Employees often sign on to cloud applications so they can be more effective at work without the knowledge or authorization of the IT team. Are you aware of the risks and threats in cloud computing?
This practice is more common in those companies that do not have a specialized IT team.
Small businesses tend to be quicker to adopt cloud technologies, but most do so without considering the security risks to their data when stored in the cloud.
These types of companies fully trust cloud service and app providers, without being completely aware of how their data is stored, protected, or used.
Those companies that sign up for certain cloud services without knowing the terms or without taking additional security measures, such as encryption or backup, expose themselves to an even greater risk of data loss, cyberattacks, and penalties for non-compliance. with the regulations.
This article explains the main risks and threats in cloud computing, the processes that can expose the company to dangers derived from this system, and the measures that can be taken to improve protection.
Meaning Of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing refers to the provision of computing services over the Internet, such as software applications, networks, storage, or servers.
Unlike what happens with traditional systems, in which the hosting of data, servers, and applications are local, through cloud computing cloud service providers (CSPs) host the data in their centers, which are located in different places. This data can be accessed via the Internet.
The advantages of cloud computing include:
- Savings in costs related to IT equipment
- A storage space that can be expanded when necessary
- A paid subscription model where you pay only for what you use
It is also possible to receive support from specialized IT professionals to manage IT operations, eliminating the need for a fully-fledged IT team to handle systems installation and maintenance.
At the same time, the risks and threats in cloud computing are increasing, since the data is being shared with a center that is also used by other companies.
There is no control and it is not possible to know how the data center is managed or how or where our data is stored.
Cloud computing is an extremely useful technology that cannot be rejected and from which it is impossible to escape.
However, it is necessary to be aware of the security dangers that the cloud entails and take the necessary measures to ensure greater protection of the data that resides in it.
5 Important Risks Generated By Cloud Computing Security
This section will expose some of the most important risks related to cloud computing that companies around the world are exposed to.
1. Loss Of Data
Data loss is an event that causes information to be temporarily unavailable or permanently lost or damaged.
These types of events occur when data is accidentally deleted, overwritten, or maliciously attacked by users or external hackers who deliberately wipe data.
Recommended measures to reduce the risks of data loss
- Check that you have signed service-level agreements with cloud service providers for data recovery, backup, and migration.
- Take additional measures to protect the most crucial data through disk backups or using a different cloud service. Deploy other types of cloud security and data loss prevention software.
2. Non-Compliance With Regulations
Small companies, in general, do not have a specialized legal advisory service, which makes it much more difficult to know what specific conditions must be met to comply with regulations, such as the GDPR.
They are forced to rely heavily on cloud service providers to do it for them.
Other regulations also require assurance that the security and privacy of certain customer information are being adequately protected.
If you are entrusting the storage of the data to a cloud service provider, you must verify that the CSP complies with the corresponding data security regulations.
Most regulations, such as HIPAA, hold CSPs and businesses responsible for non-compliance. In other cases, only companies may be exposed to the penalty for non-compliance.
Recommended measures to reduce the risks of non-compliance
- Only work with proven cloud service providers who are compliant with all relevant regulations, such as SOC 2 and ISO27001.
- Conduct risk assessments before migrating to cloud services and add an extra layer of security through Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs).
- Train and make your staff aware of the best practices in the use of SaaS applications and the need to always comply with regulations.
3. Denial Of Service
Public clouds are usually multi-user, that is, many companies share the space in the same cloud.
Attacks on the resources of any of the other users may also affect your operations.
Malicious users can attack the entire network and cause downtime affecting multiple clients, depending on the available bandwidth.
It is possible that all this annoys your customers and paralyzes the most common operations to a certain extent.
Recommended measures to reduce the risks of denial of service
- Check if the CPS is capable of expanding the bandwidth to withstand DDoS attacks. Also, ask if they have scrubbing centers that can clean and filter malicious traffic.
- Check with the cloud service provider to verify that the cache data can be recovered in the event of a DDoS attack to reduce downtime.
- Implement disaster recovery mechanisms and business continuity plans to get back to business as soon as possible.
4. Threatened Accounts And Data Leaks
One of the most common risks in cloud computing is the presence of hackers trying to get hold of account credentials to access applications and systems in the cloud.
Businesses are always at risk of account threat incidents whereby unauthorized third parties exploit user credentials to access data stored in public cloud services.
Recommended measures to reduce the risks of suffering a data breach
- Less than transparent IT practices and the use of devices outside the company, known as BYOD ( bring your device ), often lead to data breaches. Strengthen data security with anti-virus, encryption, user authentication, and data protection software on all personal devices that your employees use for work.
- Make employees aware of the need to always keep their managers and the IT team up to date in case they are using new applications that are not those proposed by the IT team.
- Check the terms and security features offered by CSPs and SaaS providers to ensure data confidentiality.
