Cloud Workload Security

Schuyler Brown
Co-founder / CCO
Last updated on: November 9, 2022

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What is Cloud Workload Security?
Cloud workload security is the practice of securing applications and their composite workloads running in the cloud. Examples of cloud workloads include applications, virtual machines, containers, databases, and services. It is necessary to protect all cloud workloads to guard against attacks and comply with regulations.

Cloud applications typically are composed of more parts–workloads–than traditional on-premises applications. This increases possible points of attack or exploitation and necessitates a new kind of application security.

While traditional application security centers around the network and infrastructure, cloud applications feature more vulnerabilities (APIs, services, third-party code, for example) Attackers can exploit these vulnerabilities–using compromised applications or credentials–to steal sensitive data or disrupt service. This means that security must be applied to the application code as well as the application environment. 

Cloud security is usually a shared responsibility between the cloud service provider and the customer. The provider typically manages the security of the lower-level infrastructure (cloud compute, storage, and networking services), while the customer is responsible for the upper layer (including applications, workloads, data, and guest operating systems).

Cloud Workload Security Best Practices

Cloud customers must implement protective measures for the application and all of its workloads. This is crucial in order to guard against security risks to applications and data. Some typical cloud workload security best practices include the following.

Securing the cloud management console

Cloud management consoles enable account administration, service configuring, and monitoring, and are a common target for attackers. Close monitoring of privileged access to the console is necessary to prevent attacks.

Protecting virtual infrastructure

Cloud resources, like containers, virtual servers, and data stores are also a frequent target.   Strong, policy-based security practices can prevent unauthorized access.

Security validation and testing during development

This “shift left” practice allows DevOps teams to discover and remedy vulnerabilities before applications and workloads are deployed in production.

Use of a web application and API precaution (WAAP) solution at runtime

Applications accessible via the web and cloud APIs are both increasingly common targets of cyberattacks. WAAP solutions can help protect them from exploitation.

Cloud Workload Security Key Takeaways:

  • Cloud applications are made of more parts than traditional apps and require different security methods. 
  • Each cloud workload composing an application (VMs, containers, databases, services, for example.) is exploitable and must be protected.  
  • Cloud service providers usually secure basic infrastructure (compute, networking, storage); customers typically must secure applications, data, workloads, etc. 
  • Cloud customers must follow numerous cloud workload security best practices to protect their applications and data.

About the Author

, Co-founder / CCO, began working with startups as one of the first employees at Cross Commerce Media. Since then, he has worked at the venture capital firms DFJ Gotham and High Peaks Venture Partners. He is also the host of Founders@Fail and author of Inc.com's "Failing Forward" column, where he interviews veteran entrepreneurs about the bumps, bruises, and reality of life in the startup trenches. His leadership philosophy: be humble enough to realize you don’t know everything and curious enough to want to learn more. He holds a B.A. and M.B.A. from Columbia University. To contact Schuyler, visit him on LinkedIn.

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