Recent cybersecurity buzz is centered around a new remote code execution vulnerability. Dubbed Spring4Shell, it is the second very high vulnerability discovered in recent months after the Log4Shell RCE was found in the Log4j Java library last November. The overriding concern, of course, is that depending on the severity, effective remediation will require identifying and updating all the projects that leverage the widely used Spring framework.

High profile vulnerabilities like these are a stark reminder of the distinctive security issues that accompany increasingly cloud-based operations and the unique challenge of preventing cyberthreats in highly interconnected environments.

Enterprise migration to the cloud accelerated dramatically in recent years in response to pandemic disruption. Desperate for business continuity in the face of sudden public health restrictions, commercial and government organizations alike moved operations onto cloud infrastructure. Remote workers became mainstream and virtual desktops connecting through at-home networks replaced the ubiquitous open-office layout.

This cloud revolution is likely here to stay. Gartner predicts that “more than 85% of organizations will embrace a cloud-first principle by 2025 and will not be able to fully execute on their digital strategies without the use of cloud-native architectures and technologies.” Gartner further estimates that “by 2025 over 90% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud native platforms, up from 30% in 2021.”

Cloud capabilities have fundamentally changed the way businesses operate by providing the foundation for increased efficiency, agility, productivity, and innovation. But transitioning operations to the cloud has significantly expanded the attack surface vulnerable to threat actors. Cybersecurity researchers at Zscaler recently analyzed the networks of 1,500 companies. They found thousands of vulnerabilities including exposed servers, ports, and cloud instances. The biggest companies in the study averaged 468 exposed servers. Larger global companies were at greatest risk due to the number and wide geographic distribution of their employees.

The rapid adoption of cloud infrastructure has also opened blind spots in organizations’ security posture. For many organizations productivity and business continuity have been paramount concerns, leaving security as secondary. This has resulted in higher frequencies of misconfigurations of cloud platforms and insecure interfaces / APIs. Adding to the problem was the increase in organizations with multiple cloud deployment strategies. In a recent survey by Cybersecurity Insiders, 90% of organizations queried used two or more cloud providers with 50% using three or more. These organizations were tasked with the additional challenges of ensuring data protection and privacy for each environment and understanding how the different solutions fit together.

While the security challenges of cloud computing are daunting, the commitment to confront them is growing. In a 2021 IDC survey, 85% of organizations reported rising expenditures on security with significant portions allocated to cloud infrastructures. In its State of the Cloud Native Security Report 2022, Palo Alto Networks also found a rise in respondents spending more than 20% of their cloud budget on security as well as a substantial expansion in organizations’ cloud security teams.

Cloud service providers and independent cloud security companies are also developing increasingly sophisticated tools to help organizations meet their cloud security needs. Providers, for example, are facilitating zero trust architectures by utilizing built-in tenant isolation and least privilege access in the cloud security architecture coupled with built-in identity and access management to control cloud access. AI / ML tools are being applied to enhance proactive threat detection and remediation systems. These systems automate data protection and security and automatically patch anomalies helping companies reduce the workload on security teams. Finally, modern cloud security platforms offer consolidated data views even for organizations with complex, multi-cloud, multi-service environments creating a single, more easily monitored, and digestible source for threat information.

The rise of remote work during the pandemic marked a watershed moment in cloud adoption. According to a recent survey, the average workloads hosted in the Cloud jumped to 59% in 2021, up from 46% a year earlier, while 69% of organizations hosted more than half of their workloads in the cloud by 2021, up from just 31% in 2020. This is a dramatic acceleration in usage that is highly unlikely to be reversed.

As cloud technologies continue to proliferate across organizations of all sizes, securing that infrastructure and the data across it will remain an increasingly critical task. Expanding attack surfaces and dissolution of the traditional perimeter defenses require new and innovative approaches to data defense and cybersecurity. At BlueWing, we are excited to support companies forging new advancements in cloud security.