Comprehensive Overview of Google Cloud Security

Integrating Google Cloud security measures is crucial to enhancing the security of digital assets in the cloud. By leveraging Google Cloud’s security infrastructure, businesses can ensure that their sensitive data, trade secrets, personal information, intellectual property, and financial data is well-protected. Implementing proper access controls, encryption protocols, and utilizing monitoring capabilities offered by Google Cloud can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access and potential data breaches.

It’s essential for companies to proactively leverage these security tools in order to fortify their overall cybersecurity posture and safeguard valuable digital assets. Let’s explore Google Cloud Security and its role in protecting business-critical data.

What Is Google Cloud Security?

Public clouds use a Shared Responsibility model, where the underlying infrastructure, up to a certain point (such as hardware, hypervisor, physical network), is managed by the provider, and the rest is the user’s responsibility to manage, including identity, permissions, patching, networking access, etc. Below is a breakdown on the line between customers and Google Cloud for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings:

  • Infrastructure security: Google is responsible for the underlying hardware and marketplace images. Once deployed, it is up to customers to manage OS and above level security
  • Network security: Google will manage the underlying networking hardware and segregate network communication between tenants. Customers are responsible for configuring firewall polices and deciding what traffic is allowed both North/South and East/West
  • Data security: Google Cloud offers excellent hardware-level security to ensure customer data is highly durable/available and safe from physical attacks. The user is ultimately responsible for any data stored in Google Cloud. Threats to data include accidental or malicious deletion/encryption and inappropriate access to sensitive data due to misconfiguration
  • Application security: Customers deploying applications on Google Cloud are responsible for their application data and software. If the application leverages Google Cloud Services as part of the application such as Container orchestration, VMs, or Firewalls, Google will manage the underlying infrastructure, but the customer is responsible for the data
  • Software supply chain security: Google will manage marketplace images and templates. The customer is responsible for patching the OS and software once deployed on IaaS instances. Any software deployed on a VM is up to the customer to maintain, including security scans and maintaining a software bill of materials that is used by an application. Customers can maintain their own list of approved marketplace images and templates
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM): Customers are in control over identity sources and authorizing Identities to perform actions on different services or resources. Google provides some predefined roles that a company to leverage as a template for general use
  • Security monitoring and operations: Google offers a large suite of first-party and third-party security services that users can leverage to maintain and secure their environment
  • Governance, risk, and compliance: There are several tools provided by Google to help users define and enforce governance/risk/compliance. Users are responsible for ensuring the definition and adherence to the rules they’ve created

Google Cloud has taken the shared responsibility model a step further to embrace a shared fate model. Maintaining a secure environment is harder than ever, as the flexibility of the cloud allows users to make mistakes that can cause data breaches. To help customers get started using the cloud securely, Google Cloud offers an enterprise foundations blueprint that cover top security concerns and recommendations, secure blueprints that leverage Infrastructure-as-Code to deploy environments automatically and follow secure by default principles, an Architecture Framework that has security best practices baked in, the ability to connect with experts and finally the landing zone navigation guides to get started by building a secure foundation.

Google Cloud Security Best Practices

Most security breaches in the cloud are due to misconfigurations of security settings. Security in the cloud can seem more complex than security on-premises once you start to leverage all the fine-grained restrictions the cloud has to offer. Google’s documentation and blueprints can be a great place to start. Google Cloud’s learning page has courses that can help companies train staff on best practices on architecting a secure environment. 

One of the first places to start is discussing resource hierarchy and applying the principle of least privilege. An end-user can get started with Google Cloud by just adding a credit card and creating a project but for a business, the first step is to start planning out an organization’s resource structure. Below an organization, companies can create folders and projects. Projects are containers in which resources are deployed and configured. Folders offer an optional logical structure that can help businesses separate out rules and permissions. Google Cloud Identity and Access Management (IAM) rules are inherited from the top down. It is a best practice to give as few permissions to users as needed and as close to the resources (VMs, networks, databases, etc.) as possible. An example of this is read/view type permissions at a folder level with more specific permissions like create/delete/power on at the project level.

