We have read that the cloud has emerged as one of the safest and most secure technologies. Enterprises are swiftly shifting to the cloud. The shift to the cloud is set to be revolutionizing the digital space and the information technology landscape.
As per a report by Gartner, more than half of enterprises in the key market segments will shift to the cloud by 2025. ((Gartner))
According to Michael Warrilow, the research vice president at Gartner, he feels that the shift to the cloud has only accelerated over the past two years due to COVID-19 pandemic, as organizations responded to a new business and social dynamic.
This transformation and shift to the cloud are indeed humongous. But we do realise all of this rise in the cloud can be attributed to the numerous benefits cloud computing offers.
The most popular, benefits of cloud computing are :
- Expandable storage.
- Cost Savings
- Loss Prevention
- Disaster Recovery
- Quality control
- Competitive Edge
We have discussed the benefits of cloud computing, in many other blogs. We will focus on what are the cloud vulnerabilities in the cloud computing and how should we counter them.
We will read about the concerns that can limit the adoption of cloud computing.
Among the numerous benefits offered, data security is one of the concerns that many enterprises have.
The complexity that surrounds the cloud infrastructure is directly affecting security.
Now we’ll see the top most, cloud vulnerabilities in the cloud computing and also try and understand ways that they can be mitigated in:
1. Misconfigured Cloud Storage:
Cloud storage is a smart and massive source of stolen data from cybercriminals. In spite of the high stakes, many enterprises and organisations continue to risk everything and commit the mistake of misconfiguration of cloud storage which has affected many companies.
Prevention of misconfigured Cloud Storage?
Prevention of misconfigured clouds is a must. As cloud computing, double-checking is an essential step.
The user should also use specialised tools to inspect cloud storage security settings. These cloud security softwares are potent enough to aid in checking the status of security configurations regularly and in identifying potential issues that can escalate into bigger issues that are more serious.
2. Data Breaches:
Data breaches are often as damaging as they are costly. We have had many instances of data breaches where a company or an organisation has had to pay heavily due to loss of data, of their clients etc. One such instance is that of Sony pictures. ((BBC NEWS)) The consequences can be listed as follows:
- The brand starts getting viewed in a negative light, as they lose confidence from partners, clients etc.
- This also causes the loss of vital data, which can be referred to as intellectual property.
- Legal actions can also be taken against any such organisation or enterprise.
Prevention against Data Breaches:
- Since the repercussions are many it becomes absolutely essential to find preventive measures against any kind of data breach.
- There should be routine security audits carried out in an organisation.
- There should always be secure and encrypted servers.
- An incident response plan should be devised.
3. Unauthorised Access:
Any tech-savvy organisation or individual can gain access to the cloud storage data just as easily as the inside workers, eg: Sony Pictures was supposedly hacked by GOP.
We know that all cloud-based installations are accessible from the public internet, unlike the organisation’s on-premises infrastructure. The former installations are accessible from the public internet and outside the network perimeter as well. This system is definitely more beneficial to employees as well as consumers in terms of accessibility.
In the same manner, it is also easy for hackers to access the information by gaining unauthorised access to a user’s cloud-based resources. Any kind of inappropriate security settings or stolen credentials might allow a hacker, with malicious intent to gain direct access, which can go undetected in any organisation.
Prevention of Unauthorised Access:
- Always try and use a different and comparatively more difficult password.
- Employ two-factor authentication.
- Make it a habit to monitor user activity.
- Employ endpoint security.
4. Account Hijacking:
Accounts of people in senior and important positions can also be hacked, for eg: Barack Obama.
Account hijacking is also often known by the name of session riding. It occurs when users’ account credentials are stolen from their computer’s device. There are multiple ways an account can be hijacked.
A few of the most common methods are following:
- Buffer overflow Attacks.
- Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks.
Prevention against Hijacking:
It is essential to have a prevention system set against, hijacking. That ensures there are no chances in the future for, a system to fall prey to the hijacking system.
The organisation should consult a threat detection specialist to prevent account takeovers. They can choose to examine a network for any kind of possible loopholes and further devise security measures, to keep the data safer from all kinds of techniques.
Another very important preventive measure is that the employees who are using cloud services should make sure that are aware enough of the cloud computing security issues so that they are capable of recognising account takeover attempts.
5. Malicious Insiders:
Malicious insiders are people, who have insider access, and knowledge of the inner working of any enterprise or organisation. These people are those who utilize insider information to defame a workplace etc.
These individuals are the ones who are present in an organisation as insiders, but they are able to access the cloud computing vulnerabilities. They could be anyone among the following:
- Employees can be one of the closest weak links.
- Contractors, work for a short-term period and can have flimsy intentions.
- Business shareholders or partners in any venture etc.
Prevention from malicious insiders:
- It is unfortunate, that insider threats are more common than external threats to the security of a place.
- But there happens to be a silver lining in all of this that is, these insider attacks can be managed with a proactive approach.
- This proactive behaviour can be as simple as restricting access to any kind of serious and critical data.
- The users should only be given the needed information, they should be given the information that is needed in their work profile.
- Regular security checks should be performed so that the chances of any kind of unnecessary access can be suspended if the need ceases.
- Audits should always be conducted, some businesses conduct quarterly audits, whereas some conduct them monthly. All in all, audits should be conducted frequently so that any kind of threat can be detected, miscellaneous kind of activities can also be detected, and all unnecessary accesses can be suspended, there and then.
In conclusion, all these cloud vulnerabilities are just the tip of the iceberg, there are multiple others as well. But the upside of all of this is that there is a way to detect all the threats. There is a space for the correction of these errors.
Businesses need to get ahead of these and other similar errors and deal with all of these smartly. Not only is an organisation’s reputation at stake but clients’ as well. Heavy debts are to be paid by the companies if such a data n security breach occurs. Shifting to the cloud definitely is a smart choice and also is slowly becoming a need, but having said that it is also essential to understand that anything isn’t just as foolproof, there happens to be flaws.