Small and medium enterprises must prioritize cybersecurity as they adopt hybrid cloud solutions. With data breaches costing $3.62 million on average (IBM) and cloud-related incidents spiking 67% (Cybersecurity Ventures), the risks are real.
"SMEs need to take cloud security seriously, or they're putting their businesses at risk," warns Cisco. Following best practices, like layered security controls, is key. "The best way to secure cloud data is to layer security controls," advises Microsoft.
By fortifying cloud and on-premises systems, SMEs can realize the benefits of hybrid cloud while safeguarding their most valuable data and operations.
In this blog post, we explained how to protect sensitive data, mitigate risks, and ensure business continuity with cost-effective solutions.
10 Best Hybrid Cloud Security Techniques for SMEs
As small and medium enterprises (SMEs) increasingly adopt hybrid cloud solutions, robust cybersecurity measures are essential to safeguard critical systems and data.
SMEs have more limited resources than large enterprises, so their security strategy must provide maximum protection while remaining feasible to implement and manage.
The following 10 techniques represent cybersecurity best practices to secure hybrid cloud environments:
1. Encrypt sensitive data
Implement robust encryption to protect sensitive data like customer information, intellectual property, or proprietary business data. Also, use robust algorithms like AES-256 for the encryption of data both at rest and in transit across hybrid cloud components.
Furthermore, properly manage encryption keys to prevent unauthorized access. Encrypt data prior to storing it in cloud applications and storage. Encrypt sensitive data flowing over internal networks as well as WAN connections.
Select encrypted protocols and enable encryption settings for databases, applications, and other systems.
2. Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Reduce the risk of compromised credentials by requiring a second verification factor beyond just a password when users access critical systems and data.
MFA options include biometrics like fingerprints or facial recognition, one-time passcodes sent via SMS or authenticator apps, USB security keys, etc. Prioritize enabling MFA for administrator and privileged accounts.
Also, implement MFA for VPN connections, cloud application access, workstation logins, and any external entry points.
3. Establish a zero-trust model.
Adopt a zero-trust approach, which assumes no users, devices, or workloads are inherently trustworthy. Continuous verification of identities and least privilege access is at the core of zero trust.
Micro-segmentation, data loss prevention, and rights management help prevent lateral movement and unauthorized access. Monitor all user activity and access attempts to uncover anomalies and risky behavior.
Authenticate and authorize users each time they access resources to prevent overprivileged credentials.
4. Disable unused interfaces and protocols
Audit hybrid cloud configurations and explicitly disable or block any unnecessary services, accounts, protocols, software, network ports, or virtual interfaces. This reduces the attack surface that malicious actors can exploit.
For example, disable SMB version 1, limit RDP access only to administrative users, and block outdated TLS versions. Prohibit access to unused ports via ACLs on routers and firewalls. Shut down any unneeded virtual machines or cloud services to minimize exposed infrastructure.
5. Maintain strict access controls.
Implement granular access controls according to the principle of least privilege. Continuously manage and audit user permissions, applying strict policies to grant users only the access required for their role.
Provision of temporary credentials for third parties. Integrate cloud permissions with existing identity governance strategies. Avoid using administrator accounts for routine work. Authorize staff access via group policy rather than individually when possible.
6. Implement network segmentation
Logically segment hybrid cloud environments into discrete networks or sub-networks. Limit communication between segments via tightly controlled security zones, route tables, VLANs, and ACLs.
This helps stop threats from traversing laterally across the network. Define dedicated segments for backend servers, employee workstations, guest Wi-Fi, DMZ hosting, etc.
Micro-segmentation strategies are especially critical for public cloud infrastructure.
7. Keep systems patched and updated.
Consistently apply the latest software patches, application updates, and security configurations to ensure known vulnerabilities are addressed before they can be targeted.
Prioritize patching for internet-facing systems and any software known to be highly targeted, like VPNs, browsers, PDF readers, and Office applications. Automate patching processes via centralized patch management.
Also, update firmware for network devices like routers, switches, and firewalls.
8. Configure security monitoring
Deploy comprehensive monitoring and analytics to maintain visibility and threat detection across hybrid environments from a single pane of glass. Collect and correlate security event logs such as failed login attempts, access denials, policy violations, and scanned network traffic.
Enable alerts for IOCs and known attack patterns. Perform regular log reviews and forensic analysis.
9. Enforce stringent third-party policies.
Extend strict security requirements to third-party providers like cloud service providers, contractors, and vendors. Include cybersecurity standards in contracts, NDAs, and SLAs.
Conduct audits and request evidence of compliance with regulations and protocols. Require notification of any security incidents. Avoid overprivileged third-party access and monitor all activity.
10.Train staff in cybersecurity awareness
Establish ongoing security education to ensure employees at all levels understand their role in protecting the organization. Update staff on cyber risks and train them to spot phishing, social engineering, physical intrusion and other threats.
Ensure everyone understands policies, acceptable use, and password management. Promote a culture of collective responsibility for cyber safety.
1. What is the security of the Hybrid cloud?
Hybrid cloud security protects data, apps, infrastructure, and identities across on-prem and cloud using tools like firewalls, encryption, access controls, vulnerability management, and unified monitoring.
2. What are the security benefits of the hybrid cloud?
Hybrid cloud allows extending on-prem security controls to the cloud, segmenting sensitive assets on-prem while using the public cloud, centralizing security policy enforcement, and leveraging cloud for scalable security tools.
3. What are the Security concerns for hybrid cloud models?
Top hybrid cloud security concerns include visibility gaps across environments, inconsistent data controls, connecting on-prem and cloud networks securely, misconfigured resources, and unauthorized access between environments.
4. What is the role of cloud computing in SMEs?
For SMEs, cloud computing enables affordable, scalable access to advanced IT infrastructure, platforms, and applications without large upfront investment and maintenance costs.
As small and medium enterprises continue embracing the hybrid cloud's scalability and efficiency, they must also elevate cybersecurity as a top priority.
While limited resources pose challenges, SMEs can leverage industry best practices, standards, and training to implement layered controls to secure critical data and infrastructure.
Organizations can significantly harden their defenses with encryption, multi-factor authentication, zero trust, controlled access, network segmentation, and more.
Though threats persist in an increasingly digital world, taking proven steps to fortify cloud and on-premise systems will pay dividends through enhanced resilience and business continuity.
By instilling security into operations, culture, and technology, SMEs can confidently unlock the hybrid cloud's benefits while safeguarding what matters most.