All You Need to Know about Cloud Security Services

With traditional IT infrastructures becoming increasingly unsuitable for a growing number of business needs, more organizations are turning to the cloud for answers. But while cloud environments certainly offer capable solutions, they also attract a new set of risks that organizations are not prepared to deal with. To mitigate those risks without losing focus on their core businesses, organizations should leverage cloud security services.

In this post, we discuss the definition of cloud security services, best practices in using them, and enhancement of their effectiveness when delivering cloud-hosted virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) including both desktops and applications.

What Are Cloud Security Services?

Cloud security services are a set of services designed to mitigate risk and improve compliance of cloud environments. Since these environments can be quite complex, involving a wide range of technologies and processes and, at the same time, exposed to a variety of threats, they can’t be protected by a one-size-fits-all solution. Rather, most of these services tackle specific areas. We’ll elaborate on that in a moment.

Technically speaking, these services are actually managed cloud-security services, meaning, they’re managed and operated by third parties. Offloading security operations to a third party has several benefits, including:

  • Threats can be monitored, detected, and responded to by experts who actually know what to do. This ensures threats are dealt with properly and completely.
  • Managed cloud security services providers are usually also trained to help organizations achieve regulatory compliance—an area that’s normally also outside of an organization’s expertise.
  • Your IT staff no longer have to handle cyber incidents and can focus instead on supporting your core business operations.

What Are Some Types of Cloud Security Services?

Cloud environments can be quite complex, consisting of a mishmash of technologies and processes. At the same time, they’re exposed to a wide range of threats. Hence, you normally don’t find a one-size-fits-all cloud security service. Rather, most of these services tackle specific areas. Some of the most common types of cloud security services include data loss prevention (DLP), identity and access management (IAM), email security, web security, and intrusion detection.

Data Loss Prevention

With so much data being uploaded to and generated by cloud services, and with so many applications and devices accessing that data, the chance of data loss is enormous. DLP services are built to detect the presence of sensitive data—credit card data, electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI), social security numbers, etc.—and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

Identity and Access Management

IAM services ensure that users adhere to the principle of least privilege, meaning they force users to access cloud resources and perform actions that are permissible to their designated role or function. For instance, an ordinary user shouldn’t be able to create instances or delete snapshots. An IAM service can enforce that policy. By using an IAM service, administrators can create permission policies and then associate them with a user or group of users.

Email Security

As the weakest link in the security chain, users are often the targets in cyberattacks. And because practically all users use email, many of these attacks—such as phishing and Trojans—are carried out through that medium. Some of these attacks may compromise your cloud environment. For instance, a spear phishing attack may be aimed at acquiring cloud administrator credentials. One way to mitigate these threats is by employing a capable email security service that can detect phishing emails and malicious attachments.

Web Security

Increased usage of cloud services is an added burden to IT administrators, who now have to deal with a much larger attack surface. Users access cloud services from different locations—in their headquarters, at home, in branch offices, or just about anywhere. Web security solutions, which sit between users (regardless of location) and the internet in typical scenarios, provide administrators the means to secure these connections and protect them against cyber threats.

Intrusion Detection

Intrusion-detection solutions monitor inbound and outbound traffic for suspicious activities and detect potential threats. Usually, detection is done through pattern recognition mechanisms that identify specific signatures and behaviors. Traditional intrusion detection is usually applied to the network layer. However, we’re now seeing more solutions applying this kind of protection to the host layer (i.e., to the virtual machines themselves). By detecting threats before they can exploit vulnerabilities, businesses can prevent threat actors from establishing a beachhead in the targeted system.

What about Security Information and Event Management?

A Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution collects log and event data from various security tools and network devices (e.g., antivirus solutions, DLP software, intrusion detection solutions, firewalls, routers, switches) in real-time, correlates all aggregated data, and then generates alerts based on predefined rules. It’s one of the key tools of threat detection and incident response teams, enabling them to respond quickly to threats.


Encryption, which protects data by rendering it unreadable, is a highly sought security control, not only because it preserves data confidentiality, but also because this functionality is one of the basic requirements for compliance with data privacy/protection laws and regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

What about Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery?

Despite the high availability (HA) capabilities of cloud environments, unforeseen events can still disrupt business operations. A server instance may fail, ransomware may encrypt files in your cloud storage, a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack may render your services unreachable, and so on. Business continuity and disaster recovery services can help ensure you can continue doing business as usual or recover in the quickest possible time should an unforeseen disruptive event occur.

Can Cloud Security Services Help with Network Security?

We all know that scalability is a key characteristic of the cloud. Internet as a Service (IaaS) users can spin up a bunch of servers with ease. Auto-scaling takes that capability even further by enabling organizations to deploy hundreds if not thousands of instances rapidly, again with relative ease. But that scalability comes with a cost. It now means IT teams have a much larger attack surface to secure, a responsibility that’s made even more challenging with the increased adoption of more complex hybrid cloud infrastructures. Network security services help businesses address vulnerabilities in user-to-cloud as well as intra-cloud and inter-cloud data exchanges.

What Are Best Practices when Using Cloud Security Services?

With so many different cloud security services in the market today, it can be difficult to put them together into an effective layer of defense. In the following subsections, we’ll share with you some best practices that will help you make the most of using cloud security services.

Recognize Your Shared Security Responsibility Model

Before you embark on any cloud security program, it’s important to understand your role in the shared security responsibility model. It defines what portions of the cloud environment are your responsibility and which ones are for your cloud provider. Generally speaking, your provider will oversee the security of the cloud, and you will be responsible for security in the cloud.

