Hybrid Cloud Security

What is Hybrid Cloud Security?

Hybrid cloud security is the multifaceted process of protecting infrastructure, data, and applications across several IT environments, including private clouds, public clouds, and on-premises hardware. This complex methodology defends against both cyberattacks and malicious insiders and is often managed across multiple third-party providers and enterprises.

What are the challenges with hybrid cloud security?

Unlike straightforward public or cloud security, hybrid cloud security combines aspects of both, introducing multiple controls and variables that can change depending on industry concerns or service-level agreements (SLAs). For the former, chief among these industry issues is compliance, especially regarding security of sensitive or confidential information. Such regulations may require keeping certain types of data on on-premises infrastructure (rather than accessible on the cloud) or restricting who can access the data at any given moment.

Additionally, the added complexity of multiple operators can obscure roles and responsibilities. Unclear SLAs may create gaps (or even overlaps) in security coverage and procedures: who manages which workload, who responds to incidents, how is communication handled, when are notifications shared, and other operations. Having one or many private and public clouds also complicates visibility across the entire infrastructure. Without a centralized dashboard or platform, monitoring, protecting, troubleshooting, and optimizing your hybrid cloud becomes inefficient at best—an arduous, high-stakes task spread between several key players.

Hybrid cloud security best practices

Utilize a “single pane of glass” management style

Typically, many cloud providers offer monitoring into their own services using their proprietary system. But that method only displays information for their cloud. Enterprises running a hybrid cloud need one centralized dashboard to monitor all activity across all their environments, letting them identify and respond to threats faster.

Limit authorized access and privileges

Being discretionary about who and what has access to your resources is paramount. For hybrid cloud, it means limiting not only who can use applications and other services in the public cloud, but to what degree cloud applications can “speak” to each other. By limiting when cloud services can communicate with on-premises IT, you eliminate potential back-door access from cyber threats or unauthorized users.

Adopt zero-trust security features

The best way to avoid unauthorized or unverified users and applications from accessing your infrastructure: trust no one. The core principle of zero-trust security is not letting users or programs interact with cloud resources until their identity is vetted, whether through multi-factor identification or other techniques.

Deploy artificial intelligence (AI)

Manual monitoring of a hybrid cloud environment can be a time-consuming task. But AI can detect, protect, and resolve potential security threats like malware or identify at-risk data. AI can also be used as an automation tool that can take over basic, low-level tasks such as real-time packet scanning, empowering IT teams to focus on greater, high-level concerns.

What is hybrid cloud security architecture?

Hybrid cloud security begins at the hardware level, located on-premises. Here, servers and bare-metal hardware contain all enterprise data, from code to databases to storage and other resources. And since this information is made available through one or several data centers and cloud environments, it is encrypted so only valid users and applications access and use it, typically through some form of zero-trust protocol.

On the perimeter, edge cloud servers and application containers undergo microsegmentation, meaning data is divided into groups and specific workloads, effectively isolating them with specific security controls. These “demilitarized zones” limit a cyberthreat’s ability to move through a data center. Firewalls add additional layers of protection, further separating cloud environments from on-premises resources, and can be implemented at several layers, including the hypervisor and operating system.

Components of hybrid cloud security

In general, hybrid cloud security can be broken into two distinct component types: physical (which includes human tasks like administration) and virtual.

Physical components

Hybrid cloud infrastructure is distributed by nature, meaning there are multiple physical locations that require security—at the enterprise and third-party levels. Both environments need foundational features that keep people away from hardware, even if they are simple devices or structures like locks and doors. Baseline security that helps regulate who has direct access to physical and cloud resources is a common necessity for governmental regulation and compliance and carries over to public cloud providers.

Physical components also include incident and disaster protection. Enterprises and third-party providers alike should have built-in backup storage and other redundancies in place. These help prevent permanent data loss in the event of unforeseen system failure or data corruption.

Virtual components

Virtual components represent the inherent advantages and complexity of a hybrid cloud infrastructure, including encryption, accessibility, automation, and endpoint security.

