enabling segmentation for multicloud enterprises

What is Hybrid Cloud Security?

Today, many companies are moving applications to the cloud or multiple clouds. The cost and speed benefits of doing so are undeniable. However, the increased complexity can create security challenges that are difficult to manage with legacy solutions or native cloud security offerings, especially in hybrid cloud environments.

Tools like hybrid firewalls simply cannot keep up with the speed of change in today’s cloud infrastructure. They also do not provide adequate security controls, such as granular segmentation, necessary for stopping unauthorized activity – all key parts of a comprehensive hybrid cloud security solution.

Native cloud security tools are also inadequate for hybrid IT since each has its own security standards, and none provides a cross-platform view of communications. Using native features to manage security across multiple environments dramatically increases the time needed to configure policies. Also, the lack of visibility caused by leveraging limited textual logs leads to organizations setting over-permissive policies, introducing unnecessary risk.

When you lack visibility, even the process of creating policies takes an extremely long time because you need to rely on application owners and partial knowledge instead of complete data. The resulting policies are often not reliably effective because they are built based on incomplete and inaccurate records.

Guardicore’s approach to hybrid cloud security

Guardicore Centra’s hybrid cloud approach gives you full visibility into all workloads, on-premises and in the cloud. With this capability, you can quickly understand dependencies and required flows between applications. The platform also provides strong filtering and grouping capabilities. The unified interface enables you to view flow, user, process, command line, and more, unlike security groups that only let you set an L4-based whitelist.

With an understanding of your current network security posture, you can easily build a single, secure set of hybrid cloud security controls that are effective and not too permissive. 

These detailed insights combined with Centra’s AI-powered hybrid cloud policy workflows allow even the smallest teams to quickly and intuitively create segmentation policies that follow workloads and applications across all environments.

Centra maps contain process-level information across all clouds, storing that visibility data for months. You can easily see how your cloud security processes work, make data-driven policy decisions, and better handle security operations, incident response, and forensic analysis.

The platform also provides you with breach detection and response capabilities, completing your security solution and enabling you to keep a bad actor’s impact on your organization to a minimum.

See Guardicore’s hybrid cloud solution

Hybrid cloud security FAQ

How can I build a hybrid cloud security policy?

 There are a number of steps to follow to build a hybrid cloud security policy:

  1. Be clear about your policy’s business and security objectives. A smart micro-segmentation policy enables you to enforce a strong security policy without compromising your communications or business goals.
  2. Use Guardicore Centra to gain visibility of your environment. This will enable you to understand your application dependencies and flows within your architecture as a whole.
  3. Use a flexible schema to create labels – snippets of metadata attached to and providing context about a workload (e.g., labeling a server as “environment – production” or “application – SWIFT”). These dynamic, meaningful parameters allow you to create policies that fit your organizational needs.
  4. Consider the controls your business and teams need so that you can set the right policy enforcement levels. Guardicore enables you to start with global, high-level rules and then add layers, increasing your policies’ granularity.
  5. Decide which rules should apply to large segments, such as only allowing the sales staff to access the sales applications, allowing DNS to resolve through an internal, secure DNS cluster, or keeping the production environment separate from the test environment.
  6. Define which “block” and “allow” rules you need within your policy. With Guardicore, you can combine allow and block rules within the same policy.

For more information about building and enforcing policies, check out this blog post: Policy Enforcement Essentials for your Micro-Segmentation Strategy Policy.

What is the difference between hybrid cloud and multi-cloud?

Sometimes you hear the phrases “hybrid cloud” and “multi-cloud” used interchangeably. That said, they do have different meanings.

A hybrid cloud environment is one in which a business utilizes both on-premises and cloud applications or technologies. A multi-cloud environment employs solutions from more than one cloud vendor (e.g., using both Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud).

A hybrid cloud environment can also be a multi-cloud environment, but it doesn’t have to be. By the same token, a multi-cloud environment can be cloud-only, with nothing on-premises. However, the reality is that most businesses today work with a mix of on-premise and cloud solutions, keeping some data and applications in-house for reasons such as compliance, security, or cost.

What are the main challenges of hybrid cloud security?

The main challenges of hybrid cloud security include the following:

  • Ensuring fast time to policy – With Guardicore, you get in-depth visibility that includes application dependencies and access to AI-powered segmentation templates. This drastically speeds the process of segmentation policy creation.
  • Avoiding network misconfigurations – Comprehensive visibility of your entire network allows you to avoid time-consuming misconfigurations that can disrupt business operations and cause security issues.
  • Implementing strong security policies – Software-based segmentation empowers you to easily develop security policies that minimize risk and limit unauthorized lateral movement. Guardicore also provides breach detection and response features to enable you to discover and stop bad actors quickly. This lets you stop issues in their tracks, avoid costly data breaches, and analyze what happened with in-depth forensic data.
  • Achieving desired operational value – Don’t let security bog you down. Instead, make a point to integrate security into your DevOps cycle. From accelerating migration to adjusting permissions through using granular controls to support your zero trust architecture and compliance frameworks, Guardicore has got you covered.
  • Making sure visibility and security are consistent across the entire environment – Because Guardicore’s visibility is platform-agnostic and policies follow workloads across all environments, you can use a single tool for your entire hybrid cloud security needs.

Why are cloud security groups not enough?

