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Cloud workload security – also known as cloud workload protection (CWP) – is the practice of securing workloads across multi-cloud and hybrid cloud architectures. In this context, a workload comprises all the data, network resources, and resources that support an application and the application itself. Each component must remain operational for the cloud application to function, meaning it must be protected from cyberattacks.

However, a single workload may be distributed across multiple cloud and on-premises environments, making security challenging. In this post, we’ll outline cloud workload security best practices that will help you ensure comprehensive protection without negatively impacting the functionality or performance of your cloud application.

Cloud Workload Security Best Practices

Use Automation to Reduce Human Error

Human error is a leading cause of cloud security breaches, especially in complex hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. Typically, errors occur either during the initial configuration of a cloud environment or during a software update. To reduce the risk of human error, you can use automated provisioning and configuration management solutions that handle these critical tasks with very little human involvement.

Automated provisioning involves using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) to turn deployment tasks into automated scripts or software code. This code is stored in a centralized repository where it can be deployed as often as needed to provision new resources automatically. Administrators can also run tests and vulnerability scans on new configurations before deployment to infrastructure, ensuring consistency, accuracy, and security across all environments using CI (Continuous Integration and continuous deployment) pipelines.

Automated configuration management solutions allow you to define the desired state of a cloud environment configuration. The tool then continuously monitors the environment for configuration drift, which could be caused by human error during a software update or a sign of malware. The configuration management tool automatically brings the environment back to the desired state if an unauthorized change is made.


Use Role-Based Access Control to Limit Privileges

Another major threat to cloud workload security is over-privileged accounts. If one account accrues too many privileges, it becomes an attractive target to hackers who can use it to jump around your network, access sensitive data, and disrupt business operations.

You should use role-based access control (RBAC) to limit account privileges to limit the blast radius of a cyberattack. RBAC involves defining specific roles within a cloud workload and creating accounts with the exact privileges needed to perform their roles. If one of these accounts is compromised, the damage will be contained to a single area, making threat detection and remediation much easier.


Use Centralized Monitoring for Comprehensive Coverage

Monitoring and visibility can be challenging in a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud architecture. Each cloud provider may offer differing degrees of logging and reporting, making it difficult to ensure consistent coverage. Plus, it’s hard to see the big picture when using different monitoring tools for each environment.

Centralized monitoring is a cloud workload security best practice because it provides you with a holistic view of your workload from one dashboard. A centralized solution consolidates all your logs in a single location, making it easier for administrators to spot anomalies without needing to jump from environment to environment. Plus, many tools include visualizations and data insights that can help you make smarter predictions and decisions about the security of your cloud workload.


Use Runtime Security to Protect Containers

Endpoint security is useful for protecting monolith applications running on traditional infrastructure. Still, cloud-native applications run on an entirely different type of architecture called containers. Containers are extremely small, self-contained runtime environments that are immutable, meaning they’re frequently destroyed and recreated. The ephemeral nature of containers makes endpoint-based security ineffective because the endpoint is temporary.

You need a runtime security solution designed specifically for containerized applications to protect a cloud-native workload. Runtime security includes much of the same functionality as endpoint security, such as signature-based threat detection and automatic blocking and quarantining. They may also include configuration management that detects when an unauthorized container is spun up and automatically destroys it to prevent a security incident.


Use a CWPP Solution to Simplify Cloud Workload Security

A cloud workload protection platform (CWPP) rolls up all the tools and features needed to secure a cloud workload and delivers them as a single solution. One of the key features of a CWPP is the ability to automatically discover all the workloads on your on-premises and cloud infrastructure, ensuring no gaps in its coverage. Once these workloads have been pulled into the CWPP, the solution can perform security assessments, recommend actions, and deploy security controls to keep cloud workloads secure. 

Synopsys, EDA, and the Cloud

Synopsys is the industry’s largest provider of electronic design automation (EDA) technology used in the design and verification of semiconductor devices, or chips. With Synopsys Cloud, we’re taking EDA to new heights, combining the availability of advanced compute and storage infrastructure with unlimited access to EDA software licenses on-demand so you can focus on what you do best – designing chips, faster. Delivering cloud-native EDA tools and pre-optimized hardware platforms, an extremely flexible business model, and a modern customer experience, Synopsys has reimagined the future of chip design on the cloud, without disrupting proven workflows.


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About The Author

Sudesh Gadewar is group director of Information Security at Synopsys and leads the Information Security Architecture and Engineering team globally. Sudesh has 15+ years of experience in security where his passion is in both the offense and defense of security. Sudesh leads Synopsys' cyber security engineering and architecture efforts focused on secure architecture on on-prem, cloud security, tooling, frameworks, automation and threat intelligence.

In his spare time, he likes to educate adults and kids about security and cyber security 101. Sudesh has presented at various conferences such as Cisco Live, DEFCON, Tech Summits and Meet Up to share best practices and new analysis around threats and information security.

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