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The crux of the problem with cloud security has very little to do with the platforms on which applications are deployed. The real issue is the amount of cybersecurity expertise the people deploying cloud applications don’t have.

Most cloud applications are deployed on platforms provisioned by developers, using tools such as Terraform that enable them manage IT infrastructure as code. This stands in sharp contrast to on-premises IT environments where most infrastructure is provisioned by an IT operations team that usually includes cybersecurity professionals.

The trouble is that relying on IT operations teams to provision infrastructure takes time. Developers have embraced tools such as Terraform to leverage the DevOps practices through which applications are developed and deployed faster. However, those tools appear to be inherently unsafe at any speed. Developers routinely leave ports open that result in catastrophic events such as Amazon S3 storage services being misconfigured.

In fact, a recent survey of 310 cybersecurity professionals conducted by Dimensional Research on behalf of Tripwire, a provider of vulnerability assessment tools, finds 93 percent are concerned about human error causing accidental exposure of their cloud data. Well over a third (37 percent) said their risk management capabilities in the cloud are worse compared with other parts of their environment. However, only 21 percent of organizations assess their overall cloud security posture in real time or near real time.

Similar reports confirm survey results

An analysis of cloud services published by Accurics, a provider of cybersecurity tools for developers, finds misconfigured cloud storage services are commonplace in a stunning 93 percent of the cloud deployments analyzed, with most also having at least one network exposure left wide open. Only 6 percent of cloud configuration issues are being addressed using manual remediation processes, the report finds.

Obviously, there’s a major opportunity for managed services providers (MSPs) to plug that gap. Most internal IT teams don’t have a good handle on what applications have been deployed in the cloud; let alone how secure they might be. Most of them don’t even have access to the tools needed to discover and remediate cloud application security issues.

Now, more than ever before, it makes  economic sense for IT organizations to rely on a service provided by an MSP to address cloud application security issues. In the downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, most IT organizations are not in a position to acquire new skills. And yet, the number of applications being deployed in the cloud continues to accelerate; a fact that most cybercriminals are only going to celebrate.

They say the key to success in business is to discover customer pain points and provide a solution. There are plenty of customers that have run afoul of cloud configuration issues. Most of them still don’t have a repeatable set of processes in place to address the issue. They are, more or less, hoping the problem will one day go away. In reality, the problem exists multiple times over. Cybercriminals don’t often advertise the fact they have managed to compromise misconfigured cloud services until it’s in their best interest.

MSPs that can both discover cloud configuration issues and then remediate them are invaluable. That may require some investment on the part of the MSP to develop that capability, but it’s also clear that configuration issues are only the beginning of what is evolving into what will become a set of best DevSecOps processes around which a practice can be built.

Photo: HongtaeStocker / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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