15 Ways to Secure Platform as a Service (PaaS) environment

15 Ways to Secure Platform as a Service (PaaS) environment

15 Ways to Secure Platform as a Service (PaaS) environment

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is a cloud computing model that provides a platform where customers can build, secure, run, and manage web applications online. It allows teams to develop and deploy applications in a highly optimized environment without having to manage the IT infrastructure.

The platform offers the infrastructure and resources necessary to support software development and deployment throughout the entire lifecycle. Developers and users can access the platform from any location via the internet. The PaaS offers many benefits, including simplicity, convenience, and flexibility.

As you will see, the process of securing a PaaS is different from the traditional on-premises data center.

A PaaS environment is dependent on a shared safety model. While the provider provides security, the PaaS customers are responsible for protecting their apps and data on the platform. In ideal scenarios, security moves from the on-premise model to the identity perimeter security model.

The PaaS customer must therefore be more focused on identity as their primary security perimeter. You should focus on protection, testing, data, configurations, employees, users authentication, monitoring, and logs.

As you will see, the process of securing a PaaS is different from traditional on-premise data centers.

A PaaS environment is dependent on a shared safety model. While the provider provides security, the PaaS customers are responsible for protecting their apps and data on the platform. In ideal scenarios, security moves from the on-premise model to the identity perimeter security model.

The PaaS customer must therefore be more focused on identity as their primary security perimeter. You should focus on protection, testing, code, data and configurations, employees, users authentication, operations monitoring, and logs.

1. Protect your applications against unexpected and common attacks

A real-time automated protection solution that can quickly detect and block any attack is one of the best ways to protect your business. Subscribers to PaaS can either use the security tools on the platform or search for third-party options that meet their needs.

The ideal tool will provide real-time protection and automatically detect and block unauthorized access, attacks or breaches.

It must be able to detect unusual activity, malicious logins, account takeovers, account hijackings, and other anomalies that could lead to compromise. It is important to integrate security into the application to ensure its safety.  An application security software like Apiiro can help you do this across sensitive data, and can also help automate and focus your risk assessments so you can manage the risks that matter.

Also read: Security as a Service: A Definition of SECaaS, Benefits, and Examples

2. Protect user accounts, app resources, and passwords

Every interaction can be a target for hackers. Attacks can be prevented by limiting or limiting the access to application vulnerabilities and resources that are accessible to untrusted users. To reduce security weaknesses, it is important to update and patch the security systems regularly.

The platform is secured by the service provider, but the customer bears a greater responsibility for protecting the account and its applications. This includes using a variety of security strategies, such as add-ons and third-party tools to enhance the security of accounts, data, and apps. It also ensures that authorized employees or users have access to the system.

Another option is to limit the number of admin rights-holding employees, while also establishing an audit system to identify risky actions by authorized external users and internal teams.

Administrators should enforce the lowest user privileges. This approach ensures that users have only the minimum privileges necessary to be able to use applications and perform other functions. This decreases the attack surface and misuse of access rights. It also exposes privileged resources.

3. Security vulnerabilities can be found by scanning the application

To determine if the libraries and apps are vulnerable or if they pose security risks, perform a risk assessment. The findings can be used to enhance the security of all components. It is a good idea to set up a regular scanning that runs automatically every day or at any other time, depending on the app’s security threat and the app’s sensitivity.

Use a solution that integrates with other tools, such as communication software, or has an integrated feature to alert the relevant people when it detects a security threat.

4. Security issues in dependencies can be tested and fixed

Apps will typically depend on both indirect and direct dependencies. These dependencies are usually open-source. If these components are not fixed, security holes in apps could be introduced.

It is a good idea to test all internal and external components, run API penetration tests, and check third-party network connections. There are many ways to fix vulnerabilities such as upgrading or replacing the dependency with a secure version, patching, and so on.

5. Perform penetration testing and threat modeling

Penetration testing identifies and addresses security vulnerabilities or holes before attackers can exploit them. Penetration tests can appear as DDoS attacks because they are often aggressive. It is important to coordinate with security teams in order to avoid false alarms.