Visibility and centralized logging & monitoring are another pillar to a strong security posture. Google Cloud offers several services that can enhance this such as cloud monitoring and cloud logging. Cloud monitoring will watch a company’s resources for suspicious activity and potential security threats, and you can setup alerts. Cloud logging lets you collect and analyze logs from resources that have been deployed. Data can even be imported into BigQuery for additional analysis. Cloud logging can collect events from native services and resources, and you can collect logs and metrics from VMs by leveraging the ops agent.

Network security is also a critical aspect to a business’s security plan. VMs and applications need a network to be able to communicate with anything outside of itself. Google Cloud provides Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) networks for users to configure. VPCs are a virtualized physical network that offers complete isolation for a company from other tenants in Google Cloud. Customers create a VPC in a project where the resources exist or a centralized project that is controlled by a networking team. The shared VPC model is often a more secure option as it allows a specialized cloud networking team to setup the environment’s VPCs, subnets, and firewall polices and allow application teams to consume them from their respective projects. Google Cloud offers the option to use networking tags that can be paired with firewall policies to secure a network and ensure that VMs on a network are only able to communicate to their adjacent services on their allowed ports, which can help mitigate attackers moving laterally through an environment. Cloud armor is another feature that can be leveraged as a web application firewall (WAF) to protect your public facing applications from DDoS and network-based attacks.

Google offers security blueprints that can be used by Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) tools to deploy environments automatically in a programmatical way, helping mitigate risk from misconfiguration during setup. Security Command Center can help give you better eyes on your environment to look for these misconfigurations and mitigate them. Organization policies can be defined that prevent users with permission on a project from deploying or applying configurations that aren’t best practice. This feature can be incredibly important for companies that have to adhere to industry regulations. Google Cloud Assured Workloads leverage organization policies to help customers with some common industries such as FedRAMP and HIPPA to maintain compliance.

Challenges of Implementing Google Cloud Security

Deploying a workload in the cloud is incredibly easy. In a matter of a few minutes, someone with no experience and a credit card can quickly spin up a VM, connect, and start deploying software. The bigger challenge is knowing which settings and services to leverage to keep it secure. When a business begins to move to the cloud from a traditional on-premises environment, they often have application teams that are familiar with their own custom-built software and an operations team that is familiar with on-premises security features but might not have any experience with a specific cloud’s tools and settings. When leveraging a new platform such as Google Cloud, it is important to become familiar with the platform’s best practices and features. Investing in training and research into the platform or hiring a professional who specializes in the cloud can help augment existing staff’s capabilities. Google Cloud has a rich community, documentation, and services that newcomers can turn to for questions and best practices to get started.

Once data exists in Google Cloud, it’s important to remember it is on the customer to ensure that the data is protected from various risks. Ensuring a network is properly set up to restrict unwanted access and that authentication and permissions are properly applied can help mitigate data exfiltration. Encryption is another layer of defense to ensure that stolen data isn’t easily compromised. Choosing the correct storage options and leveraging a backup software can help mitigate the risk of data loss from an outage, malicious deletion by a threat actor, or accidental deletion due to a misconfiguration or mistake.

How Veeam Can Help Protect Your Google Cloud Data

For organizations that are looking to boost their Google Cloud data protection strategy, Veeam Backup for Google Cloud allows customers to quickly add folders and projects into the appliance and follow Role-based access control for service accounts and begin creating policies to protect data. It also offers methods to protect GCE VM instances, Google Cloud SQL, and Google Cloud Spanner databases leveraging native snapshots and backing up data to GCS. Customers leveraging Google Cloud VMware Engine(GCVE) can leverage the Veeam Data Platform to protect machines just like on-prem VMware environments. Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and Anthos are fully supported by Veeam’s Kasten K10 product. 

Explore Veeam’s native, policy-based Google Cloud data protection for reliable recovery from accidental deletion, ransomware, and other data loss scenarios.

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