The cloud offers agility to enterprises of all sizes. This technology continues to transform the capabilities of organizations. The achievements obtained by using a cloud-based infrastructure are many, but this kind of deployment also presents security concerns.
Cloud adoption hesitancy is primarily due to the mounting issue of data sovereignty. An increase in cloud adoption leads to an increase of vulnerable information being stored. When this information is not properly safeguarded, it is at risk. What Are the Biggest Threats?
A data breach is an incident where an unauthorized party accesses private data. Perhaps a rogue user is snooping through in-transit information or obtaining credit card details. Any illicit endeavor that jeopardizes the privacy of a patient, customer or employee is classified as a breach.
Criminals do not discriminate. A large organization’s data is as useful to them as that of a small company. They just want to get their hands on exploitable data. Data breaches occur all the time, making them a big concern for cloud users. The risks increase when security measures – like proper portable device management and multi-factor authentication – are ignored.
Credentials and Access Management
Scalable identity access management systems are an essential component when it comes to protecting your organization from data breaches. These systems are becoming more unified and scalable in order to handle changes in the work environment. If an employee is terminated, these systems de-provision their authorization and seal off all ingresses.
Having multifactor authentication in place along with strong passwords and a scheduled rotation of cryptographic keys – TLS certificates, for example – help mitigate incidents.
Insecure Interfaces and APIs
Some cloud-computing providers offer customers a set of software user interfaces (UIs) or application programming interfaces (APIs). These are used for both management and collaborative aspects of cloud services.
UIs and APIs have accompanying safety implications that users should be aware of. Employing multi-factor authentication and monitoring for sudden spikes in traffic are two practices that will help keep UIs and APIs secure.
System vulnerabilities are known weak spots within software that hackers can easily infiltrate. There are a myriad of reasons why criminals would want to exploit these vulnerabilities for their own advantage.
Faults are inevitable in even the most advanced mechanism. Both legacy and digital infrastructure are susceptible to exploitation. The approach may be different, but the end results are equally devastating.
Staying current with software updates is an excellent habit. No matter how inconvenient an update may be, it cannot compare to the calamity of a breach.
Have you ever used the same password for multiple accounts? Millions of people use the same login information because it is easy to remember. This common practice makes it incredibly simple for unauthorized parties to access sensitive information.
Once a hacker has obtained your cloud credentials, there is no end to the possible crimes they can commit. Perhaps they are interested in tracking your daily transactions. Or maybe they want to steal the identities of your clients. They may just prefer to fool the people in your database by sending bogus emails that expose them to viruses.
Using unique, complicated passwords that have no ties to personal information is the best way to thwart hijackers.
A malicious insider is an internal individual (such as a system administrator) with access to sensitive data. Also known as an insider threat, malicious insiders can sabotage operations, swindle funds and invade the privacy of others all for personal gain.
Malicious insiders make headlines every year at major corporations such as Facebook and Coca-Cola. Any business that relies exclusively on their cloud provider to maintain 100% of overall security is at risk of this issue. There is no failsafe plan to handle this threat, but enforcing regulations, providing security training and implementing proper authentication procedures can help diminish the chances of this occurring.
Advanced Persistent Threats
APTs can sidestep safeguards and infiltrate infrastructure in order to pilfer data. Usually this happens through a malware-infected email, file or application. The malware establishes itself, steals the information it needs and removes the evidence. All that is left is the destruction.
Unfortunately, these cyber attacks slip under the radar all too often. The only way to stop them is by implementing consistent security measures with the help of your cloud provider.
Fraudsters and malicious software are not always to blame for data loss. Sometimes, cloud data can be compromised by simple human error. An accidental deletion without a proper backup in place can cost your company dearly! A natural disaster, fire or flood can also wipe out all data that hasn’t been previously protected.
Your best defense against data loss? Daily data backups and off-site storage. These two practices can keep your business running smoothly no matter what unforeseen complications arise.
Insufficient Due Diligence
Understanding due diligence, and successfully developing a plan with your provider, are two important steps for maintaining compliance following cloud adoption. Not taking the time to execute these strategies can put a company at risk financial and legal implications. Canadian companies should be particularly vigilant of compliance as recent U.S. legislation has made data residency a fundamental concern.
Abuse and Nefarious Use of Cloud Services
Free cloud service trials may sound enticing, but these can be catalysts for fraud. Anyone with a credit can rent space from certain cloud providers and can open up a host of threats for your organization. Hackers may be able to bypass the isolation feature that barricades cloud customers from one another and compromise the private information of others.
Choosing a provider shouldn’t be a hasty decision. This behavior can be avoided when you select a quality provider who employs stringent security mechanisms.
Denial of Service
Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks can range from a nuisance to a horrendous nightmare. A DoS attack swamps the bandwidth of a system with traffic, leading to complete blackout. Users are unable to access applications and data that are essential for business functionality.
For many cloud providers, DoS attacks are easy to mitigate. However, some struggle with this task and could leave your business susceptible to this draining hazard. This is another important area to evaluate when choosing a provider.
Shared Technology Vulnerabilities
The scalability that makes cloud service so unique is achieved when providers share their infrastructure and applications. This tactic is very safe when proper mitigations are in place.
Multi-factor authentication, a host-based intrusion detection system and patches for shared resources are some of the ways that threats can be prevented. Your cloud provider should be proficient at ensuring that your information is not in harms way when it is in their hands.
Settling on a secure cloud service provider is the only route to take if you want comprehensive protection from the vulnerabilities listed. Here is a quick checklist of practices that your provider should fulfill:
- A secure infrastructure for all forms of cloud services.
- A set of security strategies that address the management of access to systems.
- Comprehensive identity management that permits authorization and sets authentication standards to prevent malicious users from changing or stealing data.
- Operational data backup and retention procedures. Also, a disaster recovery and business continuity plan to keep everything running in the face of an environmental catastrophe.
- A physical security directive that ensures your data is safe from non-digital hazards that could affect the hardware and external equipment within a datacenter.
Education is the key to integrating cloud services successfully and avoiding major risk factors. Working with a trustworthy provider can help you make the right decisions for your business, your staff and your clients. Remember that the risks will never go away, but they are best navigated with a team of experts.