Security has always been a concern for organizations migrating to the cloud. Although cloud security is constantly evolving, all enterprises need to be aware and protect themselves against security threats on-site and in the cloud. Cloud computing transforms how an organization handles data use and storage, shares applications, and manages workloads. Along with introducing many new innovations, cloud computing has also been responsible for introducing a whole new spectrum of security challenges and threats. You will find information below about the top twelve security threats your organization will likely 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 is, you need to be on the lookout for bad people posing as legitimate developers, operators, and legitimate users. All it takes is one bad person, one hacker to infiltrate your system, and they will have the ability to read, modify and delete your data as well as spy or snoop on data that is in transit, release malicious software that often appears to have originated 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 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 interface UI’s otherwise referred to as APIs 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 security of the APIs. Every API has to have security built in to protect against both malicious and accidental attempts to work around security policies and protocols.

System Vulnerability

When we talk about system vulnerabilities, we are speaking about bugs in programs that hackers or attackers can use to infiltrate your system to steal data and 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 in close proximity to one another and given access to share resources and memory. This opens up a whole new plane for attackers to target.

Account Hijacking 

Account hijacking has been a long-standing threat, but the threat is escalated with cloud services. Suppose an attacker gains access to a legitimate user’s credentials. In that case, 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 easily become new bases for attack and result in compromising the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of those services.

Data Breaches

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

Malicious Insiders

A system administrator can access 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 greater 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 basically parasitic cyberattacks. An APT infiltrates a system to get a foothold in the IT infrastructure of a target enterprise with the goal of stealing data. APTs pursue their goals over extended time 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 normal traffic until its objective is met.

Lack of Due Diligence

When creating your business 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 expose your organization to many serious risks.

Data Loss

Data can be lost in the cloud for several reasons. It can be by a malicious attack, 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 data backup processes. You should have a robust disaster recovery and business continuity plan.

Denial of Service

Denial of Service attacks are designed to interfere or prevent service users from using or accessing the data and applications. This is done by forcing a cloud service provider to consume vast amounts of finite system resources, including 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. This is a particularly hideous attack where hijackers can infiltrate your systems and hold them for high-dollar ransoms. It is a serious threat that your organization needs to prepare against.

Cloud Service Abuse

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

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 sometimes results in security weaknesses 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.

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Oct 6 21
Christina Zumwalt