Segmenting applications using cloud security groups has its limitations. Typically, they support only Layer 4 traffic, ports, and IPs. To benefit from application-aware security capabilities in the cloud, you need an additional set of controls from a solution like Guardicore Centra.

Security groups often restrict you to creating policies within a single virtual private cloud (VPC) or vNet and a specific cloud region or vendor. If you have a multi-VPC or a multi-region cloud setup, you will need an additional solution to set policies between VPCs – and those policies won’t be application-aware.

Similarly, if you have a multi-cloud or on-premises environment to secure, you often need to use multiple solutions for each. This increases the total cost of ownership (TCO), time to policy, and dramatically and adds to solution complexity.

The primary function that cloud security groups should provide is network separation. They can be best compared to what VLANs provide on-premises or access-control list (ACL) on switches and endpoint firewalls. Unfortunately, like VLANs, ACLs, and endpoint firewalls, cloud security groups have similar challenges and limitations. This makes them complex, expensive, and ineffective for hybrid network segmentation.

Cloud security groups also don’t support the granular visualization of application dependencies required to create application-aware policies and implement micro-segmentation projects. They definitely don’t cut it if your application dependencies cross regions within the same cloud provider or between clouds and on-premises.

What is the shared responsibility model?

The three leading public cloud providers – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform – all use the shared responsibility model. In this model, cloud providers manage the infrastructure, while you, the customer, are fully responsible for protecting data, access management, and network and firewall configuration.

Each enterprise has its own unique needs in terms of governance, SLA requirements, and security overall. In a multi-cloud environment, staying on top of this can be complicated. If you have specific regulatory or industry needs, you will need to be doubly sure that you can consistently control your workloads and communication flows. However, when moving workloads into the cloud, customers often sacrifice visibility and control in the new environment, exactly where they need that insight and protection the most.

Is hybrid cloud security different for Amazon Web Services?

As part of the AWS shared responsibility model, using AWS workloads in the cloud or on-premises means taking responsibility for the security configurations protecting your applications and traffic. This includes ways to protect and monitor both North-south and East-west network traffic and controls to detect, prevent, and respond to breaches.

For security controls in a hybrid cloud environment that uses AWS, your solution must support AWS on the cloud and via AWS Outposts on-premises, as well as hybrid-cloud workloads. Organizations utilizing a shared cloud deployment model and dynamic application deployment models required to leverage edge computing growth should expect new challenges.

Additionally, the same advantages that make AWS environments operationally attractive can reduce control and visibility over assets spread across multiple AWS accounts, VPCs and network security groups, and an organization’s broader hybrid ecosystem.

The bottom line is that AWS leaves the following core cloud workload protection controls ultimately to the responsibility of its customers:

  • Network firewalls/segmentation
  • Network visibility
  • Application control and whitelisting
  • System integrity monitoring and management
  • Hardening, configuration, and vulnerability management

Guardicore Centra addresses these issues by providing an end-to-end solution that protects AWS instances. In this way, DevOps and security teams can focus resources on core tasks instead of data center security management.

Is hybrid cloud security different for Microsoft Azure?

Guardicore is a long-time Microsoft partner, providing various integrations as well as research for Microsoft Azure and Azure Stack. As an IP Co-sell partner, our team has worked closely with Microsoft to develop the best hybrid security tool possible for Azure customers.

Guardicore Centra is capable of real-time integration with Azure orchestration. This utilizes metadata on the assets deployed in your Azure cloud environment, complementing the information collected by Guardicore agents.

For example, information coming from orchestration may include data that can’t be collected from the VM itself, such as: Source Image, Instance Name, Private DNS name, Instance ID, Instance Type, Security groups, Architecture, Power State, Private IP Address, or Subscription Name.

Ultimately, Guardicore covers the core cloud workload protection controls that Azure leaves as the responsibility of its customers in IaaS and PaaS environments:

  • Network firewalls/segmentation
  • Network visibility
  • Application control and whitelisting
  • System integrity monitoring and management
  • Hardening, configuration, and vulnerability management

Is hybrid cloud security different for Google Cloud Platform?

The Google Cloud Platform (GCP) covers shared responsibility as part of a more general Google security model. However, like that of AWS and Azure, its security offering utilizes a “divide and conquer” model that results in gaps and inconsistencies across hybrid cloud environments.

Similar to AWS, GCP leaves the following core cloud workload protection controls totally in the hands of its customers:

  • Network firewalls/segmentation
  • Network visibility
  • Application control and whitelisting
  • System integrity monitoring and management
  • Hardening, configuration, and vulnerability management

Guardicore Centra provides a comprehensive solution that takes care of these controls across any environment type. With Centra, you get a single pane of glass security solution that offers complete protection for GCP instances. This enables you to secure your modern hybrid cloud instance efficiently, so DevOps and security teams can focus on core tasks, not data center security management.

Can hybrid cloud security be automated?

Parts of the hybrid cloud security process can definitely be automated. For example, Guardicore Centra’s detailed insights and AI-powered policy workflows take much of the manual effort out of segmentation policy creation, making it fast and intuitive. You can implement best-practice policies in just a few clicks using AI-based recommendations and specifying precise attributes like processes, users, and domain names. You can further automate processes by using public cloud tags as asset labels, so a policy is automatically applied to new cloud assets based on observed traffic.

Moreover, Guardicore Centra is integrated into the DevOps cycle. Assets are automatically provided with relevant agents and, if needed, policies. This way, on creation, they are automatically added to the environment securely and efficiently.

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