According to Statista, the global cloud applications market is expected to reach 168.6 billion U.S. dollars by 2025, up from 146.6 billion in 2022. This is very good news—for cybercriminals. Transitioning to the cloud brings some security concerns. For example, it increases the amount of data that businesses generate, which is more challenging to manage securely. Additionally, cloud application development integrates with other cloud services, APIs, and third-party components, increasing the attack surface.
So, as more organizations transition to the cloud, malicious actors get more opportunities to exploit security vulnerabilities and launch cyberattacks.
That is why security and compliance in cloud applications are a top priority for most organizations. According to the 2022 Technology Spending Intentions Survey, almost two-thirds of the respondents planned to increase cloud application spending in 2023.
Security and Compliance in Cloud Application Development
Security in cloud application development refers to the measures organizations implement to protect their cloud applications and data from cyber threats. Compliance involves adhering to all legal, regulatory, and industry standards relating to security, privacy, and other obligations.
In addition, the lifecycle of an application typically involves several stages. It starts with planning and designing, goes through development and coding, and ends with deployment and updating. Ensuring security and compliance is an ongoing process throughout the lifecycle.
However, security and compliance are more crucial in the application development stage for the reasons below:
- Lays a strong foundation for a secure and compliant application.
- Detects and prevents potential vulnerabilities and risks early.
- Integrates security controls directly into the application’s architecture, which is more cost and time efficient than fixing a complete product.
- Reduces the risk of non-compliance as the application is compliant by design.
Security and compliance in cloud applications are shared responsibilities between the organization and the cloud application development company. But the cloud application development company plays a more critical role. However, according to a survey by Snyk, only over 36% of developers believe it’s their responsibility. Meaning several cloud applications currently in use could have severe security vulnerabilities because developers believed it’s not up to them.
Ensuring security and compliance in the development stage can help developers mitigate the cloud security risks and threats below.
Cloud Security Risks and Threats to Mitigate During Development
Security risks and threats that developers can mitigate during cloud application development include the following:
Inadequate Access Controls and Authentication Mechanisms
Weak or misconfigured access controls and authentication mechanisms can lead to unauthorized access, resulting in data breaches. Data breaches can lead to the loss of sensitive information, which can damage an organization’s reputation and cause financial and legal consequences.
Additionally, developers should implement strong authentication methods like least privilege access, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and Identity access management (IAM). They can also restrict authorized access by implementing tools like firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and network activity monitoring.
Data Breaches and Data Loss
Insufficient or weak data protection measures, vulnerabilities in the application code, and insider threats can lead to data breaches and loss. Data breaches and losses can also lead to financial impacts, legal penalties, reputation damage, and customer trust.
Developers can mitigate the risk of data breaches and loss by preventing vulnerabilities using secure coding practices, encrypting data in transit and storage, and implementing solid data backup and recovery mechanisms.
Insecure APIs and Integrations
Malicious actors can exploit insecure APIs and integrations to gain unauthorized access to systems and applications. For example, they can brute force a weak password used by an API to communicate with other elements and steal sensitive data.
Developers can ensure cyber criminals don’t exploit their integrations and applications through secure coding practices and continuous monitoring of suspicious activities. They can also use unique keys for each API, log and monitor API behavior, and implement authentication and authorization features in APIs.
Insufficient Data Encryption and Privacy Controls
Insufficient data encryption and privacy controls can result in non-compliance with data protection regulations and unauthorized access to sensitive data. Also, exposure to customer-sensitive data can result in identity theft, phone scams, legal consequences, regulatory fines, etc.
Developers should use strong encryption algorithms, implement access controls, and comply with all the privacy regulations, such as CCPA and GDPR.
Unmanaged Data Sharing
Unmanaged or poor data sharing management can result in data leaks and loss of control over an organization’s sensitive data. Developers can ensure safe data sharing by implementing end-to-end data encryption, setting link expiry dates, and monitoring data flow into and out of the cloud application.
Addressing these security risks and threats during development ensures the application is secure and compliant.
Best Practices for Cloud Security and Compliance
Both organizations and cloud application development companies can help ensure compliance and security in cloud computing through the following tips and best practices.
- Implement robust access controls to avoid unauthorized access to resources and sensitive data.
- Integrate automated security testing into the application development process throughout the continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) process. It will ensure each application is secure before deploying it into the cloud.
- Utilize encryption techniques to protect data in transit, at rest, and in use to prevent unauthorized access if the data is compromised.
- Conduct regular security assessments to identify arising security weaknesses and areas you should improve.
- Keep all software components, from operating systems to applications, updated. It will ensure you have the latest version that has addressed known vulnerabilities.
- Monitor your cloud applications and infrastructure through intrusion detection systems, log analysis, and security event monitoring.
- Comply with all relevant data protection and privacy regulations to improve your security. List all requirements you must comply with depending on your services, business, and location and design compliance strategies.
- If your organization is working with third-party vendors, perform thorough due diligence to assess their security. It will ensure your and their security features align effectively.
