Cloud Adoption and Cybersecurity With Security-as-a-Service

Written by: Pooja Arya, Principal, Cyber Group Inc.

With the growing work remote culture, organizations around the world have started using lots of cloud-based applications that help them to coordinate, collaborate, communicate and become more productive. Not only professional but social gatherings are also held virtually e.g., virtual happy hours, virtual toastmasters club, schools and colleges went virtual and most of these are made possible by the cloud. Behind all of these capabilities, cloud providers like Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud, had a lot to offer including the power to scale up to provide reliability. This was extremely significant. The year 2020 has also fast-tracked so many organizations that had plans to move to the cloud.

Security-as-a-Service

With the increase in the adoption of the cloud, we also need to consider how we can maintain Cyber Security to protect remote workforces. Organizations need to look for tools that not only can be set up and deployed quickly but is also cost-effective. These tools need to support the remote workforce with their performance and not slow them down.

Security-as-a-Service (SECaaS) can most easily be described as a cloud-delivered model for outsourcing cybersecurity services. Much like Software-as-a-Service, SECaaS provides security services on a subscription-based option hosted by cloud providers.  SECaaS solutions have become increasingly popular for corporate infrastructures to ease the in-house security team’s responsibilities, scale security needs as the business grows, and avoid the costs and maintenance of on-premises alternatives.

The range of SECaaS services currently available is vast and offers protection at the most granular level. Some examples include:

  • Continuous Monitoring
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
  • Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR or BCDR)
  • Email Security
  • Antivirus Management
  • Spam Filtering
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  • Intrusion Protection
  • Security Assessment
  • Network Security
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
  • Web Security
  • Vulnerability Scanning

Benefits of Security-as-a-Service

Security-as-a-Service offers several benefits, including:

  • Cost-cutting: SECaaS eases the financial constraints and burdens for online businesses, integrating security services without on-premises hardware or a huge budget. Using a cloud-based security product also bypasses the need for costly security experts and analysts.
  • Consistent and uniform protection: SECaaS services provide continued protection as databases are constantly being updated to provide up-to-date security coverage. It also alleviates the issue of having separate infrastructures, instead combining all elements in one manageable system.
  • Support for Constant virus definition updates that are not reliant on user compliance.
  • Greater security expertise than is typically available within an organization.
  • Faster user provisioning and agility.
  • Outsourcing of administrative tasks, such as log management, to save time and money and allow an organization to devote more time to its core competencies.
  • A web interface that allows in-house administration of some tasks as well as a view of the security environment and ongoing activities.

Considerations while opting for Security-as-a-Service

If you are shopping for SECaaS for the first time, it can be difficult to decide which provider is best suited to your needs. There are many different types of SECaaS providers with different specialties, features, and price points. We can divide the market into five major categories.

  • Cloud access security brokerage: Cloud access security brokerages (CASBs) are the “integrated suites” of the SECaaS world. CASB vendors typically provide a range of services designed to help your company protect cloud infrastructure and data in whatever form it takes. One of the top vendors for providing this is Oracle Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB).
  • Single sign-on (SSO): These services give users the ability to access all their enterprise cloud apps with a single set of login credentials. SSO also gives IT and network administrators a better ability to monitor access and accounts.
  • Email Security: A massive amount of data travels in and out of your business through cloud-based email servers. SECaaS providers that focus on email security can protect you from the menagerie of threats and risks that are an intrinsic part of email, like targeted attacks, phishing, and data breaches.
  • Website and App security: Beyond protecting your data and infrastructure when using cloud-based applications, you also need to protect the apps and digital properties that you own and manage—like your website. This is another area where traditional endpoint and firewall protection will still leave you vulnerable to attacks, hacks, and breaches. Tools and services in this category are usually designed to expose and seal vulnerabilities in your external-facing websites, web applications, or internal portals and intranets.
  • Network security: Cloud-based network security applications help your business monitor traffic moving in and out of your servers and stop threats before they materialize. You may already use a hardware-based firewall, but with a limitless variety of threats spread across the internet today, it is a good idea to have multiple layers of security. Network security as a service, of course, means the vendor would deliver threat detection and intrusion prevention through the cloud.

Challenges

SECaaS has several deficiencies that make it insecure for many applications. Each individual security service request adds at least one across-the-‘Net round-trip (not counting installer packages), four opportunities for the hacker to intercept the conversation:

  • At the send connection point going up
  • At the receive connection point going up
  • At the sending point for the return
  • At the receiving point for the return

SECaaS makes all security handling uniform so that once there is a security breach for one request, security is broken for all requests, the very broadest attack surface there can be. It also multiplies the rewards incentive to a hacker because the value of what can be gained for the effort is dramatically increased. Both these factors are specially tailored to the resources of the nation/state-sponsored hacker.

The biggest challenge for the SECaaS market is maintaining a reputation of reliability and superiority to standard non-cloud services. SECaaS has seemingly become a mainstay in the cloud market.

Conclusions

Cloud-based website security does not cater to all businesses, and specific requirements must be properly assessed by individual needs. Businesses who cater to the end consumers cannot afford to keep their data loose and vulnerable to hacker attacks. The heaviest part of SECaaS is educating the businesses. Since data is the biggest asset for businesses, it is up to CIOs and CTOs to take care of the overall security in the company.