Whether or not you’re operating in the cloud computing sector, security is a concern for all businesses and website owners. You will face risks such as denial of service, malware, SQL injection, data breaches, and data loss. All these can significantly impact the reputation and bottom line of your business. Members of Times International have listed several ways your cloud can come under threat.

So why is cloud security so important nowadays? Simple.

In the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution, data and knowledge have become one of the most valuable intangible assets. The mass adoption of cloud technology combined with an ever-increasing volume and sophistication of cyber threats is what drives the need for data protection. Reflecting on the security risks of adopting cloud technology, failure to mitigate them can come with significant implications.

When you move to the cloud you introduce a new set of risks and change the nature of others. That doesn’t mean cloud computing is not secure. In fact, many cloud providers introduce access to highly sophisticated security tools and resources you couldn’t otherwise access. But there are still tangible risks at play.

So, let’s take a look at five unique security risks of cloud computing.

1. Threats from Inside

This one you would expect the least, but it can happen. Your trusted employees, contractors, and business partners can be some of your biggest security risks. These insider threats don’t need to have malicious intent to cause damage to your business. In fact, the majority of insider incidents stem from a lack of training or negligence.

We should also consider contractual partnerships. You will include restrictions on how any shared data is used, how it is stored, and who is authorized to access it. Your employees unwittingly moving restricted data into a cloud service without authorization could create a breach of contract which could lead to legal action.

While you currently face this issue, moving to the cloud changes the risk. You hand control of your data to your cloud service provider and introduce a new layer of insider threat from the provider’s employees.

2. Lack of secure API (Application User Interface)

When operating systems in cloud infrastructure, you might use an Application User Interface (API) to implement control. Any API built into your web or mobile applications can offer access internally by staff or externally by consumers.
It is external-facing APIs that can introduce a cloud security risk. Any insecure external API is a gateway offering unauthorized access by cybercriminals looking to steal data and manipulate services.
The most prominent example of an insecure external API is the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica Scandal. Facebook’s insecure external API gifted Cambridge Analytica deep access to Facebook user data.

3. Loss of Online Visibility

Most companies will access a range of cloud services through multiple devices, departments, and geographies. This kind of complexity in a cloud computing setup – without the appropriate tools in place can cause you to lose visibility of access to your infrastructure.

Without the correct processes in place, you can lose sight of who is using your cloud services. Including what data they are accessing, uploading and downloading.
If you can’t see it, you can’t protect it. Increasing the risk of data breach and data loss.

4. Misconfiguration of Cloud Services

With the increased range and complexity of services, this is a growing issue. Misconfiguration of cloud services can cause data to be publicly exposed, manipulated, or even deleted.
Common causes include keeping default security and access management settings for highly sensitive data. Others include mismatched access management giving unauthorized individuals access, and mangled data access where confidential data is left open without the need for authorization.

5. Lack of Cloud Security Strategy and Architecture

This a cloud security risk that you can easily avoid, but many don’t. In their haste to migrate systems and data to the cloud, many organizations become operational long before the security systems and strategies are in place to protect their infrastructure.
This could lead to

Providing Security Measures for your Cloud

There are several measures any independent organization or business can practice. Here we’d like to list 3 options.

1. VPN

A VPN provides an authenticated, encrypted connection that hides information about the sites you are visiting from attackers. This protected connection makes it harder to intercept your connections, steal or read your data, or insert attacks into the traffic as it flows from your system to other sites. A VPN allows businesses to maintain and protect their private cloud resources. Nearly three-quarters of employee mobile devices used for work purposes are not connected to company IT support.

2. Trusted Provider

The foundation of cloud security is built on selecting a trusted service provider. You want to partner with a cloud provider who delivers the best in-built security protocols and conforms to the highest levels of industry best practice. A service provider who extends a marketplace of partners and solutions to you in order to further enhance the security of your deployment.
The mark of a trusted provider is reflected in the range of security compliance and certifications they hold. Something any good provider will make publicly available. For example, all leading providers like Amazon Web Services, Alibaba Cloud, Google Cloud, and Azure offer transparent access where you can confirm their security compliance and certifications.

3. Strong Password Security Policy

A strong password security policy is best practice regardless of the service you are accessing. Implementing the strongest policy possible is an important element in preventing unauthorized access.
As a minimum requirement, all passwords should require one upper-case letter, one lower-case letter, one number, one symbol, and a minimum of 14 characters. Enforce that users update their password every 90 days and set it so the system remembers the last 24 passwords.
A password policy like this will stop users from creating simple passwords, across multiple devices, and defend against most brute force attacks.
As an additional layer of security best practice and protection, you should also implement multi-factor authentication. Requiring the user to add two or more pieces of evidence to authenticate their identity.

Concluding Remarks

It’s important to remember that cloud computing is no less secure than deploying your services on-premises. Moving to the cloud, you need to be ready to implement a comprehensive cloud security strategy from day one. This starts with identifying the right cloud service provider(s) and then implementing a strategy combining the right tools, processes, policies and best practices.
It is fundamental you understand your shared responsibility and focus on compliance.
In cloud security, your staff — or your cloud provider’s — are among the most critical and often overlooked aspects of defense against cybercriminals.