As 2022 starts to gear up and you get ready to start your cloud career in full , I thought it would be a good idea to focus on specific skills that need to be developed. As full time working employees we have to be smart about using our time , so prioritizing what to learn is very important.

Like I mentioned before, cloud is a different animal from on-prem and different skills are needed. That’s why I am focusing in this article about the top 3 skills you should focus on in the cloud. One disclaimer in that this article focus on cloud skills which will come in use regardless of whether you are a security professional or a solutions architect. These skills are also independent of any provider and scale across AWS , Azure and Google Cloud.

Infrastructure as Code

If you are working in the cloud then there is no escape from Infrastructure as Code as it is one of the most basic skills you need. IaC like its name basically means you define Infrastructure in a code template which is then processed by the provider and converted into actual infra in the cloud.

A few lines of code like the below will literally let you spin up a complete server in the cloud

Terraform code

IaC lets you implement proper automation as no one in a proper cloud environment is going to provision hundreds of servers through a management interface and all of them will be using IaC templates like Cloudformation or Terraform. There are also numerous security benefits like full visibility , code review and immutability. Check out my ISACA journal article here if you want to know more about IaC

If you are getting a headache just thinking about learning IaC coding then good news is that are numerous resources and graphical tools you can use to create Infrastructure as Code templates without writing a single line of code ( although knowing coding certainly helps ! ). I would suggest starting with the basics of Terraform which can be used in ay cloud environment as that will give you a great advantage over other security professionals

Recommended skill to learn : Terraform

Integration and APIs

One way of looking at the Cloud is visualizing it as a huge number of services and APIs that are capable of talking to each other. Companies moving to the cloud want to take advantage of native cloud features and connect them to their processes and applications which usually happens via API calls.

How many times have you heard vendors using the term partner APIs or external APIs in the cloud ? But exactly does it mean ? APIs or Application Programming Interfaces are the small pieces of code that are exposed by applications and services which enable other applications or services to talk to them. It forms the backbone of modern applications and how you have applications running on smartphones, internet and your laptop all behaving in the same way.

As a Cloud professional ( security or otherwise ) you will be expected to be able to integrate numerous services and make them β€œtalk” to each other. This is not something you do after your cloud environment has been built ( a bit like putting in the wiring after your house has been built ). Knowing how to integrate and make cloud services communicate with each other is essential

Recommended skill to learn : Setup an AWS free tier account and play around with the free services and integrate them.

Automation

This skills builds on the previous one as automation is one of the key advantages cloud has over on-prem. Once you realize you can make services talk to each other , you can create complete work-flows without any human involvement whatsoever easily in the cloud. While you can do automation on-prem , the ease and power of the cloud simply gives it a far superiors advantage.

As an example, take a look at the below workflow which you can read about here in which a complete security incident response workflow has been created just using native AWS services without a single third party solution in sight !

If you dont want to experiment with cloud environment like AWS , Google or Azure for fear for racking up bill then you can easily download Jenkins which is a free automation tool and play around with how to create automated pipelines. Do subscribe to my newsletter as I will be creating a detailed post on how to do CI / CD in the future

Recommended skill to learn : Jenkins

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