Safeguarding Your Business in the Cloud
Almost every company has in recent years shifted some of its workload to cloud computing. With the adoption of the cloud comes the necessity to ensure that the organization can safeguard itself from major cloud security threats.
With the application of cloud technology, new security challenges have emerged. Since cloud computing services can be accessed online, anyone with the appropriate privileges can access them. Exposed business data attracts many hackers who try to understand the systems, uncover their vulnerabilities, and exploit them.
Although the cloud offers smooth workflows and can help your business stay organized, there are some security risks that enterprises should be aware of and understand how to avoid. Some are old favorites that apply to on premise deployments as much as cloud, but some are unique to cloud. Among the most common cybersecurity risks are the following:
Some of the most common cybersecurity risks are the following:
Here are the main security risks and threats to anticipate and secure against.
Improperly configured cloud security settings often cause data breaches. This is not unique to cloud, but is exacerbated by the complexity of cloud deployments. The cloud security posture management strategies many organizations use can be inadequate for protecting their cloud-based infrastructure.
This can be the case due to various reasons. Since cloud infrastructure is designed to be easy to use and facilitate data sharing, it is difficult for companies to ensure their data's confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
Moreover, many organizations use multiple third-party cloud-based infrastructures, and because of that, they do not have complete visibility and control over their infrastructure. That’s why some organizations might be unfamiliar with the vulnerabilities and the specifics of the security of their cloud infrastructure.
Additionally, many organizations have multi-cloud deployments with different security controls. It is easy for a misconfiguration or security oversight to leave an organization's cloud-based resources vulnerable to attackers.
Unlike on-premises infrastructure, cloud-based deployments are hosted outside the network perimeter and are at least indirectly accessible from the public Internet.
While this is helpful for employees and customers to access this infrastructure, it also makes it easier for an attacker to obtain unauthorized access to an organization's cloud-based resources. Improperly set up security measures or compromised credentials can allow an attacker to get direct access, potentially without the organization even knowing.
Many people have extremely poor password security, including using the same passwords for multiple websites and creating weak ones. This issue magnifies the impact of phishing attacks and data breaches since attackers can access multiple accounts with the same credentials.
This, also, is not unique to cloud, but cloud deployments are more vulnerable. As enterprises increasingly rely on cloud-based infrastructure and applications for critical business processes, account hijacking is a more serious cloud security challenge. Once a hacker gains control of an account, they can manipulate data, launch further attacks, or use the hijacked account to attack other users or systems within the cloud infrastructure.
Insider threats are a serious security risk for any business. A hostile insider already has authorized access to a company's network and is knowledgeable of its sensitive resources. It can be difficult for an organization to identify a malicious insider because most attackers are only discovered when they do something extremely out of the ordinary – attempt to get higher degree access or manipulate documents that they don’t even need for their daily tasks, for example.
Finding a malicious insider on the cloud is even more complicated. With cloud deployments, companies lose control over their underlying infrastructure, leaving many traditional security solutions worthless. This, combined with the fact that cloud-based infrastructure is directly accessible from the public Internet and often suffers from security misconfigurations, makes detecting malicious insiders much more challenging.
Denial of Service Attacks
Cloud is crucial to the operations of most companies. They use it to store important business data and run important internal and external-facing apps. Hence a successful Denial of Service (DoS) assault against cloud infrastructure will significantly impact a company's operations. As a result, denial-of-service (DoS) attacks in which the attacker demands a ransom to end the attack or just the downtime caused by such an attack pose a major risk to an organization's cloud-based resources.
External Data Sharing
Cloud is designed to make data sharing easier. Many cloud applications allow you to invite as a collaborator directly via email or share a link that allows anyone with the URL to view/edit the shared resource.
While this ease of data sharing is helpful, it poses a significant cloud security risk. Link-based sharing is a common choice since it is easier than individually inviting each intended collaborator, which can be a bit annoying. This shared URL can be forwarded, stolen as part of a hack, or guessed by a cybercriminal, allowing unauthorized access to the shared resource.
Tips to Improve Cloud Security
Here are 7 tips to improve your cloud security posture:
1. Pick a reputable cloud provider
Choosing a reputable and trustworthy cloud provider is one of the best strategies to lower your cloud security risk. Examine the provider's security procedures and certifications to confirm that they meet industry standards and regulations.
2. Use strong passwords
Using strong passwords is crucial for your cloud account's protection. Avoid using the same password for several accounts by combining letters, numbers, and symbols. Create and store complicated passwords, or consider utilizing a secure password manager.
3. Activate multi-factor authentication (MFA)
MFA adds an extra degree of protection by asking users to submit more than one authentication method. To prevent unwanted access, enable MFA for your cloud accounts.
4. Maintain software updates
Update your software and applications with the latest security patches and upgrades. Many vulnerabilities are found and repaired through updates, so being up-to-date is crucial.
5. Encrypt your data
Encrypting your data gives an additional layer of security. Encryption scrambles your data so that authorized users can only access it. Many cloud providers provide encryption solutions for data in transit and at rest.
You can also make use of a good VPN service that utilizes encryption to protect your Internet traffic.
6. Monitor your cloud environment
Monitoring your cloud environment for unusual activity can help you quickly notice and respond to security problems. Consider adopting a cloud security solution that gives real-time warnings and builds threat intelligence.
7. Train your employees
Your staff is your first line of defense against security risks. Ensure that they are taught cloud security best practices and understand their roles and responsibilities in ensuring the security of your cloud environment.
The adoption of cloud services has brought about significant benefits, including scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency. However, these benefits come with a tradeoff, as cloud infrastructures are susceptible to various security threats that can cause irreparable damage to your business.
By implementing the measures mentioned in this guide, like secure access management, security awareness training, and just generally taking care of your cloud environment, you can safeguard your business from cloud security risks and gain a competitive advantage in the market. By staying vigilant and proactive, you can ensure the safety and integrity of your business data in the cloud.