For the past decade, cloud services have been touted as the best thing for businesses since sliced bread, and it’s easy to see why.
They provide incomparable scalability and flexibility in a cost-effective, easy-to-use, neatly tied up package. In a world that has survived a global pandemic and seen companies forced to embrace remote working, it is hard to imagine what would have happened if cloud services didn’t exist, and the unparalleled impact Covid would have had on businesses across industries, across the globe.
But just because cloud services are integral tools for companies to use, does not mean that they are infallible. Even when your data and servers are cloud-based, there are still cloud security threats that you need to be aware of.
9 Cloud Security Threats That You Need To Look Out For
- Data breaches:
Keeping business data under lock and key has never been more important for companies to operate in this modern world. A data breach can come in many forms – as a result of malware, ransomware, even a malicious employee – but the impact that it has on business is monumental. It can result in operations grinding to a halt, and can have both huge repercussions for both your bottom line, and your reputation.
While cloud security threats like data leaks and breaches themselves are exceptionally difficult to avoid, since they can come from so many different perpetrators, there are steps that you can take to significantly reduce their impact. Having backups off your data and a disaster recovery plan in place will ensure that even if a data breach does occur, your information will remain accessible and your operations can continue without interruption.
Denial of Service Attacks:
Another method that cybercriminals use to interrupt business operations are Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS, attacks. These cloud security threats involve multiple attackers using multiple machines to try to infiltrate your systems simultaneously. Because the attacks come from so many directions and are so frequent, your website and cloud services will become inundated by traffic, and likely become inaccessible.
Thankfully, the same solution that works for data breaches can also make cloud security threats like denial of service attacks ineffective. If your data is backed up and easily recoverable, even when your main cloud storage becomes inaccessible, you will have access to the information you need for operations to continue unaffected.
Zero Day Attacks:
Attackers are always on the lookout for new vulnerabilities that they can exploit, and as new software is constantly being developed, more cloud security threats and opportunities for attack present themselves every day. As soon as a software vulnerability is discovered by a hacker or attacker, they spread the information to their ‘colleagues’ and Zero Day attacks are the inevitable result.
Cybercriminals use these chinks in software armour to infiltrate businesses that use the programs and plant malware or ransomware that can be activated in the future. All this is done before businesses even realise there is a problem, and before developers can release a patch to the vulnerability.
So, how can you avoid Zero Day attacks? Ensuring that your software is kept up to date is the best defence. This will severely limit the opportunity that attackers have to infiltrate your systems, and the patches themselves often include scans for malware that may have been placed, helping you to eradicate these cloud security threats before attackers can activate it.
It’s a mistake that sounds too simple to have a serious impact on a business, but as the NSA discovered, a misconfigured setting on your cloud server can have extreme repercussions for your data security.
Regularly checking your cloud server configuration will help to avoid these cloud security threats, but not all businesses have someone at hand who would know what the cloud settings should be. This is where an IT company with experience in configuring and managing cloud servers can be a powerful asset.
- Identity & Access Management:
Every user that has access to your cloud storage poses an additional threat to its security. Making sure that the right people have access to the data that they need, and only the data they need, is essential in keeping your business secure.
This is where identity and access management comes in. Not only can you control user credentials, but you can quickly and easily add and remove access, for entire teams or individuals, as you see fit. You can also set up alerts to notify you when suspicious activity is detected, or when an unauthorised user tries to access your data, helping you to nip attempted attacks and cloud security threats in the bud.
Personal data in particular has been a sore subject over recent years. Its protection is essential, not only to save your reputation, but to avoid penalties and fines under regulations like the UK’s GDPR or South Africa’s POPI Act.
Complying with these laws often means making adjustments to the ways in which your data is stored to avoid. While cloud servers are a secure method of storage, you also need to ensure that your information is kept in data centres that meet local compliance regulations. Operating a business in South Africa, for example, means that data needs to be stored within a South African data centre in particular, rather than internationally. When working with teams around the world, this could even see your data being stored in multiple centres.
Sharing documents doesn’t only take place between teammates in a business. Often documents need to be shared with clients and customers, partnering companies and other stakeholders. However, making documents public or sharable to anyone with the link can introduce cloud security threats, particularly if confidential information is on display.
Educating your teams so that they know how best to share documents externally, encrypt sensitive data, restrict privileges, and limit access to only those who need it, is an essential practice for businesses to put in place. This can significantly reduce the cloud security threats of interception and unauthorised access to information.
- Human error:
Many companies don’t realise that using cloud services does not automatically mean that your data is backed up. If information is only stored on one cloud platform, there is a great potential for one of the most common cloud security threats – human error.
It happens all the time. A document is deleted in error, and the mistake is only realised months down the line. An entry into a spreadsheet is erased. A file is misplaced, and cannot be found. None of these occurrences take place on purpose, but the impact that they have can be severe, particularly when personal data is involved.
Once again, the solution boils down to keeping backups of your cloud data. This will ensure that when a file goes missing, or needs to be reverted to a previous state, it can quickly and easily be recovered.
- Malicious insiders:
It’s a rare occurrence, but one that can be detrimental to any business. Because employees are given access to all the resources they need to do their jobs, when a business relationship turns sour, malicious insiders have the opportunity to wreak havoc. The cloud security threats that unhappy employees pose are undeniable, as insider information can quickly become public knowledge, documents can be purposely corrupted, and any company’s reputation can be destroyed.
Keeping a close eye on identity and access management can help. Once an employee leaves the company, it’s important to make sure that their access is immediately revoked, and if you already have tight control over access management, this should be a simple process. Having rules set up that alert you to unauthorised access attempts can also help you to pinpoint malicious employees who are gearing up to leave and stop these cloud security threats before they start.
But a more holistic solution is to try and ensure that relationships with employees are positive, and that even when someone leaves the company, they do so on good terms. Company culture is a critical part of running any business. A poor company culture that is based on an environment of stress will breed unhappiness and the potential for resentment. A positive company culture will see employees thriving, boosting productivity and promoting healthy, happy working relationships.
Who better to keep your infrastructure secure in the cloud than Microsoft themselves?
Now that we’ve looked at some of the most common cloud security threats and solutions, you may feel slightly overwhelmed at the prospect of putting them in place. After all, securing your business against top cloud security threats is no quick and easy fix. But there are businesses out there that can help you put the right measures in place, and see you embracing cloud services while still maintaining and improving your data security. Solid Systems is an IT company in Johannesburg, Cape Town and London that has spent more than 18 years helping businesses to implement the right technologies, and prioritise security. Get in touch with us today to find the perfect IT solutions and IT services that will see your company stepping confidently into the future.