to focus on API security. Developers should use sessionless security practices such as HTTP authentication, token-based authentication or Web Services Security, according to this tip from Stephen Bigelow.

In addition, organizations should ensure their APIs perform secondary security checks, as they add an extra layer of protection. API testing allows cloud providers and developers to get into the minds of hackers and see where they are vulnerable. Testing prevents common cloud security threats, such as injection attacks. After weak points are identified and fixed, go to the next level with a comprehensive logging system to monitor for compliance.

Lock down your cloud with a penetration testing plan

One of the best ways to protect your cloud is to think like a criminal – and that can be done through penetration testing. These tests minimize cloud security threats and allow enterprises to pinpoint vulnerabilities, according to this tip from Dan Sullivan.

Since a penetration test looks like a real attack, inform your cloud provider before starting a test. Once the provider has been alerted, begin planning your test by creating an inventory of what to test, such as servers and applications.

APIs are critical to cloud applications, but they also pose a security risk. To prevent attacks, software developers need to focus on API security.

If you are unsure what your weaknesses are or where to start, refer to the Open Web Application Security Project's list of the top 10 security vulnerabilities in Web applications. In addition, tools such as Metasploit or Tinfoil Security's scanning tool can help perform a penetration test.

When building your cloud penetration testing plan, keep in mind that internal threats are just as likely as external threats.

Securing Docker containers should top IT's to-do list

As Docker adoption grows, so do container security concerns. For example, developers can execute multiple container instances, but those containers could have different security patch levels. According to this tip from David Linthicum, new tools and systems are being developed to address container security concerns.

Docker Content Trust, for instance, uses a public key infrastructure to prevent the publication of malicious containers. When securing your containers, read the Docker security benchmark documentation to discover best practices, and think about your unique security needs to select the right tools and approach.

Shadow IT risks heightened in hybrid cloud

Shadow IT creeps into almost every cloud environment, but there can be more risk when dealing with hybrid cloud. With a hybrid cloud workflow, shadow IT SaaS applications can connect to structured applications, which can violate compliance requirements -- a risk Tom Nolle refers to as "bandit hybridization" in this tip.

Bandit hybridization is growing because of the high SaaS adoption rate and the ease with which line departments can circumvent IT. To prevent cloud security threats, perform compliance reviews on all SaaS contracts, services and interfaces. Another way to minimize risks is to let users adopt SaaS applications, as long as those applications don't exchange data or connect to other enterprise apps.

Why your DevOps process should have security baked in

Security shouldn't be an afterthought during the DevOps process; instead, security needs to be systemic to that process. Build security into each step of your app development process and into each part of the application itself, advises David Linthicum in this tip. While it costs more in the beginning, making security part of your DevOps process will pay off through lowered risk and a having a more adaptable security system.

Embed security into the five main phases of DevOps: development, testing, integration, deployment and operations. In addition, developers need to not only design the app to be secure, but operate it in a proactive way. This extra layer of protection can reduce cloud security threats.

Next Steps

A look back at major security breaches and lessons learned

Do you know enough to secure your cloud?

Protect your cloud with this essential security guide

This was last published in January 2016

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