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What Are the Best Workload Protection Strategies

Cloud workload refers to all computing and network usage of a set of cloud-based applications, including cloud storage. These cloud environments can be public, private, or a hybrid of the two. They have unique security requirements that differ from traditional on-premises IT systems.

Cloud Workload Protection (CWP) is the process of protecting these workloads from ransomware and attacks. A Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) is a dedicated solution especially for providing this security. Below are some of the best cloud workload protection strategies.

Securing Your VM-based workloads

Organizations should do the following to protect virtual machine cloud workloads:

  1. Find configuration standards in place for all of the different operating systems. As well as build variations you want in the cloud. These may align with the center for Internet security benchmarks or other industry guidelines, but establishing formal organizational standards is a good place to start. Next, create virtual machine image templates that adhere to basic standards and save them as cloud VM formats such as Amazon Machine Images or Azure VM templates.
  2. For hybrid cloud models, it’s best to implement a standardized tool. Such as Chef or Puppet, which can be useful both on-premises and in the cloud to configure virtual machines and then monitor their configurations in real-time. If you’re already familiar with Chef cookbooks or Ansible,  you can easily extend your configuration templates to cloud workloads using playbooks, for example. Tag or otherwise identify these templates assigned to workloads.
  3. If possible, patch and update VM templates instead of running systems, then deploy new virtual machines and terminate the old ones. However, implementing a progressive update cycle can take some time.
  4. For non-hybrid cloud implementations, use cloud-native systems management tools like AWS Systems Manager, but keep in mind that these services are a form of vendor lock-in and will not translate to multi-cloud deployment models.

Improve Endpoint Cloud Workload Protection

If possible, prioritize cloud-friendly and cloud-native endpoint security solutions. Many endpoint detection and response (EDR) vendors have adapted their agents to work with all cloud platforms. These are excellent options. Antimalware technology should be chosen from the marketplaces of cloud providers and integrated with all images stored in the cloud provider environment. 

Container-based Security Options

Implement any cloud-native container image scanning provided by your cloud provider. Such as the Google Cloud Platform image scanner or AWS Elastic Container Registry image scanning, for container-based controls that enable cloud workload protection. These tools have native integration with cloud provider environments and are often simple to automate for image check-in scans; all new images should be scanned for vulnerabilities immediately.

Serverless Function Fixes for Cloud Workload Protection

There are very few techniques and controls specifically for protecting serverless functions. All logs relating to updates and changes to serverless function code and configuration should be monitored by security professionals. They should also ensure that the “least privilege” principle applies to serverless code. 

Ensure periodic reviews of the total risk posture within cloud environments are performed to ensure that security and the other DevOps teams involved remain aligned.

  • Keep system instances in the cloud as secure as possible. Especially, in accordance with the types of exposure and data classification involved.
  • Pay close attention to workload-related privilege allocation and user, group, and role management. In a dynamic environment, this can easily “creep” over time.
  • Commit to a continuous monitoring culture. Do so by assisting in the automation of detection and scripted response activities. 
  • Discuss any vulnerabilities discovered in cloud deployments with all team members, and ensure that DevOps teams are involved in discussions about vulnerability, patch, and configuration management.
  • Discuss the evolving threat landscape with DevOps teams. Solicit feedback on practical steps that are being taken to implement adequate security without obstructing progress or slowing down the pace of business activities.

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