Top 7 ‌Google Cloud Platform (GCP‌) ‌Security Best Practices

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is Google’s managed cloud service. Like AWS and Azure, GCP offers a wide range of cloud services. However, as with any cloud platform, GCP comes with security risks that must be managed.

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The Different Types of Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Services

Cloud computing allows companies to outsource responsibility for some portion of their infrastructure stack to a third-party provider. Cloud platforms such as GCP offer various service models where the cloud service provider is responsible for more or less of the cloud infrastructure stack.

Some of the common cloud models include the following:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): The cloud customer can use applications, such as G-Suite, developed and maintained by the cloud provider.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): The cloud provider provides an environment where the customer can deploy applications and databases.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The cloud customer has access to an environment where they can deploy virtual machines (VMs).

Under all of these service models, the cloud customer is responsible for maintaining and securing some part of their infrastructure stack under the cloud shared responsibility model. This can range from properly configuring vendor-provided security settings in a SaaS solution to securing the OS and applications of a VM running in an IaaS deployment.

Security Risks in GCP

Like other cloud platforms, GCP differs significantly from on-prem infrastructure, and these differences can create security risks. Some of the main security challenges that companies face include the following:

  • Misunderstanding Security Responsibilities: Under the cloud shared responsibility model, the cloud customer is responsible for securing some levels of their cloud infrastructure stack and shares responsibility for others. A lack of understanding of security responsibilities can leave security gaps.
  • Lack of Cloud Visibility: The cloud shared responsibility model and the scale of rapidly-changing cloud deployments can make it difficult to achieve comprehensive cloud visibility. This can impair security teams’ efforts to prevent and respond to attacks against cloud infrastructure.
  • Insecure Cloud Configurations: Cloud platforms like GCP commonly have a range of vendor-provided settings that must be properly configured for a secure cloud deployment. Security misconfigurations are a leading cause of data breaches and other security incidents in the cloud.
  • Workload Security: Cloud workloads — such as VMs, containers, and serverless functions — have unique security risks. A failure to properly manage and secure these workloads can leave them vulnerable to attack.
  • Weak Access Management: Cloud infrastructure is publicly accessible, making it an ideal target for attackers. A failure to properly control access to cloud deployments can place them and an organization’s on-prem assets at risk.
  • Unscalable Cloud Security: Agility and scalability are two of the main benefits of cloud-based infrastructure. If cloud security processes are unable to scale to keep up with the expansion of cloud infrastructure, then an organization’s cloud deployments may be left vulnerable to attack.

7 Security Best Practices for Google Cloud Platform

A GCP deployment requires a security strategy designed to meet its unique security needs. Seven GCP security best practices include the following:

  1. Leverage Google Cloud Security Blueprints: Google provides a range of cloud security solutions and has published blueprints for effectively securing its services. A GCP security architecture should start with the Google-provided blueprints.
  2. Understand Shared Security: Different cloud service models (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, etc.) have different security risks and responsibilities. A clear understanding of cloud security responsibilities is essential to a secure GCP deployment.
  3. Centralize Logging and Monitoring: Visibility is one of the biggest security challenges in cloud infrastructure. Centralize logging for cloud infrastructure to provide comprehensive visibility into a GCP deployment.
  4. Automate When Possible: Cloud infrastructure is designed to scale and evolve rapidly. Automation is essential to enforce consistent cloud security policies and controls at scale.
  5. Monitor Security Settings: Security misconfigurations are a major cause of cloud security incidents. Automated cloud security posture management (CSPM) solutions help organizations to identify and fix issues before they can be exploited by an attacker.
  6. Secure Cloud Workloads: Critical applications and data storage are increasingly moving to cloud workloads, such as containers, VMs, and serverless functions. Cloud workload security solutions provide in-depth visibility and protection tailored to the unique needs of cloud workloads.
  7. Implement Least Privilege: GCP offers the ability to define resource hierarchies, which manage access to cloud resources. Design hierarchies based on the principle of least privilege to minimize the impact of security incidents.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP‌) Security with CloudGuard

Cloud infrastructure differs significantly from on-prem deployments, and its security differs as well. Protecting GCP deployments requires a security architecture designed to address the unique security risks of the cloud.

To discover more about designing security for GCP and other cloud environments, you’re welcome to review Check Point’s Cloud Security Blueprint 2.0. Furthermore, find out how Check Point CloudGuard can help to enhance GCP visibility and security by signing up for a free demo today.

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