5. Internal Attacks
Insider threats include employee behavior, deliberate or accidental, that can lead to the exposure or sharing of sensitive data.
These include sharing files containing sensitive information (such as employee social security numbers) with a large group of unauthorized users and using inappropriate sharing controls.
Recommended measures to reduce the risks of suffering an insider attack
- Improve access controls through tools such as user authentication systems and multi-item authorization to ensure only the right people access data.
- It offers cloud-based security awareness and training courses and uses agreements with employees that prevent the sharing of sensitive data, whether deliberately or accidentally.
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Common Practices That Can Expose Your Company To Cloud-Related Risks
Company policies that are not implemented correctly can lead to increased exposure to risks and threats in cloud computing.
Reckless conduct on the part of employees can also leave the company exposed to the dangers mentioned above.
Some of the company’s vulnerabilities are:
Less Transparent IT Practices
One of the main causes of the increase in risks related to cloud computing is the tendency of employees and managers to ignore the recommendations of the IT team and download third-party applications.
The increasing number of SaaS applications that help perform random tasks such as converting JPEG files to PDF, recording, and editing video files, instant messaging, etc., leads to the registration and use by employees of these types of programs without taking the necessary precautions.
Often, sensitive files are uploaded to unknown cloud servers for the sole purpose of converting them into other file types.
Although most of the time these types of measures go unnoticed, the possibility of just one of those files with confidential company information being disclosed and falling into the hands of the competition can permanently damage the reputation of this company.
Bring Your Device (BYOD)
Currently, allowing staff to bring their own devices to work is a growing trend called BYOD ( Bring your device ). Although this practice saves IT equipment costs for the company, it increases security risks.
Employees can use SaaS applications on their own devices that are not authorized by the company.
They may also be using personal and business cloud storage applications at the same time, increasing the risk of sharing sensitive data in personal spaces.
BYOD policies make it difficult to track employees’ use of company data on their devices. Theft, loss, or misuse of these devices can lead to a corporate data breach.
Absence Of Service Level Agreements With Cloud Providers
Have you signed an agreement with a service provider without reading or understanding the terms or signing up for a legal agreement?
Are you aware of any data portability clauses, disaster recovery expectations, availability of activity periods, and dispute mediation processes offered by the provider?
We are not surprised that many companies sign up with cloud service providers without asking for a solid service level agreement (SLA).
SLAs should not contain incomprehensible legal language; it looks for the conditions that guarantee a specific level of performance by the CSP.
Knowledge of the scope of security features offered by the provider, i.e. encryption and data loss prevention, along with business and technical features (such as activity periods, resilience, etc.) They help ensure that data is protected in the cloud.
Workers are often very careful when it comes to protecting their physical paper files and memory devices, but tend to be lax with data security controls in the cloud.
The reason is probably the lack of visibility of the spaces and how the data is stored.
Employees often share passwords for cloud accounts, which increases the risk of data breaches or loss.
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Recommended Actions: Measures That Your Company Must Take To Face The Risks And Threats In Cloud Computing
Protecting data stored in a public cloud is a responsibility shared by both you and the service provider.
Cloud service providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Box, among others, have taken steps to improve their security prowess with features like encryption at rest, data loss prevention, and backups.
To avoid taking unnecessary risks when it comes to cloud computing, it is necessary to complement the security measures of the CSP with the additional tools mentioned below, as well as to educate employees regarding security best practices.
Additional security measures that your company should adopt:
1. Multi-Element Authentication
Multi-element authentication is a method of identity verification that allows access to a portal or application only after two or more pieces of evidence have been successfully submitted.
An example of this method is authentication using a password and a one-time authentication (OTP) key.
2. Data Loss Prevention
Data loss prevention is a mechanism that is designed to ensure that critical and confidential information is never sent outside of corporate networks.
It helps give the network administrator full control of the data that end users can transfer.
The first line of defense of any system is encryption. The information is hidden or encrypted through complex algorithms.
To decrypt these files it is necessary to have a confidential encryption key. Encryption helps prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
Encryption of data at rest is a must, while encryption of data in transit is highly recommended.
4. Data Backup
Data backup is the process by which data is duplicated to allow it to be recovered in the event of data loss.
It helps ensure that data is not lost due to natural disasters or any other incident.
A firewall is a network security tool that monitors incoming and outgoing traffic to detect anomalies.
It is also the tool in charge of blocking a certain type of traffic that has been established through a set of rules.
Cloud-based virtual firewalls help filter network traffic to and from the Internet to protect the data center.
6. Security Assessments
It is possible to ask the CSP to provide us with the results of the cloud security assessments that have been carried out or to look for third-party services that audit cloud operations.
Cloud security assessments contribute to the testing, validation, and improvement of security features in the cloud.