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Glossary

Cloud Database Security

Cloud Database Security Definition

Cloud database security encompasses the processes and technologies involved in protecting cloud-based infrastructure, applications, and data from unauthorized access, breaches, and attacks. Cloud data security methods include user and device authentication, and resource and data access control.

Cloud Database Security FAQs

What is Cloud Database Security?

To understand cloud database security, the concept of a cloud database must first be defined. A cloud database is an organized collection of data managed and hosted in a system that lives on a cloud computing platform, which can be public, private, or a hybrid of the two. A database can be hosted on the cloud via Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Regardless of which cloud database service is being used, cloud databases are targets for breaches if modern solutions for database security in cloud computing are not in place. Legacy database security solutions focus on endpoint security technologies and network security, monitoring and protection, a defense strategy that does not defend against threats facing data once it has dispersed off-premises. Modern cloud data governance solutions address these threats by providing comprehensive data security controls.

Modern cloud database security solutions provide the data security and governance necessary for data protection in cloud computing. Solutions for data security in cloud computing protect data by providing capabilities like centralized policy-based cloud access management, consistent real time observability, identity federation, unified granular authorization policies, least privilege, and continuous monitoring and data governance in the cloud. While cloud-based data services provide greater accessibility, they tend to leave companies in the dark regarding use of their data. Cloud security governance addresses this challenge by providing visibility into who has access to what data, what the users and applications are doing with the data, and if someone is trying to steal the data.

What is Cloud Database Security Used For?

One of the greatest challenges of securing data in the cloud is the lack of a common standard for exchanging authentication and authorization information with the various data services. This results in a proliferation of shared accounts amongst engineering teams, diminished security for the DevOps and security teams, and a fragmented authorization model. This leaves companies exposed to a large security risk with a wider attack surface. Cloud database security solves this problem with the use of data security governance solutions, which enable identity federation to handle shared accounts; generate logs, metrics, and traces enriched with identity and context information for better visibility into who is accessing what data and what they did with it; and centralize authorization policies in a single place, eliminating the fragmented and broken authorization model. Cloud database security also extends authorization beyond the user level, down to the field level within the database. Users should not be able to access all information within a database e.g. social security numbers should be masked while names and addresses could be available.

What are Common Threats to Cloud Databases?

The most common cloud data security challenges are data breaches, account hijacking, and data loss. These threats may be carried out by outside attackers and/or malicious insiders.

  • data breaches: Companies without sophisticated cloud data security solutions are highly susceptible to data breaches, which result in costly non-compliance penalties and damaged customer trust. Nearly half of all data breaches in 2022 occurred in the cloud, a large portion of which was due to stolen or compromised credentials.
  • account hijacking: Phishing and exploitation of vulnerabilities in third-party software is used to steal login credentials, and results in attackers gaining access to and taking over a user’s account, which exposes all files in the user’s account and even other user accounts on the cloud.
  • data loss: Attackers that gain unauthorized access to private or sensitive data may not only view and use the data, but also delete the records completely. If all records are hosted on a central cloud-based datastore, deletions can spread to all user devices connected to the cloud at once.

Why is Cloud Database Security Important?

Database security in the cloud is more important than ever. The increased adoption of cloud computing has made it all the more critical for businesses to invest in advanced cloud computing data security solutions that can handle the unique threats facing databases on the cloud. Unintentional leaks and sophisticated cyberattacks threaten to compromise sensitive information and intellectual property on the cloud, and security threats, governance challenges, and compliance challenges associated with cloud storage have left many IT professionals wary of shifting more data and apps to the cloud. Advanced data governance in cloud computing solves these issues by extending Identity and Access Management (IAM) controls that help organizations ensure that only authorized persons are behind every action undertaken down to the database level.

Legacy database security solutions focus on a “fortress” defense strategy that builds walls and monitors all entries – this strategy is not appropriate for cloud computing. Sensitive data in cloud computing is dispersed across tens and hundreds of databases, data pipelines, and warehouses, which is why it is crucial to adopt modern cloud data governance tools that focus on merging identity management and data observability rather than on “fortress” security.

What are Cloud Database Security Best Practices?

Organizations can proactively address most cloud database security issues by implementing the following cloud database security best practices:

Implement a Culture of Shared Responsibility
In a private data center, the organization is responsible for all IT security issues. However, in a public cloud, IT security is also the responsibility of the cloud provider. In choosing a cloud vendor, businesses should review the company’s shared security obligations and determine who is responsible for certain aspects of cloud security. In addition to preventing misunderstandings and misinterpretations, clarity about responsibilities will help prevent security incidents caused by specific security needs falling through the cracks.

Ask Your Cloud Provider About Security
In addition to defining shared responsibilities, enterprises should inquire about their public cloud vendors’ security measures and processes. It may seem easy to assume that the largest vendors have their security under control, but security procedures and methods can differ dramatically from one vendor to another. Among the questions you should ask are whether or not the solution provides role-based access as well as identity and access management.

Develop and Enforce Cloud Security Policies
You should have a written policy that explains who can use cloud services, how they can be used, and what data can be stored there. It should also specify how employees should protect data and apps stored in the cloud.

Cloud Database Security and Cyral

Cyral’s cloud database security solution enables organizations to seamlessly integrate identity management and data observability, facilitating observation of any data access attempt on any repository, with the full user context, at any given time. Cyral’s cloud data access governance ensures that any access attempt triggers an instant matching of the user with their IAM groups, a reference to a single source of policy rules, and the delivery of a password through a password storage solution. All data sources can be monitored in real time without a negative impact on performance, and a single, rich source of logs is available for audits, compliance requirements, and forensics. This information can be used by security and DevOps teams for troubleshooting, forensics, and incident response. Robust data activity monitoring, policy-based cloud access control, least privilege, and identity federation capabilities provide a powerful solution that helps companies establish a secure cloud database while also improving visibility.

Learn more about Cyral’s Cloud Database Security solution here.

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