By following these tips and best practices, organizations and cloud application development services providers can ensure their cloud applications are secure and compliant.
Importance of Encryption and Data Protection in Cloud Applications
Data protection involves implementing security measures like encryption to prevent unauthorized access or loss of data.
Encryption converts readable data into an encoded form that cannot be understood even if someone gains access. Encryption uses cryptographic keys and mathematical functions to encrypt and decrypt the data for use.
Data protection and encryption are important because they ensure the following:
Encrypted data remains confidential because it cannot be deciphered without the encryption keys. So, in case of a data breach or unauthorized access, encryption reduces the potential damage caused by exposure to sensitive information.
Encryption in cloud applications can help organizations and cloud application development companies like Practical Logix comply with data protection laws. Some areas also mandate the use of encryption for certain types of data.
It is easy to detect encrypted data that has been modified or tampered with because it won’t match the decryption result. So, encryption ensures the integrity of data within cloud applications.
Users are increasingly concerned about the security of their information. By implementing data protection techniques like encryption, businesses demonstrate their commitment to protecting customer information, fostering a sense of trust.
In addition, data protection measures like encryption are essential for security and compliance in application development. They ensure cloud application data remains secure throughout its lifecycle. There are three areas of encryption that cloud application developers must get right:
- Encryption at rest: Encrypting stored data.
- Encryption in flight: Encrypting data as it flows from system to system. Data is most vulnerable in flight.
- Encryption in use: Encrypting data that is in use.
Ensure Cloud Security and Compliance in Third-Party Integrations
Third-party integration involves a cloud application connecting and interacting with an external service or platform from a third-party vendor. For example, a cloud-based project management application like Asana integrates with Google Drive to seamlessly attach files from Google Drive as tasks or projects in Asana.
Cloud applications need third-party integrations to leverage other services, streamline workflows, and extend their capabilities. But integrations introduce security risks like data leakage due to misconfiguration and unauthorized access to sensitive data. Here are some tips on reducing these risks and ensuring cloud security and compliance in third-party integrations.
- Conduct thorough vendor evaluation and security assessment before integrating third-party products or services into your application. Ensure they have robust security practices and a good security track record. You can conduct penetration testing, code reviews, and vulnerability assessments.
- Ensure third-party APIs adhere to robust security standards. They should employ data protection techniques like encryption, authentication mechanisms, and access controls. Check the API documentation to understand how to interact with their services securely.
- Understand how the third-party handles and processes data to ensure they follow data regulations and have transparent data handling practices.
- Establish service-level agreements to specify each party’s roles, responsibilities, expectations, etc.
- Regularly monitor the security of the integration by implementing intrusion detection systems, log analysis, and other strategies to detect potential issues.
- Define clear incident response plans that cover security incidents involving the integration. It will help you ensure a coordinated response to mitigate the potential impact.
- Keep track of all security updates and patches that the third-party releases to minimize vulnerabilities.
These measures can help organizations and cloud application development services providers enhance the security and compliance of their cloud applications when integrating with third-party services.
Conduct Regular Security Audits and Risk Assessments for Cloud Applications
A security audit is a process that examines the security controls, policies, and procedures of an application. The objective of a security audit is to assess the effectiveness of the application’s security and identify any vulnerabilities. Security audits can involve:
- Security configurations reviews
- Access controls analysis
- Vulnerability assessment
- Examining security incident response procedures
- Validating compliance with relevant standards
Risk assessment involves identifying and analyzing potential risks and threats that could impact the cloud application and its data. It considers the likelihood of each risk occurring and its potential impact on the organization and its customers. Risk assessment may involve:
- Reviewing security controls
- Analyzing threat landscapes
- Assessing business impacts
Risk assessment aims to rank risks and develop mitigation strategies depending on the likelihood of occurrence and severity of impact. It also helps organizations take corrective measures before malicious actors exploit the risks.
Conducting risk assessments and security audits can help organizations develop detailed and effective incident response plans to minimize the impact of security incidents. They also identify compliance gaps and other areas that need improvement in organizations and their third-party vendors.
Ensure Security and Compliance in Cloud Application Development With Practical Logix
As more organizations transition to cloud systems, cybercriminals, and other malicious actors get more opportunities to launch successful cyberattacks.
To reduce the growing risk of cybersecurity incidents like data breaches, you must ensure security and compliance in cloud application development. This involves mitigating security risks and threats during development, implementing data protection measures like encryption, ensuring security in third-party integrations, and conducting regular security audits and risk assessments for cloud applications.
It is a complex process you must go through to create a secure cloud environment. But you can outsource it to Practical Logix.
Practical Logix is a software development company committed to implementing next-generation solutions and strategies that scale to support future requirements and are highly modular for better efficiency and maintenance. We love writing quality software that answers real business and real-world problems. Also, we bring artistry, strategy, and engineering to create the best software solutions for today and tomorrow.
We can help you create secure cloud applications. Contact us today to learn more about our services.