The cloud has offered unprecedented agility and flexibility to businesses. They can access and run data and applications from anywhere, anytime. But every technology has its downside and the cloud is no exception. Organizations need to be aware of the inherent risks involved in embracing the cloud. Only by doing so, they can build a secure environment for running their applications.
So, let’s discuss some of the key challenges that you might face as a cloud user.
1) Poor Access Management
Poor access management is one of the major threats companies may face when transitioning to the cloud. The mushrooming of cloud service providers has slashed the cost of cloud services and encouraged even the small businesses to move their data to the cloud, with little regard to the access control practices that the vendor has in place.
When availing a cloud service, you should take into account your staff and that of your vendor. Many people at your vendor’s location who support your service have access to your data and applications. Plus, many of your employees who have authorized access to your cloud can misuse sensitive information on account of malicious intent, malware or accident.
To ensure you don’t fall prey to such menace, have a distinct layout for access management on the cloud wherein you can decide the availability of information for different types of users.
2) Data Loss
If you think breaches are bad, things can go even worse if you lose your data irreversibly. Data losses are hard to predict and even harder to handle. These can happen on account of several reasons. Users may accidentally delete data that has no backup whatsoever. In a dynamic database, the information changed in some manner may not revert to the previous state. In other cases, the data may still be in the system but unavailable because of lack of login credentials. Sometimes, an unreliable storage medium also does the damage.
To prevent data losses, businesses should maintain frequent backups. There should be a distributed system in place to back up data in multiple systems and locations. A proper disaster recovery mechanism allows the operations to continue unabated when even a mishap strikes.
3) Insecure APIs
APIs or application programming interfaces are a primary tool of interaction within the cloud ecosystem. APIs can be accessed both internally (by cloud service providers) and externally (through mobile and web applications). When the configuration of these APIs isn’t up to the mark, they pose a severe threat to cloud data security. Some common issues with APIs include:
- Unrestricted access that doesn’t require credentials
- Lack of Access Monitoring
- Reusable Passwords and Tokens
- No encryption in URLs
To avoid such issues, there are a couple of measures you can undertake. Use multi-factor authentication to ensure all users on your cloud system are legit. Send requests through encrypted channels such as SSL or TLS only.
Also, consider performing penetration testing once access restrictions have been set. This will help you uncover vulnerable endpoints in your cloud system.
4) Data Breaches
A data breach is an incident where the data is accessed and extracted without authorization from the concerned party. This data can be sold in the black market or held for ransom. Such breaches are far more common in cloud systems than those managed in-house. This happens because, in the cloud, the information is accessible through multiple devices and accounts. Hackers analyzing a company’s data structure for weakness can exploit a vulnerability in its cloud and extract the data after gaining access to the system.
Breaches have become commonplace as the cloud is becoming ubiquitous. As per a recent study, the number of records exposed by data breaches reached 4.1 billion in the first half of 2019 alone. With more and more organizations adopting a remote working culture, this figure will only soar in the days to come.
To minimize the incidence of breaches, choose multi-factor authentication for all your cloud services. In addition, ensure encryption of your cloud data in transit as well as at rest.
Denial-of-Service (DoS) is a kind of attack where cyber criminals aim to make an online service or application unavailable to its intended users. A DoS attack overwhelms the servers of the application so that they can no longer respond to legitimate user requests. This can render a website/application useless for hours, even days, eventually leading to loss of revenue and brand reputation. An advanced form of DoS is Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) where the attack is orchestrated through multiple systems.
To avoid falling prey to DoS attacks, there are certain things you can do. Installing a premium intrusion detection system can help identify anomalous traffic, warning you of an intrusion beforehand. Advanced firewalls can be configured to reject bad traffic.
The Final Word
While the cloud business has catalyzed the growth of industry, it has brought in a whole new range of cloud data security issues. Embracing a proactive approach and taking some of the aforementioned measures-multi-factor authentication, data encryption, regular backups, disaster recovery plan, SSL and TLS channels for API requests, penetration testing, intrusion detection system and firewalls-can safeguard your business from reputational and monetary losses.