What Is Cloud Network Security?


Cloud network security is the collection of hardware, software, controls, processes, and policies used to protect public, private, and hybrid cloud networks. The goal of cloud network security is to prevent unauthorized access, modification, misuse, or exposure of data as it travels throughout a cloud network.

Network security safeguards data in cloud computing environments by protecting network infrastructure and communication within the network. Cloud networks span from a single user’s device through various communication sub-networks to remote cloud-hosting servers. This chain of communication can be a very complex series of connections creating network vulnerabilities subject to attack if not properly managed.

Various cloud network security techniques and technologies protect a network, including automated continuous monitoring, segmentation, zero trust user authentication, encryption protocols, edge network security, and firewalls. These solutions focus on securing every step of the cloud network from users to applications and infrastructure to virtual machines.

Why Is Cloud Network Security Important?

Many businesses have migrated their data to a cloud environment rather than host it locally on-premises (on-prem) in a private network. For example, it is common for organizations to utilize cloud-based email providers for internal and external communication.

However, these cloud-based email providers can store sensitive company information, including emails, contact details, confidential information, and strategic business documents.

If network security precautions are not put in place, connection to these cloud-based email services can be made via public or unsecured networks, making them vulnerable to network-based attacks such as Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM) attacks. If employees access cloud-based email services via unencrypted connections or insecure Wi-Fi networks, attackers can more easily intercept sensitive information about the user, company, or clients.

Cloud network security protocols such as user authentication or Identity Access Management (IAM) frameworks can limit access to unwanted users, especially in insecure environments, to avoid cloud network threats such as MiTM attacks.

Ultimately, the protection of cloud networks is critically important to organizations. Vulnerabilities within a cloud network can pose a large threat to a business if bad actors can access unauthorized information.

Cloud Security vs Cloud Network Security

There are many similarities between cloud security and cloud network security. Both rely on encryption, access control, and monitoring principles, but the scope of each security concept is different.

Cloud Security

Cloud security specifically aims at securing cloud-based systems, applications, and data. It addresses the unique challenges and risks associated with the shared responsibility of cloud systems across devices and communication networks.

Cloud security is a shared responsibility between the cloud platform and the user of the cloud platform. Each of these platforms provides specific tools and security features that are managed by cloud security professionals on the platform and within an organization.

Cloud Network Security

Cloud network security is the most specific of the three. While cloud security encompasses the protection of networks, servers, containers, applications, and more, cloud network security specifically focuses on the security of the cloud’s network.

Most often, in a public cloud environment, a cloud’s network is managed and secured by the cloud provider rather than the cloud user. However, in hybrid and private cloud environments, cloud network security can be managed by both the provider and the end user, or solely the end user, making their upkeep challenging against a constantly evolving security landscape.

What Are the Challenges of Cloud Network Security?

Scaling Quickly

Scalability is the greatest strength but can also be one of the largest weaknesses of a cloud network. While cloud infrastructures can be scaled up automatically without burden, they can also be unbridled in their scaling, which can create unknown vulnerabilities. For example, cloud users may be able to employ cloud services without the knowledge of their IT departments – creating a shadow IT layer – which can go unmanaged and unprotected by security controls, even risking compliance failure. Some of the most valuable features of cloud networks can result in highly dynamic cloud environments, making them constantly moving, growing, and changing targets for security management.

Reduced Security Visibility

Cloud computing enables automatically scalable computing, storage, virtual environments, and networking resources. While these resources help enable organizational growth and speed, IT teams can struggle to understand the depth and breadth of a cloud network, creating unknown security risks. For example, if one small piece of system code is quickly scaled, it can rapidly increase the number of vulnerabilities wherever that code is running within the network. The sheer vastness of a network can reduce visibility from the IT team, which can create subsequently reduced security and pose risks to an organization.

Shared Liability

Cloud networks utilize shared physical resources, such as servers, which can pose a challenge of shared liability to all users of that specific cloud network cloud network. For example, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on other organizations that utilize the same cloud resource as your organization can cause sluggish performance of your cloud server, even though the attack may have targeted a different organization, and the impacting effects can be more widely felt.

4 Ways to Enhance Cloud Network Security Posture

Most organizations can benefit from enhanced cloud network security. These processes and principles form the pillars of a solid cloud network security plan.

Utilize Zero Trust Networks

Zero trust security models require that every user and application be authenticated before accessing data and other cloud assets. Whether the user is inside or outside of the cloud networks, zero trust networks allow for access control around the network perimeter, granting access to only authenticated devices and users.

Network Segmentation

The segmentation and micro-segmentation of cloud networks refers to the practice of dividing a cloud network into smaller, isolated segments based on user roles, applications, or data sensitivity. Each segment can operate in its network within defined boundaries and security policies, thereby restricting communication between other sub-networks. This is particularly valuable in the event of a network breach, as a bad actor would only be able to access information within their sub-network.

Understand Shared Responsibilities

Most enterprise-level cloud networks are co-managed between the provider and the user. Therefore, cloud network security is a shared responsibility between both parties, and understanding what responsibilities fall on the organization’s IT department or are available from the provider’s services is critical.

Secure Access and Continuous Monitoring

Identity access management (IAM) frameworks enable organizations to manage digital identities and control access to critical information. They block unauthorized access and ensure that each user has permission to access based on the context of their role, geography, time of day, network type, devices, and more. IAM frameworks are especially valuable in secure remote access applications, where cloud network solutions offer scalable remote access. As an extension of IAM frameworks, continuous network monitoring can be used to continuously scan virtual and physical systems for potential security threats to identify potential threats.


Cloud network security requires highly specialized experience in cloud networking and can become increasingly complex when managing security responsibilities in a hybrid cloud environment. Organizations that utilize reputable cloud service providers can often rely on certain aspects of their security to be managed by the provider, but there are also inherent risks in utilizing third-party cloud services such as device failure and staff, which can be out of your organization’s control.

Any organization utilizing cloud services should actively maintain their cloud security plans and stay up to date with the features and risks of their specific cloud environment. If you’re unsure about your current cloud network security strategy, book a demo with SentinelOne to speak with our experts.

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