How To Build A Robust Cloud Security Architecture

Updated on: September 19, 2023

How To Build A Robust Cloud Security Architecture

Cloud security architecture is a unified security design comprising all security layers, software, hardware, and infrastructures that protect the cloud environment and its components, such as containers, APIs, workloads, data, and virtual machines.

In this blog, we will take a deep dive into cloud security architecture and cover the following:

  1. Importance and elements of cloud security architecture
  2. An in-depth understanding of cloud security services
  3. The architectural frameworks suitable for cloud security

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Cloud security architecture comprises three fundamental features:

  • Confidentiality ensures that cloud-based services, assets, and databases are inaccessible and hidden from unauthorized personnel in the organization and hackers.
  • Integrity ensures that cloud applications function efficiently and continuously.
  • Availability refers to the capability of keeping the cloud system protected from service-related attacks, such as Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

Why is your cloud security architecture important?

The cloud, whether public, private, or hybrid, promises efficiency, convenience, and cost-effectiveness to businesses, enabling them to rapidly make data-informed decisions in real time and deliver a service to the end-user or customer.

However, it is not without its own set of challenges, specifically when it comes to security. Here are some stats that support this concern:

  • The global average data breach cost is $4.35 million as of 2022.
  • After malware, phishing is the second most common reason for data breaches, at 16%.

These figures show that despite the expanding reliance on the cloud, the need for robust cloud security network architecture has never been more serious.

It allows businesses like yours to take advantage of all that the cloud has to offer, such as Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) – while mitigating vulnerability and exposure. 

If you are considering strengthening your cloud security architecture, read on.

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Four critical elements of cloud security architecture

A cloud security architecture comprises the following elements, the awareness of which helps design a better, safer cloud infrastructure or navigate the cloud as a whole:

1. Security boundaries based on the CSA model

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA model) needs to be thought about at the time of designing and deploying a cloud security architecture. That’s because it defines the boundaries between the cloud service provider’s responsibilities and the customer. 

The three components of the CSA model are:

  • Centralization involves using tools and services that can be integrated into a single dashboard for easier monitoring and control of the overall security status.
  • Standardization creates consistent cloud security models across various services offered in the cloud environment, minimizing their implementation burden.
  • Automation allows for the quick deployment of security measures and minimizes human error.

By considering CSA, your business can build a robust, efficient, and easily manageable cloud security architecture that safeguards its cloud-based assets.

2. Mechanisms for data protection

Here, the focus is on ensuring the data stored in the cloud is not accessed, manipulated, or deleted without authorization. Primary techniques that come in handy for data protection are:

  • Data anonymization/masking to hide specific data within a database so that it remains confidential.
  • Robust access controls to list those who can access what data.
  • Regular data backups to prevent data loss at all times.

In addition, deploying a strong data recovery plan ensures business continuity even during outrage incidents.

3. Brokered data storage

This involves using an intermediary to manage and store data across multiple cloud environments. The choice of storage affects the overall security posture of the cloud system. You must, therefore, consider your business use cases and needs.

The brokered data storage approach enables storing data in various locations based on performance, cost, and regulatory requirements and enforcing security policies accordingly.

4. Data encryption

User data transmitting through networks should be appropriately protected against tampering and eavesdropping. There are many ways to enhance your network security and safeguard data at rest such as: 

  • Audit and map your infrastructure to spot misconfigured firewalls or physical security threats.
  • Check that the default passwords have been changed.
  • Make sure your firmware and software are up to date.
  • Secure your physical premises.

In addition, encrypt the data in transit using methods like:

  • SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security)
  • HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure)
  • IPSec (Internet Protocol Security)
  • SSH (Secure Shell)

You can also use virtual private networks (VPNs) to protect remote users by extending your organization’s private network across a public network. That way, your employees can send or receive data as if their devices were directly connected to your organization’s network.

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Understanding the shared responsibility model

One data security area that most businesses struggle with is identifying the party responsible for cloud security. With on-premises data centers and infrastructure, it is clear – you are 100% accountable.

However, in the cloud, you use the Cloud Service Providers’ or CSP’s services, blurring the lines of responsibilities. The shift introduces us to the “shared responsibility model,” in which the CSP and the client (your business) have roles to play in ensuring data security.

While the former physically safeguards its data centers and manages software components across its host operating system, you must take control of your data, user access, and configurations within the cloud.

When you fully understand what you are responsible for, you can:

  • Identify where additional security controls or third-party tools are required and allocate resources accordingly.
  • ​​Avoid misconceptions that might cause vulnerabilities.
  • Be compliant in your cloud operations.

