As cloud computing has become more popular, the “cloud” is no longer a singular thing. Many different companies have entered the space of cloud computing and provide a variety of different services in a variety of different ways. The concept “as a Service” has become common as organizations outsource an increasing amount of their infrastructure. One important distinction in cloud computing is the type of cloud that a particular customer is using. There are public and private clouds, allowing organizations to have single, hybrid, and multi-cloud deployments.
The basis for choosing between these options is two-fold. Certain types of clouds lend themselves to different areas of the business since different providers may have specialized their products for business customers as opposed to developers. Picking one option or the other can impact the organization’s bottom line and efficiency.
However, the choice between these options can also have an effect on security. Research has found that users of a multi-cloud deployment are more likely to have breaches than the other deployment options. As a result, they are even more in need of a good cloud security solution.
Types of Clouds
The number of cloud products available means that cloud customers are presented with a dizzying array of potential options. However, the first decisions to be made are whether to use a public or private cloud and to use a single, hybrid, or multi-cloud deployment model.
Public and Private Clouds
The difference between public and private clouds are exactly what the names suggest. A user of a public cloud is taking advantage of shared services on shared infrastructure. Cloud-based products like Google Drive and Amazon’s AWS are examples of public cloud services. However, organizations can also choose to use a private cloud. In this case, the organization is paying for exclusivity and the additional security that it can provide. Attacks like Rowhammer and RAMbleed have been demonstrated to be capable of bypassing cloud isolation, so, in certain contexts, privacy can be worth the additional cost.
Single, Hybrid, or Multi-cloud
Beyond the choice of public vs. private, customers can choose between a single, hybrid, and multi-cloud deployment. A single cloud deployment is just what it sounds like. The customer takes advantage of a single type of cloud service from a single vendor.
The difference between hybrid and multi-cloud deployments can be a little less obvious. In both of these contexts, the user is taking advantage of multiple cloud offerings, but the two deployments differ.
In a hybrid cloud deployment, the customer is definitely taking advantage of both a public and a private cloud offering. Also, these offerings are typically exhibit a high level of integration. For example, the private cloud component may handle operations regarding sensitive data, the public cloud will deal with less sensitive matters, and the two will communicate back and forth frequently.
In a multi-cloud deployment, a customer may be taking advantage of any number of cloud offerings of varying types, and they may exhibit a lower level of integration. This strategy makes sense when an organization is taking advantage of different services from different vendors in order to optimize different components for different use cases (accounting vs. development) or to avoid vendor lock-in.
The Cloud Security Breakdown
In general, organizations have a lot of difficulty securing the cloud. The different environment and the lower level of visibility and control for the security team, as compared to an on-premises deployment, can lead to security issues. As a result, a large number of data breaches have been caused by failing to properly configure the security settings offered by a cloud services provider.
However, the probability that an organization will experience a data breach is not based solely on whether or not the data is located in the cloud or on-prem. Whether a customer uses a hybrid or a multi-cloud deployment has a significant impact on their probability of a breach.
In fact, multi-cloud users are over twice as likely to experience a data breach than hybrid cloud users at 52% vs. 24%. However, there is no significant difference between the use of a hybrid cloud and a single cloud as both have a 24% probability of experiencing a breach. Not only are multi-cloud users more likely to have a single data breach, they’re also much more likely to have several. 69% of multi-cloud users have reported 11-30 breaches, compared to 19% of single cloud users and only 13% of hybrid cloud customers.
Securing Your Cloud Deployment
Multi-cloud deployments are the most commonly selected option, with 48% of businesses using a multi-cloud approach. However, the design of a multi-cloud deployment also makes an organization much more vulnerable to breaches.
One of the main issues with multi-cloud deployments is that they create an extremely fragmented landscape for the security team to monitor and secure. Each cloud vendor has different security settings, and an organization’s security team needs to determine which cloud holds which types of data, how that data needs to be protected in accordance with data privacy regulations, and how to achieve the necessary level of security within the context of a specific cloud deployment.
The complexity of identifying and securing all of an organization’s footprint in the cloud makes it difficult or impossible to do manually. Especially for multi-cloud users, a cloud security solution that can help to unify cloud management and automate data discovery and protection is a must-have for the organization’s security team.