Security has always been a concern for businesses when migrating to the cloud. Although cloud security is continually evolving, all enterprises need to be aware and protect themselves against security threats on-site and in the cloud. Cloud computing transforms the way an organization handles data use and storage, shares applications, and manages workloads. Along with introducing many innovations, cloud computing has also been responsible for launching a whole new spectrum of security challenges and threats.

The exponential increase in public cloud usage means that more data and more highly sensitive data is exposed to higher risk. The most important thing for a company to understand when they migrate to the cloud security is the responsibility of the customer or enterprise utilizing the cloud and not the cloud provider. 

It is essential for your leadership, and IT teams to keep up to date with the latest advances in security. Included would be the evolution of blockchain and how it is changing cloud security as well as taking the appropriate steps to be vigilant about your security. Making sure it is done at all levels within and beyond your organization to your cloud providers, as well. You will find information below about the top twelve security threats your organization is likely to face this year and in the future.

Inadequate Access, Identity and Credentialing Management

No system is immune from bad people. No matter how good your security, you need to be on the lookout for bad people posing as legitimate developers, operators, and authorized users. All it will take is the wrong person, or a hacker to infiltrate your system, and they will have the ability to read, modify, and delete your data. They can spy or snoop on data that is in transit, release malicious software that often looks like it came from a legitimate source, and issue control and management functions. The key to mitigating this threat is robust identity, access, and credentialing procedures and protocols. This protocol is a security must. Controlling access to data is a fundamental principle for cloud and on-site security.

Unsecure Interfaces and APIs

When you migrate to the cloud, you use a set of software user interfaces, UI’s otherwise referred to as API’s to manage and interact with cloud services. Management, provisioning, and monitoring are all functions carried out with these interfaces. Cloud security and the ability to access and use cloud services all depend on the protection of the APIs. Every API needs to have security built in to protect against both malicious and accidental attempts to work around security policies and protocols.

System Vulnerabilities

When we talk about system vulnerabilities, we speak about bugs in programs that hackers can use to infiltrate your system to steal data. The hackers also can take control of your system, causing service disruptions and more. You should understand the vulnerabilities of the components that comprise your operating system and protect against them because those vulnerabilities put all of your services and data at risk. With cloud multi-tenancy, organizations are placed close to one another and given access to share resources and memory. The cloud helps to open up a whole new plane for attackers to target.

Account Hijacking 

Account hijacking has been a long-standing threat, but the danger can escalate with cloud services. If an attacker gains access to a legitimate user’s credentials, they can do severe damage. They can manipulate data, create false information, eavesdrop on corporate activities and transactions, and even redirect customers to fake or illegitimate sites. Account and service instances can quickly become new bases for attack and result in compromising the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of those services.

Data Breaches

Data breaches can be the result of a cyber attack, simple human error, or inadequate security protocols and practices. It can involve confidential information not intended for public release, including personal health information, tax, and financial information, trade secrets. Personal identification information or intellectual property. Data security is ranked as the number one challenge for cloud customers.

Malicious Insiders

A system administrator can have access to all types of information, including sensitive information, critical systems, and data. If your enterprise has systems that depend solely on your cloud provider for security, your systems and data are exposed to much higher risk. Your organization should have security protocols in place that monitor and control third party access to your systems and data.

Advanced Persistent Threats 

These are parasitic cyberattacks. An APT infiltrates a system to get a foothold in the IT infrastructure of a target enterprise to steal data. APTs pursue their goals over extended periods and can often adapt to the very security measures implemented to defend against them. Once an APT gets a foothold in the infrastructure, it can move laterally through data centers and blend in unnoticed with regular traffic until their objective is met.

Lack of Due Diligence

When creating your company’s strategy, it is crucial to consider cloud technologies and cloud providers. Take the time to develop a thorough checklist for your due diligence to evaluate both technologies and providers. Do not rush to adopt cloud technologies and choose a provider. If you do not do your due diligence, you will be exposing your organization to several serious risks.

Data Loss 

Data can be lost in the cloud for several reasons. It can be by a malicious attack, and accidental deletion, or even a physical catastrophe such as an earthquake, tornado, or some other act of nature. Data loss can be permanent if you or your provider fail to build in data redundancy and back-up data processes. You should have a robust disaster recovery and business continuity plan.

Denial of Service

Denial of Service attacks is designed to interfere or prevent service users from using or accessing the data and applications. The restriction of access can be done by forcing a cloud service provider to consume vast amounts of finite system resources. The resources can include processing power, memory, disk space, or network bandwidth to cause a system slowdown resulting in all legitimate service users without access to the services. Ransomware attacks have skyrocketed over the past several years. These are particularly hideous attacks where hijackers can infiltrate your systems and hold them for high dollar ransoms. Your organization needs to prepare against it as a severe threat that can occur.

Cloud Service Abuse

Cloud computing models are exposed to malicious attacks through activities. These activities, including poorly secured cloud deployments, free cloud service trials, and fraudulent account sign-ups using payment instrument fraud. There is always a possibility that an attacker could leverage cloud computing resources to target an organization and its users or another cloud provider. The types of abuse or misuse of cloud resources include distributed denial of service attacks, email spam, and phishing campaigns.

The Vulnerability of Shared Technology

Cloud providers can scale to meet your needs by sharing infrastructure, platforms, and applications. Cloud technology “as-a-service” offering is generally offered without changing the off-the-shelf hardware or software. This can result in security weaknesses. That is because the underlying components that comprise the infrastructure that supports cloud services deployment may not have been designed to provide strong isolation properties for multi-customer applications or multi-tenant architecture. This can lead to shared technology vulnerabilities in all delivery models for cloud services.

Jan 13 21
Christina Zumwalt
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