13 Oct Cloud-based Security Threats: A Primer
Cloud security is one of the most hotly debated and widely discussed topics in business circles. Today, most businesses have seen a rapid shift from regular, workstation bound software services to the cloud, making them more vulnerable to cyber threats. Reasons businesses migrate to cloud systems, such as AWS and Azure, include anywhere access, ease of use, flexibility, reduced costs, increased collaboration, achieving a competitive edge and more. Clouds offer a simple, ubiquitous and device-independent business systems and data access that’s simply alluring While there’s no denying the fact that the cloud industry is growing exponentially, there are several critical aspects to be aware of in order to keep cloud-based security threats at bay.
This silver lining comes with a cloud (pun intended), for cloud security is a complicated matter. In many ways, the cloud is more secure than legacy data storage and access methods. However, the inherent distributed structure of the cloud makes it vulnerable to a wide range of cyber threats. And for any business, it is important to be aware of these threats, so steps can be taken to protect against them by implementing proper cloud-based security measures.
We are noting below some of the common cloud security threats that plague cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure. We’re also going to take a look at the remedies that can be applied to overcome these threats.
Cloud-Based Security Threats
When discussing cloud computing, it’s a common trend to think that the cloud is inherently insecure. This, however, is a misconception; cloud systems incorporate a wide range of security measures to ensure data privacy and protection.
The truth of the matter is that with cloud services, the very nature of certain threats changes. This results in the mitigation of certain risks, at the same time accentuating others. The following sections discuss some of the common cyber threats that cloud computing systems may be at risk of.
1. Data Breach and Loss
This is the most common type of threat that cloud systems can face. A data breach (or data leakage) is a situation when an unauthorised entity gains access to confidential data. In data breach incidents, they sell data in the black market for hefty sums.
Data breaches in cloud systems are usually the result of a lapse in security measures. Hackers can exploit any systemic or human vulnerability, to gain unauthorised access to cloud systems.
Data loss can be the direct consequence of a breach, or an independent incident. It means that the data stored in the cloud is irreversibly lost or altered. This is one of the hardest-to-handle cloud security risks.
Both data breaches and data loss usually result from a lack of proper system upkeep and maintenance. Regular updates coupled with constant monitoring and consistent backups can allow cloud systems to recover from these hazards.
Another method of protecting cloud data stores is the distribution of the data across multiple locations. This ensures that even if you notice a breach in one of the data stores, you can secure others against subsequent attacks.
2. Visibility Loss
Consider this: your business data is distributed across the cloud, and employees are accessing the data from multiple locations. This naturally leads to a massive diversity in the number of devices, locations, and departments from which the cloud is accessed.
Such complexity can often be hard to track, leading to a loss of effective visibility regarding who is accessing your systems and when. Unless you have the right monitoring services in place, you won’t be able to ensure systematic access to your cloud infrastructure.
This increases the risk of data breaches. If you can’t keep track of who’s accessing your cloud and from where it’s natural, you’ll be at risk. A good way to protect against this threat is to set up automatic logging systems, which can track the who, when, and where of cloud access.
This is a relatively new form of a cyber-attack, yet one that’s gaining rapid prominence the world over. In this form of attack, the perpetrators access your cloud infrastructure and use it to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. This effectively means that the criminals are piggybacking on your cloud resources to achieve their own goals.
Cryptojacking is an important threat because it’s tough to detect. Unlike data breaches or DDoS attacks, cryptojacking doesn’t result in a stoppage of services. It only reflects in the form of reduced performance of your systems, and thus is often waived off as the result of slow internet connections or poor updates.
The best way to fight against cryptojacking is to ensure constant statistical performance monitoring. Any anomaly detected should be remedied, and fast, no matter how seemingly insignificant.
4. 2PI Misconfiguration
The API, or Application User Interface, is the basic means of operating within the cloud infrastructure. APIs enable the cloud to be easily accessed and used by both internal as well as external users.
However, misconfiguration in APIs can often result in severe security flaws. These can lead to unauthorised access to user data resulting in significant breaches. So how can a company protect against this attack?
One of the best methods of safeguarding against API flaws is using multi-factor authentication schemes. This, coupled with regular security audits and SSL encryption, can ensure the continued protection of cloud infrastructure.
Advancements in cloud computing technology have certainly made users’ lives more convenient. However, convenience is the enemy of security, and opens the doors to a wide range of attacks. Hence, cloud security professionals and businesses alike need to adopt regular system analyses to ensure security practices.
Penetration testing of cloud systems is one of the best methods to ensure that your infrastructure always remains protected. By means of penetration testing, businesses can assess their cloud security from attackers’ perspective, thereby ensuring maximum and seamless protection.