Cloud Security Issues

Recent studies have shown that 76 percent of businesses globally are currently adopting at least a pair of cloud service providers. In fact, 35 percent of enterprises have moved over 50 percent of their IT infrastructures to the cloud, with 29 percent expecting to scale this figure to 75 percent in the next twelve months. However, with virtually all aspects of our personal and professional lives moving online, cloud security issues continue to soar at an unprecedented rate. Malicious actors are actively highlighting many cloud vulnerabilities, resulting in many IT experts across the globe taking notice. Depending on the kind of cloud deployment model the organization adopts, whether Software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) models, organizations may face or requires to consider a couple of factors before migrating their workload. Table 1 highlights some of the cloud security issues organizations may face when shifting to the cloud depending on their choice of cloud strategy.

Table 1. cloud security issues associated with SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS cloud models

Software as a Service (SaaS)Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Lack of visibility into what information is hosted within the cloud.Poor visibility into what information is within the cloud applications.Illogical security controls traversing conventional and virtualized private cloud systems.
Ineffectual to monitor information while on transit to and fro cloud applications.Unable to monitor cloud workload resources for vulnerabilities.Growing sophistication of this infrastructure requires more time and effort to implement and maintain.
Shortage of experts to manage and maintain cloud applications.Shortage of experts to offer security to the cloud infrastructure.Shortage of experts with prerequisite skills like virtual compute, storage and network, required to secure a software-defined database.
Maintaining regulatory compliance is a complex task.Wide spread of cyber-attacks between cloud workloads

Studies show that businesses face almost the same cloud security issues such as data leakages, system vulnerabilities, endpoint user errors, phishing scams, unwanted access, misconfiguration, and insecure APIs and interfaces among others. So what are the most top cloud security issues enterprises face?

#1: inadequate identity, credential, entry, and key management

With more and more businesses shifting their workloads to the cloud and many companies adopting the work-from-home model, IT teams are now required to identify their employees’ identities. Also, securing information through encryption is introducing a key management headache caused by the huge number of keys available.

#2: insecure APIs and computer interfaces

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are essentially designed for the customization of the cloud experience by personalizing cloud features. Whereas APIs are valuable tools for web designers and developers, poorly designed APIs and related software potentially expose the computer to bad actors. Besides, poorly designed interfaces are highly exploitable and facilitate data breaches. Luckily, an appropriate tracking of activities through access management helps identify insecure APIs and interfaces for developers to rectify.

#3: cloud misconfiguration 

As more and more businesses set up remote IT infrastructures, cases of misconfigured cloud systems are soaring at an alarming rate. Cloud-powered frameworks should be extensively protected on the backend to minimize their vulnerable points against possible attacks. A survey by Fugue cites the deficiency in policy awareness as a major cause of poor mitigation of cloud threats. Also, IT teams are lacking proper monitoring and control of all APIs that interact with cloud services. These weaknesses are serving as open doors for threat actors to infiltrate data systems and steal critical information.

#4 BYOD policies 

 Some organizations have implemented bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies to enable the flexibility, convenience, and efficiency that remote working requires. While the BYOD model enables businesses to offload maintenance and hardware spending onto employees, it introduces many points of data breach to corporate IT systems. As personal life and work integrate through the use of the device, cloud systems have higher chances of being exposed to stray threats from infected and/or unprotected devices. To solve the problem, on-site networks should be secured by a firewall, employer-provided mobile devices should be managed by IT experts, and WIFI routers should be protected. This would ensure that any possible surface that possesses security risk to the corporate IT infrastructure has the latest security patches and software updates.

#5: Social engineering 

Bad actors have improved their tactics to exploit any unattended gaps in the cloud architecture to steal valuable data or cause disruptions. Some of the latest social engineering techniques include phishing scams, brute force attacks, and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks.

  • Phishing: scammers are posing fraudulently as credible people or businesses to lure users into disclosing their critical information. Phishing scams are attractive techniques for acquiring access to cloud systems from workers and uniformed users. 
  • Brute force attacks: Typically, hackers acquire valuable data – credentials like login details – from account breaches, with the valuable data sold to the dark web. Multiple attempted sign-ins from different locations should send a red flag of possible brute force attack.
  • Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks: with haphazard infrastructure configuration, many businesses moving to cloud systems are becoming vulnerable to DDoS attacks. here, bad actors may gain access to their system using a pre-installed remote computer and disrupt cloud-based operations.

How should you safeguard data in the cloud?

To solve cloud security challenges, you’ll need to be attentive to some fundamental areas and take some measures like:

  • Use a virtual private network (VPN) to keep your data anonymous while in transit.
  • Encrypt your sensitive data to add an extra layer of protection before storing it in the cloud.
  • Choose a security app/service to monitor your identity
  • Activate multifactor authentication (MFA)
  • Secure BYOD and other smart home devices 

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