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How to build a cloud security observability strategy

How to build a cloud security observability strategy

How to build a cloud security observability strategy

Cloud computing is changing the way organizations operate. With a vast expansion of storage space, unprecedented flexibility, and more scope for innovation than ever before, it’s a huge leap forward for businesses and enterprises the world over.

An estimated 60% of all corporate data is now stored on the cloud. That’s more than double the amount in 2015! This growth shows no sign of slowing down – cloud infrastructure spending is projected to reach $118 billion by 2025.

However, this technological advance comes with concerns. Migrating to the cloud changes the threat landscape, opening the door to ever-evolving modern cyber attacks and bringing extra complexity to cloud security. That’s why a significant refocus is needed, with reshaped workflows and playbooks together with a clear, robust cloud security observability strategy.

But what exactly is cloud security observability and how can your organization develop an effective strategy to cover all aspects of your cloud infrastructure? 

What is cloud security observability?

Essentially, it’s how much you know about what’s happening within a cloud system. Having good cloud observability means possessing a clear insight into every aspect of your infrastructure, with clear, well-designed workflows that can be inspected to ensure they align with your business goals.

Security observability enables you to ask questions using metrics, logs, and traces (more on these later), giving you layered, contextual information about the level of protection of your assets and the ability to pinpoint any potential vulnerabilities. 

Cloud security observability is made up of various elements:

  • Control plane observability: This refers to the specific cloud environment. 
  • Network observability: Firewalls, load balancers, proxy tools, and network traffic flow can all be monitored to give you a better idea of your security posture.
  • Application observability: Every organization uses multiple applications and SIEM (security information and event management) is needed to monitor workloads and processes within the cloud environment.
  • Container observability: A key part of cloud computing, containers are continuing to rise in popularity and, as such, the data generated by a PaaS (platform as a service) needs to be fully utilized for effective observability.  
  • Database and storage observability: Cloud storage services provide lots of valuable data that you can harness to gain observability across your security architecture.  
  • User observability: Understanding user interactions within the systems and networks. This refers to user behaviors, user access and the overall end-user experience.

Six steps to build a cloud security observability strategy

1. Identify your cloud security goals

When defining a cloud security observability strategy, it’s necessary to begin with the desired outcomes and work backwards. A technically sound observability strategy might work for one organization, but not for another. Your strategy should ensure that your cloud security architecture is tailor made for your long-term business objectives.

Long-term planning aside, you should also be aware of the key business drivers – those elements that are present today, that operate to bring cost efficiency and drive revenue.

Key cloud security goals might include:

  • Protecting the reputation of the organization – ensuring the organization’s valuable assets and that of their customers and collaborators are safe and secure.
  • Ensuring cloud security compliance – making sure that all cloud computing services meet the correct standards and compliance regulations required by regulators, customers and collaborators.
  • Improving cloud security posture – ensuring the overall health and security of the infrastructure is robust and capable of adapting to new challenges. 

2. Define your observability requirements and design your observability architecture 

Your system should be designed to capture the key data points needed to gain good cloud security observability. This ‘telemetry’ consists of three pillars: metrics, logs and traces. Each of these will help you monitor and analyze your architecture and achieve your security goals.


These measurements document the performance of a component or service over a period of time. Examples include metrics on memory usage, session length, HTTP requests per second, SSL certificates, botnet infections, mean-time to detect (MTTD), and mean-time to respond (MTTR).

You can obtain these metrics from a variety of sources, including cloud platforms, infrastructure, hosts, and external sources.


These are structured or unstructured text records of events that occur within a specific system or application. Logs can provide essential information for recreating issues, providing deep insight to aid investigations.

However, poorly managed logs can create clutter and misinformation, weakening observability and hampering the investigative process.


While logs and metrics relate to events within the system, traces are concerned with how services connect, linking together events within an individual transaction or request. Traces provide information into the flow across a system, helping you get to the root of a problem.

Traces can be used in conjunction with metrics and logs to get a clearer context of your security architecture.

3. Choose your observability tools 

The observability tools you use significantly affect the level of your cloud security observability. These tools are used to collect, aggregate, process, and analyze the telemetric data within a distributed environment.

While each observability tool has its own specialty, most have a set of core capabilities, which include:

  • Producing valuable raw observability data
  • Storing and retrieving large amounts of data
  • Integrating telemetry from other observability tools
  • Creating visualizations of data that can be analyzed
  • Creating reports to help track long-term trends  

Key cloud security observability tools include:

  • Metrics tools

Sumo Logic, Splunk, Wiz, Lacework, Sematext.

  • Logs tools

LogDNA, Loggly, Sumo Logic, Datadog, Google Cloud Logging.

  • Tracing tools

Jaeger, Zipkin,, Sentry, Datadog, Dynatrace.

The tools that a company uses depend on the specific needs of the business. CISOs, IT managers, and security managers should consider the specific features of each tool and test its capabilities before choosing. This is the kind of decision where the expert knowledge of an MDR provider can prove very useful. 

What’s more, these tools are constantly evolving, harnessing technologies such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to transform the capabilities of observability and monitoring. Many observability tools can already be integrated with AI and ML technology to assist security teams in creating automated detection and response playbooks.

4. Establish your observability processes

Once you’ve aligned your strategy with your business goals and decided on the key observability tools, it’s time to put your observability processes in place. Setting up these processes with an MDR provider will bring rich contextual data to gain deeper insights and create broad observability into the threat landscape, as well as the patterns and user behaviors that are specific to your enterprise. 

5. Implement and test your observability strategy 

The next step sees the implementation of your observability processes and the reshaping of your security architecture. A team of cloud security experts who provide managed detection and response services can implement your strategy in lockstep with your business drivers and long-term objectives. They can also provide continuous monitoring of your infrastructure, keeping tabs on the health and effectiveness of your system as a whole and all its components.

Security audits and vulnerability assessments bring a greater degree of observability and can be carried out by your MDR provider, enabling you to evolve your strategy to better align with your business needs and protect your business more effectively. 

6. Train your team 

An effective cloud security observability strategy goes beyond tools and processes. It encompasses the human element, too. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your security team is properly trained on your observability tools, processes and architecture, enabling them to effectively detect and respond to security incidents and to understand what is happening across the technology stack at any given time.

Again, your team can greatly benefit from the knowledge and expertise of managed detection and response services. An effective MDR provider goes beyond to act as an extension to your team, sharing knowledge, providing awareness, and instilling best cybersecurity practices in your team to further augment your organization’s security posture. 

How Ackcent can help develop your security observability strategy

With the increased complexity surrounding the cloud security environment, having a unified cloud security observability strategy to simplify the process of analyzing and acting open your security data is crucial. There are so many paths available to security managers, with an endless array of tools and techniques that can, in fact, create disharmony and instability. So, finding the right balance is key.

At Ackcent, our MDR offering blends human expertise with cutting-edge tools and technologies. Our team has over 20 years of experience in the field, with a deep knowledge of cybersecurity strategies, and we’re constantly evolving our understanding of this ever-changing field.

Our solution provides 24x7x365 coverage, and we have the necessary skills, expertise, and personality to create a comprehensive cloud security observability strategy that is specific to your needs. This will help you detect, prevent, and respond to security incidents in your cloud infrastructure.

Contact Ackent today to find out more about building and implementing a strong and successful cloud security observability strategy specific to your organization.