In 2023, more than 72% of companies shared that they rely on hybrid cloud infrastructures — solutions that combine private and public clouds as well as traditional infrastructure.
Want to scale faster while cutting costs? Combine existing structures or legacy apps with cloud elements? A hybrid cloud is the answer to your needs.
Although a hybrid cloud is a safer option compared to using only public or private clouds, the adoption of the cloud in such a form brings unique challenges.
What are the main security challenges for a complex cloud environment, and what is the role of a WAF solution in modern hybrid cloud environments?
Main Challenges and Risks of Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure
Some of the factors that make hybrid cloud security challenging for organizations that deploy them can include:
- An increased attack surface (paired with lack of visibility)
- Uncovered cloud misconfigurations
- Having to achieve consistent compliance
- Difficult data protection
Attack surfaces (any software that can be targeted by hackers) are growing for businesses that scale and integrate cloud components into their structures.
Besides the complex architecture that modern businesses have to manage today, security teams are up against more cyber threats than ever before. This significantly increases the attack surface.
Without visibility of the entire surface, companies can be open to numerous cyber threats and possible data theft — especially if there are security gaps.
Within an environment that combines public and private clouds, security and data management can get complicated. The unpatched high-risk vulnerability or data compromised within the cloud are bound to happen.
For example, Toyota recently discovered cloud misconfigurations that compromised the information of 2 million vehicles for a decade.
Data leaks are at the heart of cyber incidents when we talk about hybrid clouds. Within the hybrid cloud environment, insecure APIs or mistakes such as errors in the cloud configuration can easily get the data into the wrong hands.
Another part of data security challenges is adhering to compliance laws that are released to safeguard private data.
Since the cloud databases are scattered, and companies combine services from multiple vendors, it can be hard to achieve consistent compliance with vendors that often seek different protocols.
Capabilities of a WAF Solution
Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a cloud-powered cybersecurity solution designed to protect cloud-based web applications from cyber-attacks and apply security and data privacy policies across the entire attack surface.
Some of the functionalities of the WAF solution are:
- Protection of third-party applications to prevent supply chain threats
- Safeguarding cloud-based apps and containers that store sensitive data
- Application Programming Interface (API) security
The final goal of WAF is to guard valuable information that a company stores within the cloud.
By blocking malicious traffic using elaborate rules and methodology that can discriminate between false positives and genuine malicious traffic, WAF stops attacks in the early stages.
WAF is made to accommodate modern environments that still use legacy apps while also deploying the latest cloud solutions provided by versatile cloud vendors.
To detect vulnerabilities or signs of hacking activity early, the tool is automated. It seeks the signs of hacking activity as well as uncovering weaknesses such as misconfigured clouds in real-time.
Within systems that can shift and change in minutes, repairing the flaws on time is essential to prevent major financial harm to the company.
WAF Deployed for Hybrid Cloud Protection
When applied to a hybrid cloud infrastructure, the WAF solution improves the security of website applications. It contributes to the discovery of flaws and hacking activity as well as facilitates compliance.
It analyzes the traffic that is going on between the user and the web application. After that, it blocks or allows traffic based on preset rules. Therefore, it doesn’t allow malicious code or hackers to enter the system.
For instance, it might look closely at the HTTP requests and compare the activity to detect if anything is out of the ordinary for the system or seek patterns that ordinarily appear with known cyber-attacks.
Website applications have to be continually guarded against vulnerabilities that pose both well-documented and zero-day exploits.
There are also well-known flaws that are common for website applications. Some of them are described in OWASP Top 10. WAF covers these known threats but also looks for signs of unwanted activity within the context of the company. It analyzes it all the time.
Compliance is only a part of security, but it has to be met. Whether it’s GDPR or PCI DSS, companies that employ hybrid structures need to adhere to policies that protect data. WAF is designed to automate compliance across the entire cloud environment.
Hybrid cloud infrastructures have recently become the norm rather than an exception. Most companies use this model within their architecture. Now they need to take precautions and protect their virtual databases and applications that are hosted in the cloud.
How can companies that use the combination of private and public clouds increase the safety of their complex modern infrastructure?
WAF is essential for companies that want to improve their security within their infrastructure. The solution automates processes such as compliance, threat hunting, and analytics of the patterns within a specific company.
Even as the company deploys more cloud elements and uses the public cloud, WAF gives them the first line of defense.
For hybrid cloud environments, it can filter malicious traffic, find flaws within the network that could be exploited by threat actors, or help a company meet compliance at all times.
As a result, the company that deploys hybrid structures knows that the data that is stored in the cloud is safe from intruders. And that the ever-growing attack surface is continually investigated to detect a possible flaw or pattern of attack at all times.
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