In addition, there is another aspect of a holistic cloud architecture. It provides the tools, mechanisms, and intelligence necessary to safeguard cloud resources, ensuring data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. 

What is a cloud security service?

It refers to the technologies, controls, and policies to safeguard cloud data, applications, and infrastructure from malware and ransomware.

The service addresses the unique cloud computing security architecture challenges, such as the need to protect data in transit, security of shared infrastructure, and controlled access to cloud resources. The reason a cloud security service is important because it helps with the following:

  • Data protection by ensuring the confidentiality of sensitive information, controlling unauthorized access, and preventing breaches
  • Threat detection by continuously monitoring network traffic, identifying anomalies, and reacting to potential threats in real-time
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM) by defining user roles, enforcing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and monitoring user activities
  • Encryption of data in transit and at rest, rendering it unreadable to unauthorized parties
  • Application security through proactive code analysis, vulnerability scanning, and runtime protection
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery by enabling data backup, disaster recovery planning, and rapid restoration in case of disruptions

Types of cloud security services

As the cloud landscape evolves, two cloud security services will remain pivotal in ensuring your business leverages cloud technologies securely and efficiently, namely:

1. CIA triad

The three letters in the term stand for Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability, making it the cornerstone of cloud security:

Cloud security services adhere to these principles by securing information, preserving its accuracy, and guaranteeing constant availability.

The model forms a robust defense against breaches, unauthorized access and disruptions, establishing a resilient and secure cloud architecture.

2. OSI security architecture

The Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) security architecture systematically safeguards data as it travels through networks. In the context of cloud security, each of the OSI model’s seven layers represents a different potential attack surface:

  • Physical layer (cables, network interface cards, switches)
  • Data link layer (Media Access Control)
  • Network layer (IP addresses and routing)
  • Transport layer (Transmission Control Protocol and User Datagram Protocol)
  • Session Layer (Application connections)
  • Presentation layer (Data translation, encryption, and compression)
  • Application layer (Communication between different app processes)

As a result, when considering the OSI security architecture in cloud security services, you can examine how each layer is protected in the cloud environment.

Security architecture frameworks suitable for cloud security

Security architecture frameworks refer to consistent principles and guidelines that help design, build, and maintain secure systems within cloud environments. With their help, you can align your security practices with business objectives.

Here are the top security architecture frameworks you must know about:

1. Open Security Architecture (OSA)

The OSA framework covers the technical and functional aspects of security controls. It is a valuable toolbox, providing insights into vital security components, principles, issues, and concepts.

OSA assists in making well-informed architectural decisions, forming a solid foundation for robust security systems. However, it is most effective when used to refine an existing security architecture as it does not extensively address broader architectural considerations.

2. The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF)

TOGAF is an enterprise architecture methodology that helps identify the problems that must be solved within your cloud security architecture. It strongly emphasizes aligning itself with a business’s objectives and scope.

However, it refrains from delving into precise methods for addressing security issues, allowing room for tailored implementation by every business.

For instance, the Security Architecture module within TOGAF can be adapted to address cloud-specific concerns. This ensures that security is embedded from the outset of any cloud project.

3. Sherwood Applied Business Security Architecture (SABSA)

SABSA takes a different approach by being a more policy-driven security framework. It sharpens the focus of a security architecture by asking critical questions like: what, why, when, and who.

SABSA ensures that security services are seamlessly integrated into the broader IT management landscape, fostering a holistic security approach that aligns with business needs. SABSA does not get into the specifics of its technical implementation.


Building a cloud security architecture is not a one-time task. It requires constant vigilance, periodic reviews, and a culture of security-first thinking. Use a reputable cloud service provider to create a secure cloud environment that protects your business assets and helps instill trust among your customers, vendors, and stakeholders.

In addition, make sure you conduct regular pen tests to identify potential vulnerabilities in your environment. Astra Pentest provides round-the-clock cloud security testing services to assess digital assets quickly and efficiently detect over 8,000 vulnerabilities.

Find vulnerabilities before the hackers do and manage your entire security from a developer- and CXO-friendly dashboard. Book a demo today if you want to know how Astra Pentest works.


What does a cloud security architect do?

A cloud security architect designs and implements secure cloud environments. They assess cloud projects for potential risks, create security policies, integrate security technologies, and ensure compliance with regulations. Their goal is to protect data, applications, and services from potential threats within the cloud.

What are common examples of cloud security architecture?

Cloud security architectures often include encryption at rest and in transit, firewall configurations, secure virtual private clouds (VPCs), identity and access management (IAM), intrusion detection systems (IDS), , and multi-factor authentication. These components ensure data integrity, confidentiality, and availability in the cloud.

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