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The Three Main Cloud Delivery Services and Security Models

What are the three types of cloud delivery services, and how can we improve on standard cloud delivery service security? 

For many businesses, today’s digital transformation journey includes a pivotal decision: adopting cloud delivery services that align with their needs. Cloud computing has become a staple in modern IT infrastructures with many benefits – ranging from scalability to cost efficiency. However, as with all technologies, the cloud has its own cybersecurity challenges and keeping cloud delivery service secure is an important consideration.  

Let’s explore the three main cloud delivery models and the inherent security measures they offer while understanding why these basic precautions might not suffice in today’s complex cyber threat world of financial opportunists, hacktivists, and well-funded nation-state bad actors. 

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

    What are IaaS cloud delivery services?
    IaaS provides virtualized computing resources over the internet. It offers the fundamental building blocks that businesses need to run applications and manage workloads.

    Examples: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

    Basic Default Security Features:
    Firewalls: Protect against unauthorized digital access.
    Data Encryption: Encrypts data both at rest and in transit.
    Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Requires multiple forms of identification before granting access.

    Why Basic IaaS Security Isn’t Enough:
    While IaaS platforms come equipped with some essential security measures, they operate on a shared responsibility model. This means that while the provider ensures the infrastructure’s security, the onus is on the businesses to secure their data, applications, and OS. This leaves room for misconfigurations, lack of patching, and potential vulnerabilities. 

    Enhanced Security Measures for IaaS:
    Regular Vulnerability Assessments and Patching: Consistently scan and rectify potential weak points.
    Advanced Threat Intelligence: Adopt tools that provide real-time insights into emerging threats.
    Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): Ensure that only the right individuals have access to specific data by adopting a zero trust model and managing insider risk.

  2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)

    What are PaaS cloud delivery services?
    PaaS provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage applications without many of the issues associated with dealing with the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure.

    Examples: Google App Engine, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft Azure App Service.

    Basic Default Security Features:
    SSL Certificates: Secure channels for data transmission.
    Identity Management Systems: Control over user access and permissions.
    Built-in Development Tools: Often come with pre-configured security settings.

    Why Basic PaaS Security Isn’t Enough:
    PaaS environments, while user-friendly, can sometimes obscure underlying vulnerabilities due to their abstraction. Moreover, the use of third-party code or components in development can introduce vulnerabilities if not properly vetted.

    Enhanced Security Measures for PaaS:
    Application Security Testing: Regularly test applications for vulnerabilities.
    Security Development Training: Educate developers on best practices and potential threats.
    Monitoring and Logging: Maintain a continuous oversight of applications and platforms for abnormal activities.

  3. Software as a Service (SaaS)

    What are SaaS cloud delivery services?
    SaaS delivers software over the internet on a subscription basis. Users access the software through a web browser, preventing the need for local installations or hardware.Examples: Google Workspace, Salesforce, Dropbox.

    Basic Default Security Features: 
    Data Backup: Regular backups of user data.
    Centralized Security Management: Inbuilt security settings managed by the provider.
    Automatic Updates: Seamless software updates, including security patches. 

    Why Basic SaaS Security Isn’t Enough:
    SaaS applications, being widely accessible, can be prime targets for cyberattacks. Additionally, since the data is stored off-site, often in shared environments, there’s a potential risk of data breaches if not properly isolated.

    Enhanced Security Measures for SaaS:
    Data Loss Prevention (DLP): Monitor and control data transferring across the company’s network. 
    Behavioral Analytics: This can identify anomalous access patterns, allowing administrators to tighten controls and ensure that users only access the resources necessary for their roles.
    End-to-end Encryption: Ensure data remains encrypted, not just during transit but also within the SaaS environment.
    Increase Visibility: Gaining granular visibility into user and application behaviors by profiling normal application behavior, can quickly flag deviations, potentially indicating malicious activities.
    Regular Security Audits: Periodically review security postures and adjust protocols accordingly.  

Improving Security for Cloud Delivery Services 

While cloud providers ensure a foundational layer of security, the ever-evolving threat landscape demands a more robust and proactive approach. Regardless of the delivery model, organizations need to recognize that the basic default cybersecurity measures, while essential, are just the starting point for cloud delivery services protection.   

As businesses continue to integrate cloud solutions, which is now a must for all progressive organizations, a holistic understanding of both the benefits and potential security pitfalls is crucial. Through complementing basic cloud security with advanced measures, organizations can harness the full power of the cloud, and all its benefits, while ensuring their data remains uncompromised. As always, in the realm of cybersecurity, it’s better to be proactive than reactive. Adopting a layered defense approach, staying informed, and always prioritizing digital asset security are cloud delivery services’ best practices. 

We help our customers leverage improved cloud protection, secure containers, enforce zero trust best practices and application visibility, reduce the impact of insider threats, protect against supply chain vulnerabilities, stop the spread of ransomware, and more. Please drop us a line for a no-obligation demonstration if you’d like to learn how we can improve your cloud delivery services defense. 

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