Security-Specific Tech for Automating Cloud Infrastructure

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Companies moving to cloud infrastructures start with an architecture diagram, then migrate to the cloud. Thereafter, they provision, configure, and then manage the parts of the infrastructure. All of these elements welcome automation. Automated tools can provide services of the cloud infrastructure, freeing up valuable time and energy for the entire development team. Organizations cannot put their faith in manual resources because cloud deployments move too fast and change too rapidly. They need to discard legacy tools and older practices in order to better manage cloud infrastructures. Companies are moving towards cloud-native solutions that provide added flexibility and scalability. Despite these advances, there’s a key missing piece—security.

There are consistent challenges in automating cloud infrastructure. Whenever companies do this, at scale, security is an unfortunate afterthought and isn’t automated into the process. Cloud companies typically use “detective” tools after the cloud infrastructure is developed to find their flaws. They run scans on pre-defined parameters and note any needed patching, but they aren’t looking at the attack paths left open. They don’t see the big picture

When it comes to security, the usual approach is to run testing tools, review the issues, and go back to fix them. Sounds fine, but it’s a reactive approach. Due to the frequency and severity of breaches and data loss, firms are grasping the need for ways to spot security infrastructure problems, earlier in the process. They know they lose a measure of control with the cloud as they’re freely giving access to the cloud provider, not considering the best ways to protect their data. So, if they’re moving infrastructure to the cloud, they need to see a complete picture of their attack surface and intrusion points. Unfortunately, most firms aren’t focused on security, from the outset. It’s certainly not a part of the design phase where the team might use Visio or a similar program to draw up infrastructure diagrams. This lack of focus on security is a gap vendors are trying to fill by offering more proactive automated services that make cloud infrastructures faster, more scalable, and more secure.

Threat modeling gives organizations a technology tool that streamlines and improves an infrastructures’ security, before they’re developed. Companies can understand the different threats and the controls they can put in place. It allows them to customize the script of the automated cloud infrastructure. So instead of spending time and money on “detect” mode, they’re developing a better understanding of the overall picture.

Advanced vendors offer automated threat modeling tools that provide much more comprehensive protection than manually-based platforms. The best threat modeling firms identify assets and access points, within the infrastructure, which can include configuration files, open ports or protocols. After identification these openings, the program uncovers threats and vulnerabilities as well as insights into the proper mitigations. The result? The team has insights into the entire infrastructure, not just workloads. The industry’s best threat modeling tools are highly scalable and through automation, they’re also much more mature than just a few years ago.

Threat modeling works seamlessly with other automation tools and gives companies much more leeway on how their infrastructure appears. It gives companies a look into every aspect of their security. It pushes them into a “security by design” approach that allows them to visualize the problems and attack surfaces before they apply changes to environments. It helps organizations view their cloud infrastructure as a holistic unit and to see where to place the best controls in order to maximize ROI. And this view is provided dynamically through continuous monitoring that’s constantly updated from a threat library.

Newer threat modeling tools that are purpose-built for the cloud, can actively monitor threats for both AWS and Azure environments. They offer out-of-the box functionality that fits into CI/CD pipelines so teams can build secure cloud infrastructure with confidence.

Cloud infrastructure is at a similar position as the earliest days of the internet. The internet was created from a functionality-centered point of view, not security. Infrastructures placed in the cloud are also designed for function. But the realities of sophisticated and increasing intrusions is pushing companies towards proactive approaches, with security coming much earlier in the cloud infrastructure process.

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