“Indian Organisations Are Contending With The Complexities Inherent In Securing Cloud Services”

“Indian Organisations Are Contending With The Complexities Inherent In Securing Cloud Services”

In an era marked by rapid digital transformation, the Indian cybersecurity landscape faces unique challenges and opportunities. As enterprises adopting cutting-edge technologies, the importance of robust cybersecurity measures cannot be overstated. With the increasing complexity of digital infrastructures, organizations are exposed to a broader array of cyber threats that demand innovative and resilient security strategies. To dive deeper into the realm of India's evolving cybersecurity landscape, Rajeev Ranjan, Editor, Digital Terminal exclusively interacted with Kartik Shahani, Country Manager, Tenable India. The discussion uncovers insights and strategies crucial for fortifying digital defenses in this rapidly changing environment.

Rajeev: How do you see the Indian cybersecurity landscape, especially for enterprises who are on the way for their digital transformation journey?

Kartik: In today's digital landscape, Indian organisations are contending with the complexities inherent in securing cloud services. Among these challenges, the management of non-human identities has emerged as a pressing concern. These digital entities, which encompass service accounts, API keys, and machine identities, play a pivotal role in modern digital infrastructure. However, they often operate under the radar within traditional identity management frameworks.

This oversight exposes organisations to considerable cybersecurity risks. Despite their prevalence and importance, non-human identities are frequently overlooked, leaving systems vulnerable to cyber threats. These identities are fundamental to facilitating seamless interactions between applications and systems, providing access to vital resources, and authenticating automated processes. The consequences of neglecting the management of non-human identities can be severe and far-reaching.

Rajeev: What are the threats AI adoption can bring within organisations? What’s your top three advice to share with CIOs/CTOs

Kartik: As organisations increasingly integrate AI into their workflows, the threat of data poisoning, evasion, privacy breaches, and abuse attacks becomes significant. Many of these attacks are relatively simple to execute and require minimal understanding of the AI system. Securing AI systems necessitates a robust design approach, encompassing risk awareness, and threat modeling, followed by secure development practices. This involves addressing supply chain security, documentation, and managing technical debt. Ensuring secure deployment of AI models is essential to prevent infrastructure compromise. Continuous operation and maintenance, including logging, monitoring, and update management, are vital for maintaining the security of these systems over time.

Adopting a preventive security approach, wherein organisations proactively identify and rectify issues before they escalate, is crucial. Additionally, organisations must regularly review and update their security policies, standards, and procedures to ensure clarity, currency, and comprehensiveness.

Rajeev: Why do vulnerabilities remain unpatched even when organisations know they exist?

Kartik: Whether it is a nation state or financially-driven threat actors, cybercriminals tend to set their sights on low hanging fruit. Zero-day vulnerabilities may garner much attention, but practically speaking, it’s the publicly known unpatched vulnerabilities that provide cybercriminals the best bang for their buck. This is because many organisations struggle to keep pace with the sheer volume of newly-discovered vulnerabilities, providing cybercriminals a window of opportunity to gain a foothold by exploiting known flaws. With so many point tools in their arsenal, each providing siloed data, security teams do not have complete visibility over their attack surface and the context to determine which assets are critical to the business and needs to be patched right away.

Rajeev: Why should organisations take vulnerability remediation seriously? 

Kartik: Vulnerability remediation is really just one part of securing your organisation. The cybersecurity industry needs to shift from traditional vulnerability management focused on giving customers a list of vulnerabilities and embrace exposure management that helps customers understand where they're exposed, what that means from a risk perspective and how they can effectively manage and reduce that risk.

Security leaders recognise that data growth, tool proliferation, and operational silos heighten cyber risks. However, teams struggle to keep pace with adopting new solutions for managing vulnerabilities, web apps, identities, and cloud assets. Analysing diverse data sources to prioritise cyber risks poses a significant challenge.

When threat actors evaluate an organisation’s cyber defences, they aren’t thinking in terms of data silos. Instead, they are looking for the right blend of vulnerabilities, misconfigurations and identity privileges that will give them the greatest level of access the quickest to the organisation’s network. 

Rajeev: How can organisations adopt a preventive approach to remediating thousands of vulnerabilities in their environments?

Kartik: Organisations first need to identify and assess risk across all assets, including servers, workstations, web applications, cloud infrastructure, code repositories, containers, virtualisation platforms, public-facing assets, and credentials. Neglecting any of these areas creates significant blind spots in the attack surface, making it impossible to make informed decisions about risk mitigation.

Once full visibility is achieved, prioritise risk effectively. Using CVSS scores alone is insufficient; organisations need unified solutions to identify misconfigurations, code flaws, and other exposures, considering factors like threat intelligence, real-world exploitability, business criticality, and impact.

With clear risk priorities, remediation becomes more manageable. Implementing the prioritisation plan involves more than just patching vulnerabilities; it requires policy changes, system configuration hardening, code fixes, and process improvements tailored to address exposures in a cost-effective and feasible manner.

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