Threat modeling is simulating potential attacks from trusted boundaries. This allows attackers to determine if there are design flaws. The modeling provides threat intelligence to the IT teams, which they can use for security enhancements and countermeasures to address any weakness or threat.

6. Monitor activities & file access

Security teams can monitor privileged accounts to see and understand the activities of users using the platform. This allows security teams to identify potential compliance risks and security risks in the activities of privileged users.

You can monitor and log the activities of users with respect to their rights and files. This monitors for suspicious access, modifications, or unusual downloads and uploads. In case of a breach, a file activity monitoring report should include a list listing all users who accessed the file.

The right solution must be able to identify internal threats as well as high-risk users. This can be done by looking for problems such as concurrent logins, suspicious activity, and many failed login attempts. You can also look out for unusual login times, suspicious file or data downloads, and other indicators such as logging in at odd hours. If possible, security teams will be notified to take preventive measures that block suspicious activity.

7. Secure data at rest and in-transit

Encrypting data while it is in transit and storage is the best practice. Secure communication channels can prevent possible man-in-the-middle attacks when data travels via the Internet.

Implement HTTPS if you have not done so already. Enable the TLS Certificate to encrypt the communication channel and the data in transit.

8. Always validate data

This ensures that input data are in the right format and is valid and secure.

All data must be treated as high-risk components, regardless of whether it comes from internal users or external trusted sources security teams. It is best to validate the client-side before uploading data. This will ensure that only clean data passes through, while also blocking virus-infected or compromised files.

9. Code security

During the development life-cycle, analyze the code for potential vulnerabilities. This should be done in the early stages. Developers should ensure that the code is secure before deploying the application to production.

10. Enforce multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication provides an additional layer of security that ensures only authorized users have access to the apps, data, or systems. This could be a password, OTP, or SMS.

Also read: Best 10 Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Software Solutions

11. Build strong password policies

People tend to use easy-to-remember passwords and will not change them unless forced. Administrators can reduce this security risk by creating strong password policies.

It is important to require strong passwords that are valid for a specified time. A related security measure is to cease sending and storing plain text credentials. It is a good idea to encrypt authentication tokens, credentials, and passwords.

12. Standard authentication and authorization are possible

It is best to use standard, reliable, and tested authorization and authentication mechanisms and protocols like Kerberos and OAuth2. You can create custom authentication codes but these are susceptible to errors and vulnerable, which could expose systems to attackers.

13. Key management processes

Avoid weak or short keys that can be predicted by attackers. Use strong cryptographic keys. Secure key distribution mechanisms are also recommended. They should be rotated regularly, renewed on time, revoked when necessary, and not hardcoded into applications.

Regular and automatic key rotations improve security and compliance, while also limiting the risk of losing encrypted data.

14. Manage Access apps and data securely

Establish and enforce a clear and manageable security policy that is auditable. It is best to give authorization to authorized employees and users just the necessary access rights and no more.

This requires that they are only granted access to the data and apps they need to complete their tasks. Regular monitoring should be done to ensure that people are not misusing the rights or removing them from their possession.

15. Automatically collect and analyze logs

There is much information available in the logs from applications, APIs, and systems. An automated tool to collect, analyze and interpret the logs can provide valuable insights into what’s happening. The logging services are useful for both audits and compliance verification.

A log analyzer can be integrated with your alerting system, support your application tech stacks and provide a dashboard.

Conclusion

PaaS models remove the cost and complexity of managing, purchasing, and maintaining software and hardware, but place the responsibility for securing accounts, apps, and data on the customer or subscriber. This requires a different identity-centric security strategy than the ones used by companies in traditional on-premise data centers.

The best security measures include integrating security into apps, providing sufficient internal and external protection, as well as monitoring the activities, and auditing them. Analyzing logs can help identify security weaknesses and improvement opportunities. Security teams should aim to address any vulnerability or threat early enough that attackers can exploit them.

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