Steps for Cloud Security Assessment: Part 1

Steps for Cloud Security Assessment

Cloud environments are complex, and often, there are security gaps. Companies can conduct in-depth cloud security assessments for proper protection of such gaps.

Organizations should watch out stringently for security gaps in their cloud environment. If not mitigated, they can pose huge losses for businesses.

IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023 report highlights that

Data Breach Report 202

Security gaps and threats in the cloud can cost companies huge amounts for investigating and fixing breaches. In case of customer data breaches, regulatory bodies will also add penalties and fines to this cost.

Companies should create and conduct thorough cloud security assessments beforehand to avoid such instances.

These assessments can help companies discover their cloud vulnerabilities and may help to rectify them before the attack. A pre-emptive security assessment can prevent damage to the brand and its market standing.

Cloud security assessment focuses on these key areas:

  • Access control and management: It includes a proper review of identity and access management across user accounts, networks, and servers in the cloud.
  • Security of network: It focuses on the existing segmentation of security solutions and firewall policies against common misconfigurations.
  • Incident management: Includes a proper review of incident response plans, policies, and processes across cloud infrastructure.
  •  Overall security posture: It reviews the documentation of existing security posture and evaluates gaps, improvements, and implementation of new solutions in cloud infrastructure.
  • Security of platform services: It includes reviewing the security configuration of advanced service offerings specific to each cloud service provider.
  • Workload security: It reviews security for workloads, including server-hosted containers, virtualized servers, functions, and serverless containerized workloads.
  • Compliance: It ensures the cloud environment complies with legal requirements and industry standards. It includes HIPAA, PCI-DSS, GDPR, and regular audits.

Checking on these key points is essential to ensure the company’s safe cloud environment.

The right processes can ensure a safe cloud setup, ensuring security functions run smoothly.

1. Security of Cloud Data

Data has to be secured in transit, use, or storage. There are several ways to ensure data security in the cloud.

Strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, and role-based access controls help ensure data in the cloud.

Teams should regularly change passwords to control cloud access. They must update MFA credentials and apply different identity securities for all access controls.

These methods reduce the risks of threats and breaches to data and keep unauthorized access prompts away.

2. Identity and access management (IAM)

Security teams should implement a stringent security policy to manage identities and secure networks in the cloud.

Secondly, they should review the credentials of privileged users. This is where they can optimize the number of privileged accounts accessing business data, with only need-based access granted to users.

In addition, creating a user review schedule is helpful to assess user profiles constantly.

Thirdly, deleting expired accounts is one of the most efficient ways to assess Identity and access management (IAM). Automating the process can be even more helpful for teams to maintain the cloud environment’s security.

3. Securing Cloud Operating system

Proper configurations, regular updates, and patching methods strengthen the security of cloud OS.

Web platforms like WordPress and OS systems like Linux are highly susceptible to cyber-attacks, like brute force attacks. However, there are security tools to protect them.

Teams could use SSHGuard or Fail2Ban to begin with.

SSHGuard automatically blocks failed login attempts by:

  • The installation of SSHGuard using apt-get
  • The installation of SSH Guard requires downloading from the SSH Guard website.
  • Disable password-based login before setting up SSH key exchange
  • Add Password Authentication

At any level of cloud OS security, DDoS assaults can occur. So, companies should not disclose the Origin IP of the cloud server.

The teams should continue assessing system configuration requirements to maintain its overall security. Some of the new requirements in response to cloud security technology for assessing OS are:

  • Hardware-based encryption
  • Virtual machine (VM) high availability
  • Backup and recovery capability
  • Key management service
  • A cloud bastion host
  • Log functions

Furthermore, CDNs and firewalls can deliver better server performance and security. So, apply continuous checks and updates to run them properly. These assessment methods will ensure a secure cloud OS.

4. Data Encryption

Proper encryption of data ensures a secure cloud environment.

Security audit of data is essential to protect it from unauthorized users. Data encryption serves the same purpose, especially on a third-party server.

There are several ways to assess the security of data:

  • Encryption technology protects data across devices both during transfer and storage. Additional security assessments, like regular updates in authentication, identify unauthorized users.
  • Data encryption, while it is in use, being stored and transferred, helps maintain information privacy.
  • Digital rights management is also an efficient way to update encryptions. It also includes copyright measures and is similar to data privacy regulations.

CISOs need to upgrade every security tool regularly to ensure secure encryptions. The cloud can only safely host and secure data from attacks and breaches.

Key Steps to Perform Cloud Security Assessment

1. Evaluating your cloud environment

The first step is to understand the current security status of cloud applications. This will determine the scope of assessments.

Closely examining the cloud security environment will include:

  • Cloud policies and procedures
  • Cloud networking
  • Cloud backup and recovery
  • Security patches and updates
  • Logging/monitoring on the cloud

2. Vulnerability Testing

Vulnerability testing includes the detection of potential loopholes in the cloud assets. Here, testers come into the picture as they search for gaps.

They use several ways to do this:

  • QA tools,
  • UI testing,
  • penetration testing,
  • static application security testing (SAST),
  • Dynamic application security testing (DAST),
  • Database Security Scanning, and
  • Session Management Testing.

3. Reporting

The next step is when the output of vulnerability testing needs proper reporting. This is a crucial part of cloud security assessment.

Reporting includes the details of the risks and vulnerabilities, with a plan for necessary improvements to strengthen security.

This step includes the evaluation of firewalls, network segmentation, and web application firewalls for potential misconfigurations.

4. Implementation of controlling systems

The next step is implementing firewalls, encryption, and non-technical controls like employee training and incident response plans.

This also includes an assessment of cloud security gap remediation. Security teams can bridge gaps by:

  • Expanding security controls
  • Updating patch configurations
  • Updating firewalls
  • Monitoring user data/traffic logs
  • Re-evaluating existing cloud strategy

Also Read: Essential Cloud Security Best Practices


Whatever the size of the cloud infrastructure, it’s important to ensure the security of all devices and associated systems. They also need regular assessments and audits to ensure their continued efficacy.

Assessing your cloud setup closely will strengthen security postures and prevent threats from penetrating and harming businesses.

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