Cloud computing is becoming popular like never before. Most major industries already rely on cloud services for fast file sharing, data communication, data processing, and using web services. Gartner estimates that the cloud services market will grow as much as 17% to total $266.4 billion in 2020.
Despite the importance of cloud computing resources and services, security threats still loom over cloud users. 92% of IT professionals feel that the lack of cloud security programs creates a readiness gap in organizations.
Top Cybersecurity Risks In Cloud Computing
Cloud computing services use APIs for cloud provisioning. These APIs orchestrate, manage, and monitor cloud environments. However, the problem with this approach is that the security and availability of these services can become compromised due to these APIs.
Weak API security measures expose the cloud to risk integrity and confidentiality issues.
Moreover, it can also affect the accountability and availability of the cloud system.
In most cases, these APIs continue to be security vulnerabilities in applications as they are always connected to the open internet. Although companies can overcome these issues with the help of security-focused code reviews and penetration testing, maintaining security is an ongoing challenge.
Data Breach and Data Leak
Data breaches are accidents where external elements access and extract confidential information without authorization. When this happens, sensitive data ends up in a place where it isn’t supposed to be, culminating in a data leak.
Leaked information is occasionally opened to the public. In most cases, malicious elements online conduct data breaches to sell information at the black market or to blackmail organizations for ransom.
Although the extent of the consequences of these leaks depends on the crisis management skills of companies, such events damage the reputation of companies. The management appears to be incompetent, and clients stop trusting these services with their sensitive information.
Although data breaches are harmful to your company and its reputation, data loss is even worse. Data loss causes irreversible damages to the company and causes a number of problems for cloud owners. The most dangerous thing about these issues is that they are hard to predict and even harder to handle.
There are many reasons why companies lose precious data. However, it usually happens when the data is either altered or modified in some way. After the information is changed, it’s difficult to revert it back to its previous state, which is common in dynamic databases.
Likewise, data also gets deleted because of accidental or wrongful erasure of information. If there are no backups in place, restoring this data is no longer possible and the company loses data, as a result. This usually happens due to messy database structure, system glitches, human errors and malicious intent.
At the same time, many companies lose data if they use unreliable storage medium outage. However, the main reason behind such problems is using cloud services from an unreliable provider. Lastly, you can also lose data when you no longer have access to it. This too, happens mostly because of human errors and the lack of encryption keys and other credentials.
Abuse of Authorized Access
Abuse of authorized access can expose the cloud system to major cybersecurity risks. This can happen from abuse of access by both the client’s staff and the cloud service provider.
Cybercriminals can exploit vulnerabilities created from abuse of access. They can hijack the network, data, or system of the organization (or the CSP).
Gaps in security also make it possible to exfiltrate sensitive data across servers. Malicious users can target their attacks and use cloud services as a tool for data exfiltration. The impact is a lot worse when the organization is using an IaaS cloud service.
Abuse of authorized access is usually ill-intentioned and done to harm the organization itself. The organization has to use strict policies and security mechanisms to stop insiders from damaging the company.
Failure of Separation among Multiple Tenants
Poor deployment of shared cloud resources by the CSP can lead to failure of separation among multiple tenants. This failure can get exploited by attackers. They can get their hands on an organization’s sensitive data through another company in the same shared cloud.
Multi-tenancy not only expands the attack surface and but also increases the risk of data leakage upon a separation failure.
6 Tips to Make Cloud Secure
Cybersecurity risks in the cloud industry are valid concerns for cloud users. However, strict security mechanisms and capable deployment from the cloud service provider can lower these risks to a negligible level. Here are some of the tips you can follow to prevent cloud computing risks.
Implement Powerful Authentication Protocols
The traditional logging method like user-name is proving to be insufficient. It’s easier for smart hackers to breach a security layer that only has a user name or password.
Having two-factor or even multi-factor authentication is a great way to guarantee security on the cloud. These authentication methods ensure that only authorized people have access to your cloud.
User Access Management
As mentioned before, most breaches are a result of carelessness by the end-user. To minimize the likelihood of such incidents, we have to limit access to specialized features.
User access rights ensure that employees only use applications or manipulate data that directly relates to their own job. It prevents employees from changing sensitive information by accident. Moreover, your applications would still be safe from a breach if some hacker steals employee credentials.
Monitor User Activities
Real-time monitoring and analysis of user activity are necessary to detect any deviation from normal usage. Logging user activity also helps to detect unknown IPs or devices before they can cause any security hazard.
Abnormal activity often indicates that there has been an attempt to breach your system. Catching these attempts early stops hackers from inflicting any serious damage and also allows security experts to fix any security issues.
Provide Employee Training
Hackers work their whole lives to crack security layers and gain access to confidential information. Intruding into systems gets a lot easier when employees are not careful with sensitive information.
These hackers use social engineering techniques such as spoof websites, phishing, and spying through social media. For these reasons, it’s compulsory to train employees on cybersecurity risks and how to avoid being scammed.
Implement Data Back-Up and Recovery Policy
On average, IT downtimes cost businesses $5,600 a minute, depending on their reliance on cloud services. For this reason, it’s essential to decrease the impact of a data security breach.
You can establish a strong data back-up and recovery plan to protect your data. It also helps to ensure that all your critical processes still continue to work.
Create a Comprehensive Off-boarding Process
When employees leave your company, it’s best to ensure that they don’t have access to your data, systems, customer information, or other intellectual properties. As every employee usually has access to various different cloud platforms and applications, you should invest in a systemized deprovisioning process. Doing so ensures that the access rights of all leaving employees are revoked.
Though most cybersecurity risks in cloud arise from end-user negligence, cloud providers are also at fault sometimes. Following cloud security best practices can help you avoid cybersecurity risks and implement secure cloud services.