Cloud threats are at an all-time high. But not only that, hackers are becoming more sophisticated with cutting-edge tools and new ways to attack your systems. Cloud service providers can only do so much. So, most of the responsibility for securing your data and applications will still fall on you.
This makes it critical to equip your organization's cloud architects and security teams with the necessary skills that help them stay ahead of the evolving threat landscape.
Although the core qualities of a cloud architect remain the same, upskilling requires them to learn emerging skills in strategy, leadership, operational, and technical areas.
Doing this makes your cloud architects and security teams well-rounded to solve complex cloud issues and ensure the successful design of cloud security architecture.
Here, we’ll outline the top skills for cloud architects. This can be a guide for upskilling your current security team and hiring new cloud security architects. But besides the emerging skills, what are the core responsibilities of a cloud security architect?
A cloud security architect builds, designs, and deploys security systems and controls for cloud-based computing services and data storage systems.
Their responsibilities will likely depend on your organization’s cloud security strategy. Here are some of them:
Like many other organizations, there’s a good chance your company has moved (or is in the process of moving) all or part of its resources to the cloud. This could either be a cloud-first or cloud-only strategy.
As such, they must implement strong security measures that protect the enterprise from emerging threats and intrusions.
Cloud security architecture is only one of many aspects of cloud security disciplines. And professionals specializing in this field must advance their skillset to make proper selections for security technologies, procedures, and the entire architecture.
However, your cloud security architects cannot learn everything. So, you must prioritize and determine the skills that will help them become better architects and deliver effective security architectures for your organization.
To do this, you may want to consider the demand and usage of the skill in your organization.
Will upskilling them with these skills solve any key challenge or pain point in your organization?
You can achieve this by identifying the native security tools key to business requirements, compliance adherence, and how cloud risks can be managed effectively.
Additionally, you should consider the relevance of the skill to the current cloud security ecosystem.
Can they apply this skill immediately? Does it make them better cloud security architects?
Lastly, different cloud deployment (e.g., a public, private, edge, and distributed cloud) or cloud service models (e.g., Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)) bring unique challenges that demand different skillsets.
So, you must identify the necessary skills peculiar to each proposed project.
Once you have all these figured out, here are some must-have skillsets for cloud security architects.
Cloud security architects need several common skills, like knowledge of programming languages (.NET, PHP, Python, Java, Ruby, etc.), network integration with cloud services, and operating systems (Windows, macOS, and Linux).
However, due to the evolving nature of cloud threats, more skills are required.
Training your security teams and architects can have more advantages than onboarding new recruits. This is because existing teams are already familiar with your organization’s processes, culture, and values.
However, whether you’re hiring new cloud security architects or upskilling your current workforce, here are the most valuable skills to look out for or learn.
It’s important to have cloud architects and security teams that integrate various security components in different cloud deployments for optimal results. They must understand the appropriate security capabilities and patterns for each deployment.
This includes adapting to unique security requirements during deployment, combining cloud-native and third-party tools, and understanding the shared responsibility model between the CSP and your organization.
Cloud security frameworks, standards, and methodologies provide a structured approach to security activities. Interpreting and applying these frameworks and standards is a critical skill for security architects.
Some cloud security frameworks and standards include ISO 27001, ISAE 3402, CSA STAR, and CIS benchmarks. Familiarity with regional or industry-specific requirements like HIPAA, CCPA, and PCI DSS can ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
Best practices like the AWS Well-Architected Framework, Microsoft Cloud Security Benchmark, and Microsoft Cybersecurity Reference Architectures are also necessary skills.
Although most CSPs have native tools that streamline your cloud security policies, understanding which tools your organization needs and where is a must-have skill.
There are a few reasons why; it’s cost-effective, integrates seamlessly with the respective cloud platform, enhances management and configuration, and aligns with the CSP’s security updates.
Still, not all native tools are necessary for your cloud architecture.
As native security tools evolve, cloud architects must constantly be ahead by understanding their capabilities.
IAM is essential for managing user access and permissions within the cloud environment. Familiarity with IAM patterns ensures proper security controls are in place.
Note that popular cloud service providers, like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, may have different processes for implementing IAM.
However, the key principles of IAM policies remain. So, your cloud architects must understand how to define appropriate IAM measures for access controls, user identities, authentication techniques like multi-factor authentication (MFA) or single sign-on (SSO), and limiting data exfiltration risks in SaaS apps.
CNAPP is a cloud-native security model that combines the capabilities of Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM), Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP), and Cloud Service Network Security (CSNS) into a single platform.
Cloud solutions like this simplify monitoring, detecting, and mitigating cloud security threats and vulnerabilities. As the nature of threats advances, using CNAPPs like Prevasio can provide comprehensive visibility and security of your cloud assets like Virtual Machines, containers, object storage, etc.
CNAPPs enable cloud security architects to enhance risk prioritization by providing valuable insights into Kubernetes stack security configuration through improved assessments.
It's necessary to align your cloud security architecture with your business's strategic goals. Every organization has unique requirements, and your risk tolerance levels will differ.
When security architects are equipped to understand how to bridge security architecture and business requirements, they can ensure all security measures and control are calibrated to mitigate risks.
This allows you to prioritize security controls, ensures optimal resource allocation, and improves compliance with industry-specific regulatory requirements.
Although cloud adoption is increasing, many organizations have still not moved all their assets to the cloud.
At some point, some of your on-premises legacy systems may need to be hosted in a cloud environment.
However, legacy information systems' architecture, technologies, and security mechanisms differ from modern cloud environments.
This makes it important to have cloud security architects with experience working with legacy information systems.
Their knowledge will help your organization solve any integration challenges when moving to the cloud.
It will also help you avoid security vulnerabilities associated with legacy systems and ensure continuity and interoperability (such as data synchronization and maintaining data integrity) between these systems and cloud technologies.
Cloud security architects must also understand how databases and database management systems (DBMS) work. This knowledge allows them to design and implement the right measures that protect data stored within the cloud infrastructure.
Proficiency with databases can also help them implement appropriate access controls and authentication measures for securing databases in the cloud. For example, they can enforce role-based access controls (RBAC) within the database environment.
DevOps is increasingly becoming more adopted than traditional software development processes. So, it’s necessary to help your cloud security architects embrace and support DevOps practices. This involves developing skills related to application and infrastructure delivery.
They should familiarize themselves with tools that enable integration and automation throughout the software delivery lifecycle. Additionally, architects should understand agile development processes and actively work to ensure that security is seamlessly incorporated into the delivery process.
Other crucial skills to consider include cloud risk management for enterprises, understanding business architecture, and approaches to container service security.
By upskilling your cloud security architects, you're investing in their personal development and equipping them with skills to navigate the rapidly evolving cloud threat landscape. It allows them to stay ahead of emerging threats, align cloud security practices with your business requirements, and optimize cloud-native security tools.
Cutting-edge solutions like Cloud-Native Application Protection Platforms (CNAPPs) are specifically designed to help your organization address the unique challenges of cloud deployments.
With Prevasio, your security architects and teams are empowered with automation, application security, native integration, API security testing, and cloud-specific threat mitigation capabilities.
Prevasio’s agentless CNAPP provides increased risk visibility and helps your cloud security architects implement best practices. Contact us now to learn more about how our platform can help scale your cloud security.