Storing data is one of the most common enterprise applications of the cloud. It’s more cost-effective than the on-premise storage solutions, and the employees can access systems from any location with any device. Likewise, there are other benefits to using the cloud, such as offering better employee productivity and faster time for marketing.
On the other hand, cloud storage solutions also have potential security risks that go along with them. And with that in mind, as a business owner, you must know and familiarize yourself with these risks before choosing the cloud as a storage solution for your business data.
While most cloud storage systems have fair security measures, it’d be worth noting that these measures may have some vulnerabilities too. And more so, they can vary significantly from one another in terms of security coverage. Furthermore, cloud security is a shared duty between an enterprise and a cloud service provider. And your business must do its part to lessen the security risks of using the cloud.
One way to do that is to be aware of such security risks. This article will tackle that.
1. Private Data Loss
Content confidentiality is one of the biggest cloud security threats and concerns for information technology (IT) and information security heads. Enterprises of various sizes and across all industries, particularly the financial and healthcare companies, have taken the necessary actions to secure the confidentiality of content in their old data centers because of loss of reputation, expensive costs from disclosures, and penalties coming from breaches.
Cloud solutions present different challenges for protecting content. These challenges can come in the form of a data breach, data theft, and data loss. Likewise, in infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) settings, people have the chance to develop a structure for their business within the cloud. And access control, monitoring, and encryption can minimize the risk of content loss.
2. Internal Threats
Besides external cloud security risks, there are also internal threats. Essentially, internal threats originate from a person or employee with authorized access to your business’s IT system and infrastructure.
A business must prioritize this kind of threat because insider threats pose a large amount of risk to the enterprise’s essential data, whether accidental or ill-intended. Even if your IT security teams conclude that your data is protected inside an authorized cloud solution, this incident may still occur.
Examples of situations include:
- An unvigilant employee who downloads data onto their device later loses such data to an actor from the outside when there has been a breach with the personal device.
- An employee with malicious intent downloads data from an enterprise cloud service and later uploads it to an unauthorized cloud storage solution or departs with the corporate data on a physical device like a USB.
- Careless team members delete highly sensitive and confidential data or alter the enterprise’s internal system settings, disrupting the business or company’s regular operations.
- Consultants or contractors within the enterprise access and store a copy of confidential data ill-intently or unwarily.
Since the loss of confidential data is indeed a significant security threat to your organization, it’s recommended to apply the principle of least privilege to provide only the necessary permissions to your employees. Furthermore, it’s also good to know some of the best practices for preventing them. These are:
- Document and constantly impose cybersecurity policies and controls.
- Utilize security solutions such as antivirus software and tools.
- Execute enterprise-level risk assessments.
- Carry out rigorous password and account management practices and policies,
- Strengthen network parameter security.
A cryptocurrency is a digital money that exists in the online space with no tangible physical form. They were made as a substitute for traditional money and have attracted popularity for their innovation and growth potential.
If your company uses cryptocurrency as a form of payment, one of the cloud security risks to be familiar with is called crypto-jacking. Crypto-jacking is where malicious hackers access, without authority, the organization’s computing resources to mine cryptocurrency. It’s a somewhat new security risk in the cloud that was broadly taken on in 2018 due to the increasing cryptocurrency trend.
Here, hackers search through an organization’s files and codes for API keys to gain access to the company’s cloud. Once accessed, hackers siphon unlimited CPU resources for crypto mining, leading to a large increase in account costs. Using this method, hackers can gravely accelerate their efforts of crypto-jacking to illegally mine for currency.
Likewise, crypto-jacking programs may be malware installed on an employee’s computer through infected websites, phishing, or other methods common with malware attacks. Likewise, they may come in the form of small pieces of code placed on web pages or digital ads that only work while the unaware person is visiting a specific website.
Illicit cryptocurrency mining needs considerable computational power and electricity to run all that power from a malicious hacker. While many legal cryptocurrency miners utilize their tools, they do so at a non-trivial cost. Cybercriminals secretly do their ill-intended crypto mining on other people’s systems to obtain the rewards while sustaining zero expenses linked to the mining process.
4. Lack Of Visibility
One of the most considerable security risks to using the cloud is a lack of proper visibility, which has raised concerns regarding accountability. Traditional providers haven’t been early in joining the switch to virtualization. Also, they have taken years before providing a solution that can address the data that flows continuously between virtual machines without physically touching a network interface.
Virtualization has resulted in a severe lack of visibility and supervision that has been further aggravated by susceptibilities or weaknesses within a neighbor’s multi-user cloud setting. This caused a constant challenge concerning the accountability of who’s responsible.
Likewise, another concern that can occur because of this lack of visibility is that businesses will have a great chance to develop a false sense of security. Even if a business thinks that their data is safe in the cloud because they trusted in the capability of such a cloud system, blind spots and the lack of visibility might prove otherwise.
As such there are some ways to increase the cloud’s visibility, such as:
- Have Probes
For applications created within the company, take note of adding probes that monitor performance to the code. Have probes at particular points where it’s crucial to maintain visibility.
For instance, you would maintain a probe at points where the program signals that some important scenario happened, such as an activity that isn’t parallel to the company’s database.
Overall, probes help in creating events that can then be captured and assessed. Ensure that you also add the event type, time, and any vital message data in the probe’s event.
- Add Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning Technology
Artificial intelligence and Machine learning (AI/ML) tools are presently a popular tool to enhance visibility in the cloud because they increase speed and advancement in interpreting data. Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools can be a good pair together with your operations personnel in data analysis.
On the other hand, the significant challenge in enhancing the visibility of the cloud through AI and ML technology is to have tools that take note of every critical data. Capabilities for obtaining and importing data for instant use or storage, such as connections to different sources of data differ greatly between tools.
As such admins should analyze the technological tools while putting into consideration their requirements and sources of data. Even after having a watchful assessment, take a trial before using an AI or ML tools.
5. Unsecured Application Programming Interface
The application programming interface (API) allows an organization to customize its experience in the cloud. On the other hand, an API can also be a risk to cloud security because of its nature and vulnerabilities. Not only does an API allow enterprises to customize features of their cloud services to suit their needs, but it also authenticates, gives access, and takes into effect the encryption.
Because the basic structure of API grows to offer better service, so does its risks to cloud security. Cybercriminals have discovered three common ways to exploit an API:
- Profiting From Increasing Number Of Uses Of Open-Source Software
A component-based approach to software development has become a norm in information technology. To save time, developers integrate open-source software into their code. In some cases, this leaves many applications to become vulnerable to supply chain attacks.
- The Exploitation Of APIs With Insufficient Authentication
In some situations, developers create APIs without authentication. This results in API interfaces that are entirely open to the web. Moreover, any individual can utilize them to access an organization’s systems and data.
- The Leaking Of Data To The Internet
The latest development processes focus on efficiency and speed. As an outcome, many configuration objects find their way onto the web, with potentially dangerous consequences. This information can be a cloud service provider’s API keys and root password configured in Docker files, to name a few. And so, it’s vital to keep an eye on credential data that people can expose.
Cloud computing can be a more efficient way for a business to store data. And while advantageous, it also comes with security risks. Some of the most significant enterprise cloud security risks are loss of confidential data, insider threats, crypto-jacking, and lack of visibility, unsecured APIs, to name a few.
Knowing the most significant cloud security risks that can happen to your business can be a step to learning the right solutions to address them. Overall, protecting the company and customers’ data is crucial to maintaining the enterprise’s reputation and keeping up with regulatory standards regarding data.