  • Encryption: Even if databases are compromised by malicious means, encryption components prevent information from being fully revealed. Encryption can occur at several levels: when data is stored, transmitted, in use, or not in use. Partition encryption tools like Linux Unified Key Setup-on-disk (LUKS) or Trusted Platform Module (TPM) secure and protect hardware from unauthorized access, while options like Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) encrypts a live network session, preventing data from interception.
  • Accessibility: Components that limit who and what has privileges to access resources exponentially decrease the likelihood of unauthorized access. Largely based on zero-trust principles, options like multi-factor identification or a virtual private network (VPN) ensure approved users and programs have the access to only the precise functions they need.
  • Automation: Automated components can take over many monotonous security tasks—and do them better than humans can. Actions like applying security patches, monitoring the environment, and checking for compliance can be done via machine learning (ML).
  • Endpoint security: Since hybrid clouds are accessible by any number of devices, including mobile phones and laptops, the potential openings for other unauthorized access increase. If devices are misplaced, stolen, or compromised, endpoint security components can purge device data and/or revoke access to the data center, preventing widespread breaches.

What are the security considerations in the hybrid cloud environment?

Data security and encryption: Data security ensures the integrity and privacy of confidential data in hybrid cloud environments. 

  • Protecting data at rest and in transit: Implement access control and authentication techniques to protect stored in the hybrid cloud environments. For example, data loss prevention (DLP) solutions help to track and block data breaches. Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Shell (SSH) encrypt data during transfer. The hybrid cloud environment must have reliable network security systems such as IDPS (intrusion detection/prevention systems) to counteract unauthorized access. 
  • Encryption techniques for hybrid cloud data security: Using encryption algorithms such as Transparent Data Encryption (TDE), you can protect data irrespective of location in the hybrid cloud setup. Also, you can set access controls to limit access to encrypted data depending on valid roles and permissions, modify encryption keys, and use robust key management measures to protect them.  

Identity and access management (IAM): By using strict identity and access management measures, organizations can review and modify access permissions to prevent unauthorized access.

  • Managing user identities and access controls: Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) and role-based access controls to ensure only verified users can access the hybrid cloud setups. Assess and update the user access permission to reinforce hybrid cloud security and limit access to the hybrid cloud resources. 
  • Single sign-on and federated identity management: With the help of single sign-on, users are authorized and get access to the applications and data. Federated identity management protocols such as OpenID and Security Assertion Markup Language assist with the authentication and authorization of users across the hybrid cloud.

Network security and segmentation: Assess and update the network security and segmentation policies to ensure the system's security. 

  • Securing network connections and data flows: Network protocols such as SSL/TLS and virtual private networks help secure connections between hybrid cloud and on-premises infrastructure. Update the network security configurations for secure data flows within the hybrid cloud. 
  • Network segmentation for isolation and control: Virtual LANs and Software Defined Networking enable isolation of data and systems in hybrid cloud setups. Network access controls such as ACLs (Access Control Lists) administer the communication between network segments.

Security monitoring and logging: Hybrid cloud security monitoring and logging allow you to keep an eye on security loopholes and handle them to avoid significant grievances. 

  • Continuous monitoring of hybrid cloud environments: Use the hybrid cloud security monitoring tools to gather and evaluate the logs from hybrid cloud setups. Set up alerts for threats and send automated responses to discover and address security breaches. 
  • Log management and analysis for threat detection: Centralized log management systems allow you to collect and store logs from the hybrid cloud to perform log analysis to remove security anomalies. 

Vulnerability management and patching: By taking care of vulnerability management and patching, you can improve the security posture of the hybrid cloud setups. 

  • Identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in hybrid cloud systems: Conduct vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to find loopholes and create vulnerability management processes to identify and remove them. 
  • Patch management strategies for hybrid cloud environments: Patch management strategies assess the patch levels across the components of a hybrid cloud and help you to prioritize critical patches for quick implementation.

How can you secure data in transit and at rest?

Secure data transfer mechanisms: By implementing secure data transfer mechanisms, businesses can ensure the privacy and integrity of data.

  • Encryption protocols for data in transit: Security encryption protocols, including Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), secure data during transmission between the cloud and on-premises infrastructure and offer data authentication and integrity.
  • Virtual private networks (VPN) and secure communication channels: VPNs use encrypted channels for data transmission to prevent unauthorized access and safeguard connections over the public network. Also, communication channels such as Secure Shell and Secure File Transfer Protocol secure data transfer and remote access to hybrid systems.

Data encryption and key management: By practicing data encryption and key management practices, you can ensure the effectiveness of data encryption.

