Cloud computing is continually transforming the way companies store, use, and share data, workloads, and software. The volume of cloud utilization around the globe is increasing, leading to a greater mass of sensitive material that is potentially at risk.
There are several benefits of cloud computing, which are driving more firms and individuals to the cloud. The benefits include low costs, improved employee productivity, and faster time to market to name a few.
Regardless of the phenomenal advantages, saving a firm’s workloads to a cloud service that is publicly hosted exposes the organization to new data security risks which cause unease for some firms’ IT departments and clients.
In addition, work from home has pushed more organizations to the cloud and is increasing usage by those already there. That widespread adoption makes cloud more of a target for attackers, and the rapid pace of the transition to remote work has left some security gaps in their wake.
So, what are the security risks around cloud computing and how can you mitigate them? To answer that question, let’s go through some of the biggest cloud threats and overview potential solutions.
The multitude of configuration settings in the cloud environment and its ephemeral nature can make it a mammoth challenge to ensure tight security rules.
As far as human error goes, cloud misconfiguration is one of the most common cause of data breaches. If you dig into all those headlines about big breaches, you’ll notice it comes up a lot.
Other common causes include:
- No encryption of data storage
- Inappropriate ports open to the internet
- Poor credential practices like leaving them in their default state
- Overly permissive firewall rules
- Turning off security tools on purpose or by accident
2. Data breach
The cloud security risk of a data breach is a cause-and-effect thing. If the data breach happens – this means the company had neglected some of the cloud security flaws, and this caused a natural consequence.
Data breach is an accident in which the information is accessed and extracted without authorization. This event usually results in a data leak.
Confidential information can be open to the public, but usually, it is sold on the black market or held for ransom.
While the extent of the consequences depends on the crisis management skills of the particular company, the event itself is a blemish on a company’s reputation.
The information in the cloud storage is under multiple levels of access. You can’t just stumble upon it under normal circumstances. However, it is available from various devices and accounts with cryptographic keys.
In other words, a hacker can get into it if he knows someone who has access to it. That’s how a cybercriminal exploits a security threat in cloud computing, gets access to the system, and extracts the data.
The most prominent recent data breach is the one that happened in Equifax in 2017. It resulted in a leak of personal data of over 143 million consumers.
Equifax’s developers hadn’t updated their software to fix the reported vulnerability. Hackers took advantage of this and the breach happened.
3. Data Loss
If a data breach wasn’t bad enough, there is an even worse cloud security threat – it can get irreversibly lost like tears in the rain. Data loss is one of the cloud security risks that are hard to predict, and even harder to overcome.
Let’s look at four of the most common reasons for data loss:
- Data alteration – when information is in some way changed, and cannot be reverted to the previous state. This issue may happen with dynamic databases.
- Unreliable storage medium outage – when data gets lost due to problems on the cloud provider’s side.
- Data deletion – accidental or wrongful erasure of information from the system with no backups to restore. The reason is usually a human error, faulty database structure, system glitch, or malicious intent.
- Loss of access – when information is still in the system but unavailable due to lack of encryption keys and other credentials.
4. DDOS attacks
A denial-of-service attack (DoS) is a tactic for overloading a targeted system to make it unavailable. DoS attacks overwhelm the target by sending more traffic than it can handle, causing it to fail.
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) is a type of DoS attack where the traffic used to overwhelm the target is coming from many distributed sources. This method means the attack can’t be stopped just by blocking the source of traffic.
While cloud systems tend to have more resources (making them harder to take down) they also may have vastly more users. As a result, disruption of a cloud system can have widespread impacts.
5. Insecure API
Application User Interface (aka API) is the primary instrument used to operate the system within the cloud infrastructure. This process includes internal use by the company’s employees and external use by consumers via products like mobile or web applications.
The external side is critical due to all data transmission enabling the service and, in return, providing all sorts of analytics. The availability of API makes it a significant cloud security risk. In addition to that, API is involved in gathering data from edge computing devices.
Authentication and encryption are two significant factors that keep the system regulated and safe from harm. However, sometimes the configuration of the API is not up to requirements and contains severe flaws that can compromise its integrity.
The most common problems that occur are:
- Anonymous access
- Lack of access monitoring
- Reusable tokens and passwords
- Clear-text authentication
In a nutshell
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Our solutions safeguard cloud apps and data against major threats, prevent unauthorized access and eliminate data breaches. Talk to our experts and find out how you can improve your cloud security posture.
Schedule a free consultation and find out more about our cloud security solutions today!