Organizations have seen a major shift to a remote/hybrid working model in the past two pandemic years. This has brought in a new set of security challenges.
To meet these challenges effectively and organize the working process with enhanced access control, better mobilization, storage, etc. As a result, many organizations have already, and some others, are in a hurry to adopt cloud computing.
Very popular cloud computing service providers examples are Amazon’s EC2 service and Google’s Google App Engine. The Cloud Adoption and Risk Report: Work from Home Edition from McAfee reveals that adoption of cloud services across a section of industries rose by 50% in the year 2020, and usage of cloud-based collaboration tools saw an uptrend in its usage, up to a whopping 600%.
Are you well versed with the vulnerabilities your organization will be exposed to when shifting operations to the cloud environment? In this article we bring together the most common security risks of cloud computing that you must pay attention to and focus on having all the required security solutions in place to have a smooth transition to cloud services that are publicly hosted. But, first we must understand how secure the cloud environment is (and isn’t).
Is the cloud secure?
Owing to the typical characteristics of cloud computing, certain areas need special security attention, like data privacy, its integrity, regulatory compliance, etc.
In a cloud computing environment, handling any cyber attack is shared between the organization and the cloud service provider. Hence, to ensure hardened cloud security, it is crucial to understand this relationship with utmost clarity and then use appropriate cloud security tools to protect an organization’s distributed networks.
Securing all the crucial data in transit between the web server and the user web browser must always be given due attention. By encrypting all your sensitive data communication using an SSL Certificate, hardening your security protects it from hackers and Man–in––middle attacks by shifting the website’s protocol to secure HTTPS. Simply put, Secure Socket Layer or SSL is a digital protocol that keeps away hackers by encrypting data exchanged between the secured connection. Investing in a cost-effective cheap SSL certificate should be on top of your priority list. Comodo Positive SSL or RapidSSL are affordable options that help secure your connection with premium encryption and validation levels.
An evaluation of risk management procedures and the vendor’s preparation to foresee and act on unpredictable vulnerabilities must be given due importance while selecting a cloud vendor for your enterprise. So let’s look at some of the most common risks of cloud computing
Reduced control over network infrastructure
As organizations move their data and software to the cloud, their IT teams may feel they are losing control of network security because a part of the network security and systems change hands with the cloud service provider. An organization’s sensitive data is now exposed to new threats from the publicly shared infrastructure on the cloud platform and is no more solely controlled by the premises focused network security tools.
So, it becomes important for organizations to monitor their network infrastructure and cloud solutions’ security continuously.
Organizations’ widespread cloud usage for sensitive data storage has exposed them to increased data breach threats. Hackers use complicated techniques and advanced technologies to insert malware through most unsuspecting sources, including private Twitter accounts and YouTube videos, apart from using old but successful phishing attacks. Such evolved malware threats pose a big challenge to cloud security, and organizations need to keep themselves updated with the modern cyber threat methodologies to raise their cloud security levels.
Application Programming Interface(APIs) come as a handy tool for organizations to integrate their software with cloud applications. It helps them to modify the cloud service experience according to their specific requirements. However, as cloud services are publicly hosted, they can be easily accessed by third parties. They can get infected by malware, and hackers can directly access the company’s sensitive data.
In all these cases of personal data processing, protecting patients’ sensitive health information from being used without their consent, or maintaining a secure platform by companies handling crucial financial transaction details of users, compliance with industry standards is a must. With the rules and regulations in place, abiding with the industry standards is strictly enforced by standards like GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS.
Cloud computing is a public platform, which gives access to users at a very big scale. Hence it poses a serious threat to data privacy. Without proper cloud security measures in place by the cloud service provider across its network, it becomes very difficult to monitor how the data is used and who access it.
Hence, organizations can very easily find themselves slapped with non-compliance serious financial and legal penalties. So, any crucial data must be protected by using authentication systems in the organization, and employees must be trained about the high point risks involved with data sharing. There have been incidents when companies like Facebook also faced misuse of their data resources by irresponsible user security practices.
Data Leakage or Loss
The incidents of data leakage or complete loss of data saved on cloud servers could be a real nightmare for organizations as it happened in case of complete wipeout of data for Google, owing to its power lines being struck by lightning. Organizations are already struggling to secure their sensitive data stored on cloud platforms.
Its security is no longer in the hands of IT teams, and they stand vulnerable to malware attacks, data breaches, or loss their cloud service provider faces. According to Bitglass 2020 Cloud Security Report(Source: https://pages.bitglass.com/CD-FY20Q4-Bitglass2020CloudSecurityReport_LP.html ), 66% of respondents considered data leakage as the biggest risk of cloud computing. Furthermore, the use of BYOC devices by the employees poses another big threat to the company’s crucial data stored in their cloud accounts, putting it at risk of being exposed to hackers.
Organizations must put security measures like encryption of stored data, use of multi-factor authentication for access control, having a recovery plan in place, etc., to prevent and minimize the damage caused by any data loss or data breach.
Client Contract Breaches
Businesses are widely run under strict data access and use restriction contracts. The use of cloud services often puts organizations at risk of legal actions by the clients or business partners for violation of data confidentiality contracts. The cloud services exercise their right to share their service data with third parties. Another commonly seen factor responsible for breaching this contract is the employees shifting clients’ confidential and sensitive data to their cloud accounts.
As organizations move towards adopting cloud computing in a big way, it becomes critical to be aware of all the risks associated with cloud computation, as discussed above, and take appropriate measures to prevent any cyber-attacks. Build a safe and secure cloud security infrastructure for your organization and take it to new heights of success.