Different cloud service offerings like Software as a Service (SaaS) and IaaS have different takes on this model, so make sure you’re looking at the right one. Your provider should have this information.

Clarify Concerns about Security Measures and Procedures in Place

While large cloud providers have several security controls in place, the presence of these controls and the extent of their coverage may vary from one provider to another. Hence, it’s important to know exactly which controls exist as well as the details pertinent to these controls.

What’s their disaster recovery plan? Do they have information that maps their security controls with specific regulatory requirements? What access control, encryption, and backup mechanisms are readily available? What is the extent of their technical support? Do they have 24/7 support? These are some of the questions you should ask.

Utilize an Identity and Access Management Solution

The 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report identified cloud misconfigurations as the third-most common initial attack vectors. What’s alarming is that many of these misconfigurations aren’t even intentional. One way to minimize this particular risk is to limit privileged access to only those who absolutely need it. Better yet, limit the scope of administrative functions to specific administrators. Conversely, you shouldn’t be granting absolute administrative rights to just one person. All this can be achieved by using an IAM solution.

Train Employees to Recognize Threats

Since users are the weakest link in the security chain, something must be done to strengthen that link. Otherwise, your cloud security initiatives will only go to waste. Now, since it’s their lack of security awareness that’s likely exposing them to threats, education is the best solution.

Ensure all your users undergo security awareness training, and keep them updated with the latest threats, particularly those that target end users (e.g., phishing, spear phishing, and other social engineering attacks). You can even incorporate it into your onboarding process so that they can be equipped with the right mindset from day one.

Document and Apply Cloud Security Policies

To facilitate a smooth implementation of your cloud security program, document all relevant policies, processes, and procedures. These will serve as guard rails for all members of your organization to follow. However, those policies shouldn’t be left to gather dust. Leadership must take it upon themselves to inspire employee buy-in and spearhead the implementation of those security policies.

Automated In-Depth Defense Strategy

Current cyber threats operate mostly with a high degree of sophistication. Thus, for your cloud security services to be effective against them, you need to incorporate them into an in-depth defense strategy. This means a strategy that layers several security mechanisms that can counter sophisticated threats should one defense fail.

For greater efficacy, those security solutions should be integrated, automated, and orchestrated. This will eliminate manual and time-consuming processes, streamline security operations, optimize threat monitoring, ensure faster detection and incident response, and lower the total cost of ownership (TCO).

Outsource Your Cloud Service Security

Not all organizations have dedicated cybersecurity teams, let alone a full-fledged security operations center (SOC), that can architect and implement a defense-in-depth strategy as well as manage its cloud security solutions and take charge of threat monitoring, detection, and response.

If you lack (or have no) in-house cybersecurity staff, the best option would be to outsource cloud security services. Third parties such as managed security service providers (MSSPs) can manage existing cloud security services and also offer cloud security services themselves. By outsourcing your security responsibilities, you can focus more on your core business.

Parallels RAS: Virtualize Your Infrastructure, and Enhance Your Cloud Security

As businesses increase the adoption of remote and hybrid work environments, cloud-based applications and desktops are taking center stage more often. This is giving rise to cloud-ready VDI solutions such as Parallels® Remote Applications Server. There are several advantages of using a VDI solution like Parallels RAS, especially from a cloud security standpoint.

Superior Encryption

Data-in-motion encryption is an essential security control in any cloud-based use case. That’s because user sessions usually pass through the internet and, hence, are exposed to several network-based threats such as man-in-the-middle attacks. Parallels RAS protects these sessions with strong Transport Layer Security/Secure Sockets Layer (SSL/TLS) encryption and uses cryptographic elements that comply with the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 to provide enterprise-grade security and hide confidential information from network eavesdroppers.

Monitoring Tools

Parallels RAS also provides monitoring tools that enable IT administrators to gain in-depth visibility into user sessions. This allows them to monitor what users are doing on the network. In addition, Parallels RAS also auto-baselines its VDI environment. You can use this to trigger alert notifications should user activities deviate from the baseline, i.e., when abnormal actions are detected.

Hardened Access with Multifactor Authentication

Since users access cloud-based VDI desktops and applications remotely from any device, it’s important to make sure that the person logging in is really who that user claims to be. Parallels RAS mitigates the risk of unauthorized logins by adding several multifactor authentication (MFA) options, including Azure MFA, Duo, FortiAuthenticator, TekRADIUS, RADIUS, Deepnet, Google Authenticator, or Gemalto (formerly SafeNet). With MFA, even if a threat actor manages to acquire a legitimate user’s login password, that person will still be unable to log in if the second factor fails to match what Parallels RAS expects.

Advanced Permissions Filtering

In addition to MFA, Parallels RAS further minimizes the chances of unauthorized access by enabling administrators to create granular filtering rules for user access to a Parallels RAS farm. Administrators can specify who can access a published resource based on several criteria, including user, IP address, client device name, client device OS, media access control (MAC) address, and gateway. Only users that can satisfy the specified criteria are granted access.

Client Policies

One major advantage of delivering virtual applications and desktops from a centralized location such as the cloud is that it simplifies endpoint device management and security. Parallels RAS makes it much easier by allowing administrators to add users to a group, create client policies, and then apply those policies to that group, thereby ensuring policy enforcement.

Security Compliance with the HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR

The Parallels RAS assemblage of security features, which includes enterprise-grade encryption, multifactor authentication, advanced permissions filtering, and others, enables companies to conform with data privacy/protection laws and regulations such as the HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR.

When delivering virtual applications and desktops from the cloud, it’s not enough to rely on cloud security services. Enhance the protection provided by your cloud security services with a highly secure, cloud-ready VDI solution.