Cloud computing has completely reshaped the digital landscape, allowing organizations in all industries to usher their infrastructure into the 21st century and unlock a slew of benefits. Like all new technologies, however, the cloud also comes with a few disadvantages. Security threats are at the top of this list.
Most IT professionals identify security as one of their most significant challenges in the cloud. Every year, it seems as though we hear about another company that has fallen victim to outsider attacks, breaches, and other security risks. Threats such as these highlight the importance of strong security protocols at any organization that relies on the cloud.
Read on to explore a few of the biggest threats that can undermine your organization’s cloud security:
1. Data breaches
Data breaches have become an unfortunate reality of cloud use. Look at Yahoo, whose 2013 breach saw more than 3 billion user accounts become compromised. Other high-profile breaches have affected organizations in every industry from retail to banking.
Where some breaches arise from malicious attackers, others result from simple human error. Whatever the cause, these incidents see organizations’ sensitive information become available to parties that are otherwise unauthorized to view it. Depending on the type of data that they manage, companies may receive fines or even become subject to lawsuits when a data breach occurs.
2. Insider threats
Cloud users are finding insider threats a growing problem when it comes to data security. According to the 2018 Insider Threat Report from Crowd Research Partners, over half of respondents said that they had experienced an insider attack that year.
In many ways, insider threats are even more frightening than regular data breaches. Unlike outside entities, insiders have the authorization to access cloud environments and the data that lives within it. As such, both current and former employees may be able to misuse an organization’s information, whether with malicious intent or not.
3. Spectre and Meltdown
4. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks
DDoS attacks are unique in that they do not focus solely on giving third parties access to organizations’ sensitive information. As the name suggests, DDoS refers to attacks that take down cloud users’ servers and deny access to their resources. Attackers do so by overloading cloud servers with requests for bandwidth, memory, and more. As such, the entire cloud system slows down and makes it impossible to connect to all of these resources.
Sometimes, DDoS attackers will use these attacks to distract organizations while they conduct more malicious attacks on customer data. Generally, DDoS bars organizations from their cloud resources for long enough that it begins to affect their reputations and cost them clients.
5. Compromised accounts
Compromised accounts fall somewhere in between data breaches and insider threats. A tried-and-true method of accessing sensitive company information, account hijacking occurs when third parties acquire the credentials needed to access an organization’s cloud files. In most cases, attackers will reuse these credentials to prolong their attacks on cloud users and their data centers.
Phishing and exposing vulnerabilities in cloud software are just two of the techniques that attackers use to obtain account credentials. Organizations can prevent unauthorized access by requiring their employees to use two-factor authentication when logging in. Otherwise, they should implement policies that forbid them from distributing their credentials to others.
6. Loss of data
Not all cloud security threats bear malicious intent. As a result, many organizations tend to overlook data loss when formulating their cloud security strategies. In many cases, cloud users will lose data due to natural disasters such as fires and floods. Sometimes, their cloud service providers will accidentally erase some or all of the information that they have stored in their data centers. Without the right protocols in place, organizations will lose this data permanently.
The best way for organizations to mitigate the risk of data loss is to follow the same practices that ensure business continuity. Every adopter should create physical backups of their cloud files and store them in more than one geographic region. This will prevent harmless errors from compromising important company data housed in each site.
7. Poor access management controls
Most organizations leverage access management tools to protect their most sensitive information in the cloud. However, many of these users fail to implement controls that are sufficient enough to prevent third-party users from accessing their cloud data. Leaving systems vulnerable like this can result in unauthorized individuals gaining access to, modifying, and even erasing data from the cloud.
No organization can protect itself against data loss when their access management tools allow any potential thief to connect with their information. Cloud users must employ a mix of keys, passwords, and other authentication tools to increase their cloud security in this regard.