The 6 Biggest Cloud Security ThreatsOctober 23, 2019
Cloud computing brings a number of benefits. It is affordable, because the infrastructure costs are shared. It is also efficient in terms of resources and labor, something that contributes to its lower costs and environmental benefits. Cloud computing is scalable, too, and allows you to create backups effortlessly or set up distributed servers to improve performance for end users. However, it brings with it a number of security risks. Here are the 6 biggest cloud security threats.
Distributed Denial of Service Attacks
Cloud computing initially seemed immune to denial-of-service attacks that could shut down your servers. Large scale denial-of-service attacks against cloud computing services seemed impossible due to the sheer amount of resources it would require.
Unfortunately, hackers have learned how to leverage zombie computers, compromised cell phones, and even IoT (internet of things) devices to create large enough denial-of-service attacks. Making matters worse, the sheer variety of sources make it harder to shut down by blocking all traffic from affected systems. If the cloud computing system gets enough traffic, it will suffer performance problems or go down altogether.
Shared Computing Services
Cloud solutions may offer decent security to hackers trying to break in but fail to implement enough security measures between clients. This can lead to shared resources, applications and systems, meaning you could be hacked by other clients within the cloud computing service. For example, advanced persistent threats or APTs can move laterally through the network, moving from client to client.
Furthermore, someone targeting one of the other clients in the cloud could impact you, too. On top of that, insecure interfaces and APIs used by the cloud services provider put every customer at risk.
Employee negligence and employee mistakes are the biggest security issues for every IT system. However, they are far more dangerous in a cloud system. Employees could log into cloud systems from their desktop computers, mobile phones and other devices. This opens the door to malware on their personal devices infecting your data or software on the cloud, leaving the cloud vulnerable through that many more access points.
Phishing and social engineering attacks target your people, too. Mistakes by employees who click a phishing email and log in with their credentials gives hackers the ability to log in with legitimate accounts to the cloud, giving them access to your data or critical computing infrastructure. With your team’s credentials, they could do so without hacking anyone’s personal device and break into your system from anywhere. This is why nearly 40 percent of businesses fear moving to the cloud – they lose control over the way that data is stored and who has access to it. Nor is the fear unfounded, since one study found that nine in ten companies had compromised employee account information circulating on the dark web.
Encrypting and tokenizing data before it reaches the cloud are two ways you can minimize the damage that could occur if your cloud service provider is the target of a data breach. Limiting permissions on employee accounts so that the curious can’t access data they shouldn’t see or accidentally alter it is another. There are technological solutions to fighting introduced malware or deliberate insider data theft.
Data loss can happen for a variety of reasons. You may not be backing up your data often enough. This can cost you several days or weeks of data when the system is restored. Improper data syncing prevents regular backups. Failing to have backups of your backups in a secure location means that, if the main system is corrupted or lost, you’ve lost your data. All of this makes your business more vulnerable to ransomware or a similar disaster. Solutions to this problem include business continuity plans and disaster recovery plans.
This issue is separate from the dearth of business and IT managers who have the skills to work with cloud computing. For example, managers must understand the new financial model that comes with cloud computing as well as the technical knowledge involved. They’re afraid to move to the cloud, because the data manager is still liable for any data breach that may occur. Whether the data is accidentally deleted, corrupted or encrypted by malware is irrelevant to the fear of being fired when it is lost. Nor is the fear unfounded, since executives regularly resign after massive data breaches.
That makes this the best time to get a masters in cyber security. This way, you’ll have the education and credentials necessary to move into IT or general business management. You can even get a cyber security masters online in two years of part time classes, in which you’ll learn how to mitigate risks, identify and deal with threats, and understand the complex regulatory environment.
General System Vulnerabilities
Cloud computing systems are fairly secure, but they continue to contain a variety of vulnerabilities. This is especially true in networks hosting multiple third party platforms and complex infrastructures. The more pieces there are working together, the more there is to be kept up to date and the more points there are for hackers to exploit. This makes upgrade protocols and proper patching just as important as constant network monitoring.
Non-Compliance with Regulatory Mandates
For business leaders, compliance with regulatory mandates is a critical requirement. Whether it is HIPAA medical privacy regulations, European Union data protection, GLBA, FISMA, ITAR, or PCI DSS, cloud services providers must provide compliance if the business using them is going to be able to say their data storage and management does. This is why more than a third of companies are concerned with how they’d assure compliance. After all, any security breach that results in non-compliance could cause expensive fines from the government in addition to lawsuits. In the case of ITAR violations, the penalties could include loss of business or even criminal penalties.
These security threats explain why only a third of companies surveyed said they were going full steam ahead with cloud adoptions. However, it is possible to mitigate these risks so that you can enjoy the myriad of benefits that come with cloud computing.