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Cloud data leaks compounded by lack of automation tools

Data leaks caused by misconfigured clouds are being compounded because security teams lack appropriate automation and integration tools, according to a report

Although misconfigurations due to user error or downright negligence are one of the top reported vulnerabilities in cloud environments, many enterprises are still using manual processes to manage their hybrid clouds, and a lack of access to appropriate automation and security integration tools is compounding the problem, according to a FireMon report.

FireMon’s second annual State of hybrid cloud security report revealed that a third of organisations said misconfigurations and human-introduced errors were the biggest threat to their hybrid cloud environments, but 73.5% of this group were still using manual processes to manage security (65.4% of all respondents).

“As companies around the world undergo digital transformations and migrate to the cloud, they need better visibility to reduce network complexity and strengthen security postures,” said Tim Woods, FireMon’s vice-president of technology alliances.

“It is shocking to see the lack of automation being used across the cloud security landscape, especially in light of the escalating risk around misconfigurations as enterprises cut security resources.”

FireMon quizzed more than 500 people, 14% of them in security leadership roles, and found that the lack of automation and integration across disparate tools made it harder for resource-limited teams to secure their clouds, and as such just under a quarter said the lack of a centralised, global view of information from their security tools was the biggest challenge to managing multiple network security tools.

The firm said the use of automated network security tools, robust application programming interface (API) structures and public cloud integrations could help struggling security teams take back real-time control across their environments, minimising challenges created by manual processes, complexity and lack of visibility. It might also help get around shrinking security budgets and the well-documented security skills shortage.

“It is shocking to see the lack of automation being used across the cloud security landscape, especially in light of the escalating risk around misconfigurations as enterprises cut security resources”
Tim Woods, FireMon

The report also found that for the majority (60%) of respondents, the pace of cloud deployments is surpassing their ability to lock down their networks in a timely manner. The number of different suppliers and enforcement points needed to secure cloud networks is also increasing, with close to 80% using two or more enforcement points, up substantially on the year-ago figure. At the same time, almost half said they were using two or more public cloud platforms, further increasing complexity and affecting visibility.

Respondents to the survey also reported shrinking budgets as a factor creating gaps in their overall protection. The past 12 months saw a 20.7% increase in the number of organisations spending less than a quarter of their total security budget on cloud protection, to 78.2%. Almost half of this group spent less than 10% of their total security budget on their cloud.

Reflecting other observations on stress, mental health and burnout among chief information security officers (CISOs), FireMon also found that while attack surfaces and breach potential expanded in the cloud, many organisations have cut their security teams back, reducing their effectiveness and increasing their stress and, crucially, potential for error. A majority of respondents (69.5%), were working in teams of under 10 people, compared with 52% this time last year, and the number of five-person security teams had nearly doubled to 45.2%.

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