The Biggest Cloud Security Challenges in 2022

According to Check Point’s 2022 Cloud Security Report, 27% of organizations have experienced a security incident in their public cloud infrastructure within the last 12 months. Of these, nearly a quarter (23%) were caused by security misconfigurations in cloud infrastructure. Other significant contributors to cloud breaches included improper data sharing (15%), compromised accounts (15%), and vulnerability exploitation (14%).

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Cloud Adoption Grown Rapidly

Cloud adoption has grown rapidly in recent years. While many organizations were already moving to the cloud, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this transition. With the normalization of remote work, companies needed to be able to support and provide critical services to their off-site workforce.

As a result, over 98% of organizations use some form of cloud-based infrastructure, and over three-quarters (76%) have multi-cloud deployments composed of services from two or more cloud providers. These cloud environments host critical business applications and store sensitive company and customer data.

With the move to the cloud comes a need for cloud security. These cloud-based applications must be protected against attack, and cloud-hosted data must be protected against unauthorized access in accordance with applicable regulations.

However, cloud environments differ significantly from on-prem infrastructure, which means that traditional security tools and approaches do not always work effectively in the cloud. As a result, many organizations are facing significant challenges in securing their newfound cloud infrastructure.

Explore The Biggest Cloud Security Challenges in 2022

Cloud adoption is growing every year, which means that the importance of cloud security is increasing as well. In recent years, many organizations rapidly made the switch to cloud-based infrastructure to support business needs, but efforts to secure this infrastructure have lagged behind. In 2022, many organizations are looking to correct these issues but face significant challenges, such as the following:

#1. Multi-Cloud Challenges

Most companies have a multi-cloud deployment. This enables them to take full advantage of the unique benefits of different cloud environments optimized for particular use cases. However, it also adds to the scale and complexity of their cloud infrastructure.

The greater complexity of multi-cloud environments contributes to significant multi-cloud security challenges. Some of the leading challenges that multi-cloud users face include:

  • Data Protection and Privacy: 57% of organizations find it challenging to properly protect data in multi-cloud environments in accordance with corporate policy and regulatory requirements. Different environments have different built-in security controls and tools, making consistent protection difficult to achieve.
  • Access to Cloud Skills: 56% of organizations struggle to gain access to the necessary skills to deploy and manage consistent security across multi-cloud environments. Doing so requires in-depth expertise in each environment, which grows more difficult as the number of environments grows.
  • Solution Integration: Multi-cloud environments involve disparate solutions from multiple vendors. 50% of organizations have difficulty with understanding how security solutions work together.
  • Loss of Visibility and Control: Achieving visibility and control is difficult in the cloud due to the shared responsibility model and reliance on vendor-controlled infrastructure. 46% of organizations cite this as a major challenge when working in multi-cloud environments.

#2. Cloud Providers

Over three-quarters of organizations (76%) use two or more cloud services providers, and nearly a quarter (24%) use more than five. This cloud infrastructure complexity makes it difficult to consistently monitor and secure these cloud environments. Additionally, over half of organizations (54%) believe that the built-in security offerings of their cloud providers are not as effective as solutions from a third-party vendor.

The complexity of securing multi-cloud environments can make it difficult to achieve organizations’ primary security goals, including:

  • Preventing Cloud Misconfigurations: With many vendor-specific security settings, ensuring that all are correct is complex.
  • Securing Major Cloud Apps Already in Use: Rapid shifts to the cloud due to COVID-19 left many security teams playing catch-up.
  • Reaching Regulatory Compliance: Rapid digital transformation and an expanding regulatory landscape make compliance complex.
  • Defending Against Malware: As companies shift focus to the cloud, so do cyber threat actors, making malware management a priority in the cloud.

#3. Automation & Orchestration

As organizations transition to complex, multi-cloud deployments, automation and orchestration are essential to maintaining security at scale. Organizations use various security tools to help implement security controls and processes, including:

  • Templated Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and Security as Code (Terraform or AWS CloudFormation) 48%
  • Serverless Technologies (Lamba or Azure functions): 44%
  • Continuous Integration and Delivery (CI/CD) Plugins (Jenkins or TeamCity): 44%
  • Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) tools: 41%
  • Configuration Orchestration Tools (Chef or Ansible): 41%
  • Web Application Firewalls (WAFs): 5%

#4. DevOps Cycle

Shifting security left by integrating it into earlier stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) can dramatically reduce the costs and impacts of vulnerabilities or code that violates regulatory compliance requirements. Organizations implement DevOps security and compliance testing into various stages of the SDLC, including:

  • System Testing and Production: 52%
  • Feature Development and Unit Testing: 42%
  • Staging: 42%
  • No Testing: 10%
  • Other: 27%

#5. Operational Security

Securing the cloud can be challenging, especially in complex, multi-cloud environments. Some of the biggest challenges that organizations face when attempting to secure their cloud workloads include:

  • Lack of Qualified Staff: The cybersecurity industry is facing a significant skills shortage, and specialized skill sets are even harder to find. As a result, less than half of organizations (45%) find qualified personnel to fill critical cloud security roles.
  • Compliance: Most organizations are subject to many different compliance regulations, and the regulatory landscape is rapidly expanding. As organizations shift to the cloud, 39% state that achieving, maintaining, and demonstrating regulatory compliance in this very different IT environment is a significant challenge.
  • Lack of Infrastructure Security Visibility: Cloud deployments operate under the shared responsibility model where the responsibility for security is divided between the cloud provider and customer. Without visibility and control at lower layers of their infrastructure stack and the inability to deploy traditional security solutions, 35% of organizations struggle to achieve critical visibility into their underlying security infrastructure.
  • Difficulty in Identifying Misconfigurations: Each cloud platform has its own unique set of security configurations, and most organizations work with multiple cloud providers. For 33% of organizations, the complexity of their cloud environments makes it challenging to rapidly identify and correct misconfigurations before they can be exploited by an attacker.
  • Setting Consistent Security Policies: With multiple cloud environments, organizations are faced with a variety of different built-in security tools and settings. As a result, 32% of companies claim that maintaining consistent security policies across their cloud infrastructure is a significant challenge.
  • Cloud Security Automation: Continuous and automated security controls are essential to minimizing the risk and impact of cyberattacks against cloud-based resources. However, 31% of organizations struggle with implementing these automated controls.
  • Automated Security Enforcement: The scope of multi-cloud environments makes it infeasible to manually configure and enforce security across an organization’s entire environment. Automated enforcement is essential but is cited as a major challenge for 28% of organizations.

#6. Cloud Compliance

Compliance with various data protection regulations and industry standards is a must for most organizations. However, designing and implementing compliance policies for cloud environments is very different from on-prem systems. Some of the biggest cloud compliance challenges faced by organizations include:

  • Lack of Staff Knowledge and Expertise: Cloud compliance requires specialist knowledge and expertise because it requires not only knowledge of required controls but also how to implement them in cloud environments. Over half (55%) of organizations point to a lack of this combined regulatory and cloud knowledge as their biggest cloud compliance challenge.
  • Changing Environments: Cloud compliance is a continuous struggle as both regulatory requirements and cloud environments change regularly. Maintaining continuous compliance despite changes in cloud environments is a challenge cited by 43% of organizations.
  • Complex Audits: Compliance audits and risk assessments can be daunting on-prem where the organization owns and controls all of its infrastructure. Doing so in the cloud with limited access to underlying infrastructure is a challenge called out by 42% of organizations.
  • Compliance Monitoring: Maintaining compliance requires in-depth visibility into an organization’s systems and security controls. With visibility difficult to achieve in the cloud, 42% of organizations find compliance monitoring tricky in their cloud-based infrastructure.
  • Changing Requirements: In recent years, new regulations are rapidly being adopted, and existing standards are receiving updates. Keeping up with the evolving requirements is a major challenge for 36% of companies.
  • Cloud Vulnerability Management: With expanding multi-cloud infrastructure comes an expansion of an organization’s digital attack surface. Monitoring cloud apps and services for vulnerabilities is essential to preventing data breaches and regulatory non-compliance.
  • Compliance Automation: Manually maintaining and reporting compliance with multiple regulations across multi-cloud environments is complex and unscalable. 27% of organizations claim that scaling and automating compliance is one of their biggest cloud compliance challenges.

Cloud Security with Check Point

Cloud-based infrastructure can bring significant benefits to an organization. It offers greater flexibility and scalability, and the ability to reduce costs and overhead by outsourcing the management of much of an organization’s infrastructure stack to the cloud provider.

However, these benefits also come at a cost. As organizations transition from on-prem environments to cloud-based infrastructure, they need to integrate their cloud deployments into their existing security policies and architecture. The significant differences between on-prem and cloud-based infrastructure can make this quite an endeavor and present numerous cloud security challenges.

To learn more about common challenges that organizations face in 2022 as they work to secure their cloud-based infrastructure, check out the 2022 Cloud Security Report. Then, to see how your organization can eliminate complexity and achieve security and regulatory compliance in the cloud, sign up for a free demo of Check Point CloudGuard Cloud Security.

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