Most organisations have now adapted to cloud computing especially during this era where more and more businesses are embracing remote work. Unlike the use of traditional IT infrastructure, cloud services offer scalability, allowing organisations to easily scale up or down depending on user requirements. Additionally, cloud services are also exceptionally flexible. With any internet-enabled devices such as laptops and smartphones, users can easily share essential documents for faster business decision-making. Although moving to the cloud has its benefits, it also comes with new security risks.
To protect your business against cloud security threats, understanding each of the risks and how you can mitigate them is necessary.
List of 5 Common Cloud Security Issues and Threats
Cloud misconfiguration is the leading cause of data breaches. According to Trend Micro, 65 to 70% of the total cloud security challenges arise from misconfigurations, which often occur as a result of the need to make the cloud easily accessible or shareable with other users.
One common reason for cloud misconfiguration is the unfamiliarity to the infrastructure itself. Unfortunately, most business owners lack the technical know-how surrounding the cloud-based infrastructure. This also makes the organisation’s cloud-based resources exposed to possible attacks. Another reason is that they do not have complete visibility and control over the infrastructure, thus, the configuration and deployment rely solely on the security controls provided by their cloud service provider (CSP).
2. Insecure Interfaces/APIs
Software user interfaces and application programming interfaces (APIs) are usually responsible for the monitoring and management of cloud services. These interfaces are well-documented so that users can use them easily whenever they need to.
However, making these documents readily available also increases security risks. Often, they leave the systems more vulnerable to cyberattacks. If not properly secured, the documentation designed for the users can also be used by cybercriminals to exploit ways of accessing critical data from an organisation’s cloud infrastructure.
3. Denial-of-Service Attacks
A Denial-of-Service attack refers to a cyberattack that is meant to shut down a machine or network, making it unavailable to its intended users. It drowns the system with overwhelming requests and bandwidth more than it can handle, keeping the businesses from operating and customers from entering the system.
4. Account Hijacking
Switching on cloud infrastructure has brought a list of benefits to many businesses. However, this growing reliance on the cloud has also contributed to an increasing number of account hijacking cases. Hijacking accounts involve the use of industry-known trucks such as password cracking and phishing emails to guess login credentials and gain access to sensitive information.
Account hijacking poses serious threats to cloud security. It can result in data being falsified or leaked to other parties, damaging the brand’s reputation and its relationships with their customers. Additionally, legal implications could also occur once a customer decided to sue the company for mishandling their data.
Critical Features of Cloud Security Controls
Switching from on-premise systems to cloud solutions is not an easy task. Although cloud migration can be made faster, doing so often leads to the infrastructure being compromised, resulting in devastating data breaches. One reason for this is that many fall prey to a common misconception that default cybersecurity is enough to protect cloud environments against possible attacks.
The best thing organisations can do is to master policy settings and controls within the cloud. Deploying the right tools will surely give your company an extra layer of protection against common cloud security threats.
To give you a better idea, here’s a list of 5 critical features of cloud security controls.
1. Centralized visibility of the cloud infrastructure
Having centralised visibility of the cloud infrastructure including the security policies, configuration settings and user activity can help reduce the risk of your security team overlooking a possible threat.
To prevent or minimise these kinds of risks, the use of cloud workload protection (CWP) tools can be of great help. These tools can be integrated tightly into cloud management and security systems. With these security solutions in place, the security teams will be able to monitor and assess the status of current services and the overall security posture of the cloud environment. Automated configuration monitoring, on the other hand, will enable the IT team to quickly respond to possible misconfigurations.
Effective workload protection includes:
- Traffic analysis
- Inspection of data stored in the cloud for sensitive or malicious content
- Regular configuration monitoring and assessments
- Recommendations for how to improve vulnerable areas of the cloud environment
- Alerts for configuration issues
- Identification of compliance issues due to misconfiguration
2. Native integration into cloud management and security systems
Since cloud-computing is based on a shared responsibility model, visibility into your security posture across the cloud requires close coordination between your CWP solution and the underlying cloud environment. This implies API-level integration into tools such as Amazon Inspector and VPC Flow logs and GuardDuty for AWS; Stack Event and Flow Drivers for Google Cloud Platform; and Security Center for Microsoft Azure.
3. Web application layer protections combined with machine learning and AI
Before migrating to the cloud, understanding who is responsible for a specific aspect of the cloud environment is necessary. For starters, most cloud providers often take responsibility for the infrastructure only. Your company, on the other hand, will be responsible for the security of applications deployed in the cloud and the data that will be stored there.
Apart from this, you will also need to shore up security for web applications with web application firewalls. Note that threat detection for applications on-premises is different for apps run in the cloud. Here, threat detection must take place not on the traffic but within the application content.
Since this will require a granular approach which you can’t easily do manually, leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI) can be of great help. Machine learning, for instance, can help detect the kind of user and/or behavior that signals an issue. Also, it can implement protection measures faster than the human-powered approach.
4. Security automation
Unfortunately, the cybersecurity skills in the 21st century aren’t enough to cover all the needs of enterprises worldwide. Thus, leaving more and more businesses vulnerable to possible attack. To minimise the risks, security architects are encouraged to help organisations by automating security functions whenever possible.
5. Threat intelligence feeds
Keep in mind that the more complex your cloud environment becomes, the more exposed you are to vulnerabilities. To protect your organisation, choose a comprehensive solution that can provide maximum cloud security, one that can place all your company’s cloud services under one umbrella. An excellent solution should also have dynamic threat intelligence feeds with the deep intelligence of both global and local security events.
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