Best network security approach in the cloud

The importance of having the best network security approach in the cloud can not be understated. The financial damages that result from network breaches are terrible and can knock the lights out of a business. Even the largest and most advanced global enterprises end up finding chinks in their network security armor. For instance, Facebook faced a $1.6 billion fine in Europe for being unable to prevent a security breach that affected 50 million user accounts. The popular ride-hailing service Uber was also fined $148 million back in 2016 for a data breach.

Cybersecurity experts predict that damages resulting from cybercrime will amount to $6 trillion by 2021. Network security needs to upgrade itself in response to ever smarter and increasingly complex cyber-attacks. This post shall look at the best network security approach in the cloud that businesses can consider, including in their cybersecurity arsenal.

Best network security approach in the cloud – Overview:

Cloud networking is a popular IT infrastructure for companies nowadays. 90% of companies are on the cloud. It involves hosting some or all of an enterprise’s network capabilities and resources in a public or private cloud platform.

While cloud networks differ from traditional systems, the former requires as much of a focus on security as the latter. The best network security approach in the cloud involves investing in network hardening to make it as secure as possible.

Security is among the biggest challenges faced by cloud networks (Source: RightScale 2016 State of the Cloud Report)

Network hardening is significant for a business. As the term suggests, it strengthens the network and reduces its vulnerability to cyber-attacks. When an enterprise has secure configurations across all systems, it can minimize the risk to those systems. This, in turn, ensures that the chances of facing a network breach are low. Many breaches are possible simply because a single system brought online by the company was not hardened sufficiently. Thus, complying with hardening standards is necessary to prevent attackers from damaging your network.

We shall now look at three case studies of companies that suffered terrible network breaches this year because of insufficient network security. Neither of these companies needs any introduction. They are, after all, among the most well-known names on the planet. This merely goes to show that when it comes to network breaches, no one is safe. 

Case Study 1: Twitter

Twitter was struck by one of the most serious network breaches in its history on July 15, 2020. Accounts of various eminent personalities like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and former US President Barack Obama were verified and targeted by the attackers.

Of the 130 targeted accounts, the hackers were able to reset the passwords of 45 users. They posted fake tweets from these accounts, offering to send $2000 in exchange for $1000 sent to an unknown Bitcoin address. This scheme allowed them to gain $121,000 through almost 300 transactions.

The network breach was reportedly triggered by a phone spear-phishing attack, which involved misleading certain employees to gain access to the company’s internal systems.

Case Study 2: Zoom

Zoom became one of the most popular tools used all over the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. As an online video conferencing platform, it has been used by everyone from office workers to students to go about their work remotely and remain productive.

However, it wasn’t long before the application became vulnerable to multiple security threats and eventually suffered from a network breach. Early in April 2020, 500,000 stolen Zoom passwords were put up for sale on dark web crime forums. Some login credentials were even sold for as little as less than a cent.

It wasn’t just the login credentials that these hackers stole. Personal meeting URLs and HostKeys of many users were also leaked on the dark web.

Case Study 3: Marriot International

The international hotel chain disclosed a massive security breach on March 31st, 2020 that affected more than 5.2 million of its customers.

Hackers reportedly obtained the login credentials of Marriot employees who had customer information related to the hotel chain’s loyalty scheme. They used this information to access a lot of personal customer data, including name, birth date, contact number, and travel information.

This network breach was conducted through either credential stuffing or phishing.

Best network security approach in the cloud – Best Practices

The biggest takeaway from each of the case studies mentioned above is the importance of boosting the security of cloud networks. There are several components of the best network security approach in the cloud for organizations.

To start with, organizations must integrate cloud-native technologies like the ones found in Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure into their infrastructure. These technologies are not enough on their own. They need to be supported with enterprise-grade traffic control in the cloud and adequate firewall protection.

Additionally, organizations must isolate their networks using either a virtual private cloud (VPC) or a virtual network (VNet). Enterprises can build a dedicated VPC or VNet for the security monitoring components that their traffic must pass through.

Yet another critical component of the best network security approach in the cloud is enabling Flow Logs and sending them to a central storage node, before employing cloud-native tools to analyze traffic patterns as well as cyber-attack attempts.

Finally, organizations can look towards investing in zero-trust access control models that can work both within the cloud and the company’s data center. This gives the company a better defense against popular network attacks such as DDoS, man-in-the-middle, and advanced persistent threats.

Best network security approach in the cloud – Conclusion

Cloud networks can be about as vulnerable to cyber attacks as traditional network models. There is a need for organizations to secure their cloud networks using the best possible approach. Even big businesses like Facebook, Uber, and Yahoo have suffered tremendous losses simply because they could not sufficiently secure their networks. For organizations, the best network security approach in the cloud involves using cloud-native technologies, isolating their networks using VPCs and VNets, analyzing traffic patterns in Flow Logs, and relying on zero-trust access control models.

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