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Six Tips for Segregating and Securing Your Dev, Testing and Production Environments

Six Tips for Segregating and Securing Your Dev, Testing and Production Environments

Blog Article Published: 01/23/2024

Originally published by Tenable.

Written by Moshe Ben Dahan.

As organizations move applications and data to the cloud, a key challenge they face is how to segregate their cloud environments, especially when it comes to development, testing and production. It’s worth overcoming the challenge, because segregation offers many security benefits. In this post, we'll explore the importance of segregation in the cloud and best practices for implementation.

Why Segregate Your Cloud Environment?

Segregating cloud environments is important for various reasons. First, it helps prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data and applications. For example, a developer should not have access to production data or systems, as such access could lead to accidental or intentional data breaches. Second, segregation helps minimize the blast radius and potential impact should a data breach occur. For example, an attacker gaining access to a development environment should not be able to use those access rights to compromise production systems; you’ll want guardrails that prevent this. Also, applying segregation can streamline compliance efforts. Different environments may have different compliance requirements; by separating them, you can make it easier for teams to manage and demonstrate compliance.

And while segregating your cloud environments, consider making the lower environments, such as testing and staging, identical to the production environment. This approach gives you an excellent way to test that security controls, such as service control policies (SCPs) in AWS, do not break functionality in pre-production environments. Being able to ensure smooth sailing in lower environments gives greater security confidence when deploying to the production environment.

Six recommendations for making your different cloud environments more secure

Segregate cloud environments

It's crucial to segregate your different cloud environments to avoid unwanted changes or interference between them. This means that each environment should have its own resources, such as computing, storage and network. Doing so minimizes the risk of a malicious actor moving from low-level accounts to critical high-level production accounts.

Cloud Access Control

One of the most important aspects of securing a cloud environment is access control. As a cardinal rule, you should give users access to only the environments and resources needed to do their jobs. For example, developers should only have access to development environments, and only authorized personnel should have access to production systems. You should also utilize fine-grained permission control, which enables you to grant or revoke access to critical systems and data according to multiple conditions.

Encrypt your sensitive data

Encryption can help protect data in transit and at rest. Encrypt all sensitive data, using strong algorithms – and take care to manage your encryption keys carefully.

Network Segmentation

Network segmentation involves dividing a network into smaller subnetworks to isolate different groups of users and resources. This segmentation can help prevent lateral movement by attackers and minimize the impact of any security incidents.

Monitoring and logging for incidents detection

Monitoring and logging can help teams detect and respond to security incidents quickly. Try to automate monitoring of all environments for suspicious activity and retain logs for a sufficient period of time (at least six months, depending on the type of log) to allow for forensic analysis.

Patch Management

Let’s face it: no matter how tight your cloud security ship is, vulnerabilities are going to slip through. Keeping systems and applications up to date with the latest security patches is essential for preventing known vulnerabilities from being exploited.

Summary on Segregating Cloud Environments

Segregating cloud environments is critical for ensuring the security of sensitive data and applications. By following the security best practices of access control, encryption, network segmentation, monitoring and logging, and patch management, organizations can help minimize the risk of security incidents in their cloud environments and demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements, such as the new cybersecurity disclosure rules from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Specifically, by segregating your cloud environments and implementing relevant security processes and automation, you can prevent unauthorized access, minimize the impact of security incidents, such as by reducing the blast radius, and streamline compliance. With careful planning and implementation of these best practices, and collaboration among all involved, you can handily navigate the rough seas to continuously secure your cloud environments from development to production.

For strategies and best practices for optimizing your cloud environment, watch Tenable’s on-demand webinar “Cloud Security Master Class.”

About the Author

Moshe Ben Dahan is a senior cloud solutions architect at Tenable, with his role focused on customer success. He has more than 15 years’ experience in the security industry, including customer-facing positions with Innocom, Taldor, Imperva and Cisco. Moshe holds multiple certifications in cloud infrastructure and security, including in AWS IAM and solutions architecture, Google cloud security, and web security and networking.

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