On-Premises and Cloud: What Is a Hybrid IT Infrastructure and How to Keep It Secure

hybrid it infrastructure

The COVID-19 pandemic taught businesses to constantly expect and adapt to changes, driving a global trend for organizations to restructure themselves by adopting a more versatile and scalable operational model and work environment. With fewer working hours spent in the physical office, many companies have chosen to downsize their office space and switch to a more distributed workforce synchronized via the cloud. With the exception of manufacturing businesses, more and more organizations in the service and tech sectors are joining this trend. As a result, the hybrid IT infrastructure is becoming a familiar sight.


What Is a Hybrid IT Infrastructure

A hybrid IT infrastructure, or a hybrid IT environment, contains a mix of on-premises and cloud servers. On-premises servers are physical appliances owned, deployed, and controlled completely by an organization on-site, hence no internet connectivity is required to access the workload. Although on-premises servers are difficult to scale up and mobilize, they give the owner exclusive control and full visibility of all their data. As such, high-profile government agencies are often required by law to maintain a full on-premises environment so that data are exclusively controlled within the organization.

Unlike on-premises servers, cloud servers do not require any physical space from the user given that they are physically located in the service provider’s facility, delivering service over the Internet. This allows many service-based companies to exist without having to accommodate and manage physical appliances on-site. It even enables many early-stage startups to operate without any physical locations at all.

In broader terms, hybrid IT can sometimes be used to refer to hybrid cloud, which is when the owner uses multiple cloud servers that include a mix of public and private clouds. A public cloud is when the service provider delivers services from its servers to multiple customers with the same needs. Each user signs into their account to access their workload. Hence, in a public cloud environment, data from multiple tenants are stored in shared servers, with workloads isolated by rules and permissions. Many common software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms like Amazon Web Service (AWS) and Microsoft Azure are public clouds.

On the other hand, a private cloud refers to a cloud environment where a server is dedicated exclusively to one customer. A private cloud is usually established to provide customized hardware or software tailored to the needs of a particular organization. Services deployed within the private cloud are solely used by the tenant, ensuring single tenancy. Nevertheless, services are run by the service provider, and internet connectivity is needed to access the data.

In the end, every type of IT system has its pros and cons, leaving it for organizations to choose the right combinations that best fit their operational and security needs. Regardless of the chosen combination, operating a hybrid IT infrastructure requires more thoughtful cybersecurity practices and measures.


How to Securely Manage a Hybrid IT Infrastructure

A hybrid IT infrastructure is much more complex than a traditional IT environment. Oftentimes, it can be difficult to keep track of which portion of the environment is on-premises and which portion is in the cloud. Moreover, the division of security responsibilities can cause confusion. Many users tend to make the false assumption that cloud service providers will secure their data, while in reality, service providers are only responsible for securing the infrastructure, and customers are responsible for securing their workloads using effective encryption and access control policies.


Encrypt Sensitive Workloads

Regardless of the type of IT system, all sensitive data, both in storage and during transmission, must be encrypted. This is especially crucial for the cloud portion of the IT infrastructure. Since data are transferred in real-time during network sessions, every network session should be well encrypted with an encryption module.

Additionally, although many cloud service providers offer client-side encryption tools, it is more secure to use an encryption module that provides the user with their own set of keys. This prevents the risk of key exposure to the cloud service provider’s employees.

D’Amo is an optimized encryption framework capable of encrypting different layers of the IT system, including user application, DBMS application, DBMS package, DBMS engine, kernel, and security gateway. Not only does it offer robust encryption through various methods, but its Key Management System (KMS) also ensures that the user has full control over their keys.


Apply Consistent Authentication and Access Control

One of the major challenges in securing a hybrid IT infrastructure is that account management and access control configurations need to be applied separately for every portion of the infrastructure. Despite this, it is important to deploy a consistent set of security controls across all portions of the environment, and perform regular audits to make sure that correctly configured access control policies are in place for every portion. In fact, many data breaches today arise from cloud access policy misconfigurations. As a general rule, always apply zero trust security across the network.

An identity and access management (IAM) solution like iSIGN+ can help an enterprise streamline its authentication and authorization policies across multiple environments. Its single sign-on (SSO) feature enables easy and convenient authentication across multiple services, easing the complexity and challenges of managing multiple IT systems.


Isolate Critical Infrastructure

An organization’s critical infrastructure must always be isolated from other systems. Ideally, it should be kept in an on-premises or private cloud server, with the least privilege access rights granted to the least number of people. This allows the organization to easily protect its critical infrastructure by shutting down the respective server during a ransomware attack.


Adequate Employee Training

As always, employee training is crucial for enterprise security. With more and more employees working from a remote environment, attackers are making highly sophisticated phishing attempts via work emails and Microsoft Teams. Employees must be trained periodically on effectively identifying and reporting phishing activities.



Penta Security’s Cloud Security Solutions

Given the complexity of a hybrid IT infrastructure, organizations have the option to invest in a managed security service that provides a customized approach to secure their hybrid systems. Penta Security’s Cloud Security Solutions contain a wide range of hybrid security services from WAPPLES Cloud, D’Amo Cloud, to iSIGN+ Cloud, enabling organizations to succeed in a hybrid IT environment.

Contact us to learn more about Penta Security’s Cloud Security Solutions.


For more information on security implementation, check out Penta Security’s product lines:

Web Application Firewall: WAPPLES

Database Encryption: D’Amo

Identity and Access Management: iSIGN+ 

Automotive, Energy, Industrial, and Urban Solutions: Penta IoT Security