Attacks and misconfigurations are an inevitable part of the PaaS architecture. Many businesses are spending thousands of dollars on software security solutions to prevent such attacks. However, most attacks can be avoided if a sound strategy on configuration and access management is applied.
Securing sensitive user data before it’s accessed by an application layer in PaaS can lower the security risks. Attacks such as hyperjacking or hypervisor are unavoidable, but certain steps can minimize the damage caused by the attack. The following steps wouldn’t completely nullify all the attacks but will localize the damage:
A) Assign a value to data: Before joining the cloud or even before entering into an agreement with a provider, determine the value of the data that you will be storing in the cloud. Sensitive business or user information should never be directly copy-pasted on the shared environment. Defining the sensitivity of data in levels can assist businesses in segregating the data.
B) Encrypt your data: Encrypting your data won’t guarantee security, but it will help achieve the required privacy. Encryption is the mechanism deployed to restrict access to the data through access management solutions. Man-in-the-middle types of attacks can be damaging if the key access is not strategized to define access.
C) Least privilege rule: All the users should be granted the least amount of privileges to run the applications or data access. Software developers who have developed the software in-house with granted privileged access should be on isolated hosts. The cloud model creates and destroys a temporary environment. Therefore, mistakes and bugs can offer potential loopholes in the complete system, and failure to maintain the platform will result in a data breach.
Negotiating the Service Level Agreement (SLA):
SLA goes beyond the scenario of data availability and performance. It is directly related to the value of the data. So if sensitive data is lost or compromised; the SLA will provide the terms for remuneration to cover the losses caused due to breach. An SLA agreement should highlight all the crucial terms for effective management of data and payment during a breach, and also cover for the disaster recovery solution.
Cloud services are paid on a usage basis, which means that the finance and IT departments need to implement a monitoring tool, which records the minutest details about the various services being used and its associated costs. Cloud Service Providers (CSP) have their dashboards that give complete details about the multiple resources used. But in case of a dispute, an independent audit trail can act as a proof of resource demand. Auditing helps fill the gap that exists in the governance, bringing required regulations and approvals to be complied with before investing in cloud resources.
Does the cloud vendor have a proper infrastructure in place when it comes to data backup and service recovery during a disaster? It should be well inspected before investing in a PaaS solution. To make the disaster recovery a comprehensive solution, vendors deploy various PaaS providers in different locations. An outage is also a major challenge that businesses face during scalability, or during load transfer. What will be the solution for outage or recovery time during a disaster should be one of the pertinent points to be added to the SLA.
Managing Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC):
The application developers need to scrutinize the vendor about various steps that need to be followed before an application is completely shifted from the on-premise environment or traditional cloud platform to a PaaS environment. The tools used to develop the application might not be available on the PaaS vendor platform. So what alternatives can be applied? How often are the tools upgraded, and how will the data segregation be a part of it? Testing and development will be 2 completely different requirements and will the PaaS environment satisfy the requirement?
Questions to be raised before adopting a PaaS solution:
PaaS follows an unpredictable pricing structure, while traditional hosting platforms tend to be mostly linear. PaaS costing can be a challenge because most providers offer an automatic scaling feature. Many PaaS vendors offer different billing models, such as Bring Your Own License, Universal Credits, Pay As You Go, and Monthly Flex. PaaS has a shared environment rather than an on-premise infrastructure, so there is a trade-off between control and access management, and scalability. Organizations need to decide which of the applications will be best suited for the PaaS environment and will benefit from the flexible environment.
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