  • Encryption options for data at rest in hybrid cloud storage: Disk-level and database-level encryption options protect data stored at rest in physical storage devices and databases in hybrid cloud storage.
  • Key management practices and secure key storage: Interchange the encryption keys to lessen the probability of data breaches by restricting the exposure window.

Data loss prevention (DLP): Data loss prevention tools and techniques ensure the confidentiality and integrity of data.

  • Preventing accidental or unauthorized data leakage: Train the users about data handling techniques to help them understand the risks of data leakage and imbibe a culture of security awareness.
  • DLP strategies and tools for hybrid cloud environments: DLP strategies and tools inhibit incidental data leakage by closely observing data transfers between on-premises and cloud resources.

How can organizations implement identity and access management in a hybrid cloud?

Role-based access controls (RBAC): The role-based access controls help you to control the user permissions and access rights in the hybrid cloud.

  • Implementing RBAC for user permissions and access: Identify the roles depending on the job profile and responsibilities in the organization and assign them the resources needed to execute the tasks.
  • Role assignment and management in hybrid cloud environments: Periodic reviews and evaluations ensure roles align with the changes in organizational requirements. You can streamline access management by automating role assignment and resource provisioning.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA): The multi-factor authentication requires users to provide multiple authentication factors to offer high security.

  • Enhancing security with additional authentication factors: Use multiple authentication factors such as biometrics, one-time passcodes, and strong passwords to authenticate users.
  • MFA implementation and best practices in the hybrid cloud: Integrate MFA solutions to centralize authentication and facilitate user management to amplify security.

Privileged access management (PAM): Privileged access management solutions prevent unauthorized access and ensure controlled availability of resources. 

  • Securing and monitoring privileged user access: Identify and appoint privileged users with access to crucial systems or data. For example, just-in-time access processes provide temporary monitored access, minimizing risks.
  • Implementing PAM solutions for hybrid cloud environments: PAM solutions help you control and record privileged user sessions to detect and inhibit unauthorized access.

How can organizations implement network security and segmentation in a hybrid cloud?

Network isolation and segmentation: Network isolation and segmentation ensure the security of data and applications by implementing the following: 

  • Implementing virtual networks and subnets for isolation: Virtual networks in hybrid cloud environments separate workloads and data to minimize unauthorized access. Segregating virtual networks into subnets isolates the components for improved security. 
  • Network segmentation strategies for enhanced security: Delineate the security zones depending on the data sensitivity and incorporate access controls between security zones to restrict lateral movement in the network. 

Firewalls and network security groups (NSGs): They are essential components of network security in hybrid cloud setups. 

  • Configuring firewalls and NSGs in hybrid cloud environments: Access control lists in the firewalls and NSGs allow or disallow traffic depending on IP protocols and addresses. 
  • Filtering network traffic and enforcing security policies: Deny by default blocks inbound traffic and allows legitimate traffic depending on predefined security protocols. 

Intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS): IDS/IPS monitor the network traffic, identify, and avert significant intrusions.

  • Monitoring and preventing network intrusions in the hybrid cloud: Monitor the network traffic to identify and track potential security incidents. 
  • Deploying IDS/IPS solutions for hybrid cloud security: Deploy the IDS/IPS solutions with security information and event management (SIEM) to improve threat detection and response mechanisms.

How can organizations implement security monitoring and incident response in a hybrid cloud?

Security information and event management (SIEM): Security information and event management software accumulate and analyze security logs and events in hybrid cloud setups. 

  • Collecting and analyzing security logs and events: The log collectors collect logs and events from different sources and centralize them in SIEM solutions for a comprehensive overview. 
  • Centralized security monitoring for hybrid cloud environments: Centralized hybrid cloud security monitoring allows efficient threat detection and incident response by sending alerts and notifications. 

Threat detection and response: Use the following strategies for detecting threats and ensuring a prompt response. 

  • Detecting and responding to security threats in the hybrid cloud: The threat intelligence services detect threats and ensure immediate remedial measures to address them. 
  • Incident response procedures and security incident management: Create incident response plans that delineate the roles, responsibilities, and steps to implement security incidents.  

Cloud security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR): SOAR enables enterprises to automate security tasks and response actions. 

  • Automating security tasks and response in the hybrid cloud: Automate the routine tasks with the help of SOAR to streamline and speed up incident handling by reducing manual intervention. 
  • Integration of security tools and workflows for efficient incident response: Set up seamless integrations between security tools and workflows to facilitate easy information exchange.  

