Platform as a Service Solutions Are Secure: Unless You Misconfigure Them

Technology often exposes us to the problems that would not be there in the first place if it was not for technology itself. For instance look at the massive medical advancements or unrecognizable business transformations. It becomes hard to complain about technology when you stumble upon uncountable miracles that stemmed from technological integration.

Yet, with every advancement comes more vulnerabilities, especially if its codependent on human. The human error makes the most sophisticated IT services flawed in its implementation given the huge margin for slips or plain omissions.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a case in point. We cannot negate the fact that data optimization, enabled by the multidisciplinary field of data science, has empowered businesses to maintain their successes. The role of PaaS in this inclusive revolution has remained unquestionably centric through being an interactive facilitator between corporations and customers.

There are many PaaS solutions like AWS Lambda, OpenShift, Salesforce etc., designed with simplicity, scalability, and reliability in mind that have served to completely turn around the legacy customer experience. They handle more than half of the components of customer-facing data for organizations and ensure increased personalization, improved service, and higher growth in value.

On the other hand, PaaS has also allowed individuals such as, CISOs, IT and security officers, citizen developers, and pretty much anyone who manages information technology infrastructure within an organization to take charge of its governance. It is fine as long as the professionals in question are qualified enough to do so which is often not the case.

The lack of adequate control or understanding necessary to take preemptive measures in order to mitigate security threat to the organization, both internally and externally, renders even the hands-on security framework that PaaS solutions come equipped with, ineffective. The humans fail to fulfil their part of the shared responsibility that is essential to ensure compliance, thus success for the organizations.

Let’s take a look at some real time incidences to better understand the incompatibility of human and technology. You remember that American medical collection agency (AMCA) data breach of nearly 25 million patients’ information? Or that where the healthcare technology company compromised confidential health information during server migration? Or Capital One that laid bare the personal information of credit card customers including people’ social security numbers, banking transactions and balances etc., or even that financial services corporative where 4.2 million members were affected due to one of its own employees.

All of these and more vulnerabilities were more or less caused by human error in the form of organizational administrators or developers. The intention again does not necessarily has to be malicious in any of these scenarios, if anything, the assigned IT experts fall victim when they try and help organization to the best of their knowledge.

What it shows is the failure to leverage the potential of technology driven security solutions. If implemented correctly to employ required controls in order to limit the accessibility, all of the mentioned scenarios are in fact preventable.

The vigorous security services which are provided by the PaaS are not meant to remain at ‘purchased and turned on’ but are essentially made to take actions such as; giving risk insights and avert cyber-criminal attempts.

Same is the case with organizations which frequently invest in multiple security capabilities but do not practice or facilitate the structure of governance created on the basis of real-life security threats, beyond turning the security features on due to the lack of understanding about their part of responsibility.

Misconfiguration Renders Platform as a Service Insecure

There is no questioning the remarkable security capacity that comes with PaaS, what we can and should question is the configuration means or implementation practices that make the whole service insecure. It is usually the case of data governance slacking on the priority list. One of the common reasons for organizational vulnerabilities is unwanted sources or whole of the organization having an unrestricted accessibility to the data stored on the platform. You cannot just grant executive access to anyone and everyone in the company and be shocked when the raging crisis runs its havoc.

The good news is that the rectification of these prevalent blunders is more than possible. The first step you need to take is to determine the nature of the data that is stored on the PaaS of the enterprise. So you can device a competent data management plan to streamline and account everything ranging from in-house compliance to the responsibilities of shareholder.

How to ensure full-proof security

Imagine what ethical hackers do, or what Netflix’s ChaosMonkey resilience tool does; they are not essentially the same in method, but they could not be more similar in objective. Assess your platform security to locate any weakness and patch it up stronger than before.

Do not for one second believe that you have earned any laurel to rest on, if anything the real challenges begin with incessant risk assessment, security updates, performance evaluation etc. Once you are sufficiently confident of the ongoing security assessment, implement the following few steps to ensure full-proof security of your platform:

  • Isolate controlling components: The first step toward ascertaining absolute security is to narrow down on accessibility lines. Isolate those with all levels of control over your PaaS data and assess the standing situation. In unfortunate event of not finding anyone at all, you should start to think in the direction of having a grave problem at hand.
  • Data Detangling: It is one tedious task to sort and organize the data inventory but there is just no way around determining the kind of data you have stored and what it means to you or the company. An organization will give lead and context in terms of the value so that you can deploy adequate controls to prevent any threat. 
  • Screen the Access: Restricted access in to your PaaS platform’s information is your half the battle won, imagine how effective screening the ones with the authorized access can prove to be. The content they access or the time they access the data at, all of adds up generating digital trails to provide you with an up to date status of your security measures. 

It not easy to maintain cloud computing all the time but given the ongoing transition along with the future prospects, it is here to stay whether you like it or not. The tremendous benefits alone make the trouble of upkeep worth every bit of effort. 

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