What is compliance and governance in hybrid cloud security?

Regulatory compliance: It is essential to meet regulatory compliance to maintain the security and integrity of data and applications. 

  • Meeting industry-specific regulations and standards: Define the industry-specific regulations, understand and fulfill the requirements. Carry out a comprehensive analysis to find the gaps that don’t match the compliance standards, followed by a remediation plan to overcome the gaps.
  • Auditing and reporting for compliance in the hybrid cloud: Conduct internal and external audits to evaluate the effectiveness of security controls, find vulnerabilities, and meet compliance standards. Also, it is advised to create detailed 
    reports for data protection techniques, incident response processes, and security measures. 

Data privacy and protection: Consider the following aspects of data privacy and protection: 

  • Managing data privacy requirements in hybrid cloud environments: Segregate data depending on its sensitivity and take appropriate measures to protect and manage it. It is essential to have data governance policies and implement processes to manage user consent to ensure privacy of personal data. 
  • GDPR and other data protection regulations in the hybrid cloud: Use secure data transfer methods to ensure compliance with GDPR standards. It is essential to have processes to facilitate data subject rights, such as the right to retrieve, modify, and erase personal data. 

Cloud security frameworks and best practices: By implementing cloud security frameworks and best practices, organizations can maintain a secure and compliant hybrid cloud environment.

  • Adhering to industry-recognized security frameworks: Security frameworks such as NIST and ISO 27001 offer a comprehensive overview of security management systems, including risk assessments, controls, and compliance. 
  • Implementing best security practices in hybrid cloud environments: Perform vulnerability assessments and patch management to manage vulnerabilities. The principle of least privilege limits access rights to users only when needed, lowering the risk of security incidents.

What are the future trends in hybrid cloud security?

Some of the trends that have a promising future in hybrid cloud security are:  

  • Zero trust security architecture: Zero trust security architecture focuses on authenticating and validating devices, applications, and user identities irrespective of network and location. Implementing micro-segmentation in the hybrid cloud setups split the hybrid cloud into smaller segments to put granular access into effect to prevent attack surface and lateral movements in the network. This architecture emphasizes identity-centric security, where all the systems and users are authenticated and approved before accessing data and resources. 
  • Cloud-native security solutions: Enterprises are increasingly embracing cloud-native architecture, and hybrid security solutions help to overcome the hybrid cloud security challenges. Containerization and orchestration platforms offer specific measures to secure the containers and offer runtime protection and vulnerability scanning. Serverless computing ensures data privacy and secure execution by protecting serverless functions and identifying malicious activities.  
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in hybrid cloud security: AI and machine learning are integral to hybrid cloud security and offer cutting-edge capabilities for threat detection, prevention, and incident response. The AI and ML algorithms identify patterns and inconsistencies that indicate potential threats, followed by quick remediation and response. Also, they analyze user and entity behaviors, create baseline patterns, and track deviations in behaviors such as suspicious activities and unauthorized access. 

HPE and hybrid cloud security

Protecting your hybrid cloud environments without a reliable partner can be an immense undertaking. HPE solutions like HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform offer enterprises and other organizations a robust portfolio of managed tools and insights to ensure optimal cloud and on-premises efficiency and security, including IT compliance, software asset management, backup, and disaster recovery.

HPE GreenLake for Data Protection is the next generation of data protection cloud services, offering customers the flexibility to modernize data protection—from rapid recovery to ransomware protection to long-term data retention—either on-premises or in the public cloud with operational simplicity, meeting every SLA at the right cost.

HPE Backup and Recovery Service for VMware is specifically designed for hybrid cloud environments. Delivered through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) console and policy-based orchestration and automation, customers can protect their virtual machines (VMs) with three simple steps in less than five minutes and manage their backups effortlessly across on-premises and hybrid cloud environments.

HPE InfoSight and HPE CloudPhysics expand and simplify the cloud operational experience. HPE InfoSight gives users end-to-end visibility across the IT stack, including up to the app layer. This empowers customers to keep application workloads optimized, run disruption-free, and continue to enjoy a transformed operational and support experience. Meanwhile, HPE CloudPhysics helps customers simulate a cloud migration, optimize workload placement, and scale infrastructure. HPE Partners gain insights into their customers’ environment, enabling them to deliver tailored solutions and be strategic partners to their customers.