A Look at Cloud Security and Possible Threats

Cloud Security
A recent survey by Lieberman Software at the Microsoft Ignite 2016 revealed that 43 percent of IT experts find it hard to provide security for data in cloud storage. Storing files in the cloud is one of the revolutions that the internet has brought to the everyday business. This storage alternative is one that many entrepreneurs have considered. The scalability of cloud storage is one reason it is a suitable choice for some businesses. A company that has loads of data to deal with and demands that shift every day needs a storage space that can adjust. The advantage of remote access of data is another one that sells the cloud as a viable solution for keeping files. There is also the affordability that cloud storage offers most to companies.

Even with all the plus sides, some IT professionals still hesitate when it comes to keeping data in the cloud. Why? The difficulty of securing it. Storing your documents in the cloud does not mean that you get rid of the risks presented by traditional filing options. In fact, you acquire new challenges. Unlike a warehouse, you can’t just slap on a high-grade lock and post a guard outside. It is not as easy as getting a VPN. An organization has to be ready to invest in various security tools to protect data. Learning about the threats exposed when using the cloud for storage is helpful in creating lasting solutions.

Top Threats in Cloud Storage

Earlier in 2016, the Cloud Security Alliance released twelve threats that entities come across. Cloud clients can evaluate these risks accordingly and use the information to structure protection measures.

1. Data Breaches

The menace of a data breach is one that presents itself every day even when using conventional systems. However, cloud servers store copious files, and that means increased danger.

2. Hacked Interfaces and APIs

APIs and interfaces make it possible for IT professionals to communicate with cloud servers. Having a weak interface places an organization in a precarious position with the threat of hacking among others looming. Note that interfaces and APIs allow access from the internet, so the dangers are more.

3. Compromised Credentials and Authentication

Improper certificate management, weak passwords, and subpar authentication protocols can lead to considerable damage. A mistake such as failing to deactivate a temporary user account can result in unauthorized logins.

4. Account Hijacking

Cloud applications offer entry points for hackers who can use an organization’s account to modify data or manipulate transactions. One common cause of this is stolen account credentials. Sharing of credentials among multiple users also leaves your system vulnerable.

5. Exploited System Vulnerabilities

Programs have bugs that are easy to exploit, and this has always been a problem. The thing is that with cloud computing, sharing servers magnifies this issue. So many entities have their resources close to each other, which presents new attack points.

6. Malicious Insiders

Sometimes, threats come from the inside of an organization. The type of threat is hard to pinpoint in this instance because it will depend on the intentions of the actor. For example, a disgruntled employee can manipulate data to embarrass the company or steal it to make a profit. The best way to keep such menaces at bay is to have adequate control of the system and all accounts.

7. APT Parasites

Advanced persistent threats are considered parasitical attacks. The definition arises from the nature of APTs to get into systems, blend in with the regular traffic, and attack from the inside over time.

8. Inadequate Diligence

Failing to understand the different risks that come with cloud storage puts you in a position to make very common missteps.

9. DoS Attacks

The availability of large amounts of data in the cloud is one explanation for why DoS risks have become popular again. In such attack, systems become very slow or time out altogether.

10. Permanent Data Loss

Losing files permanently is not uncommon, especially when dealing with a hack. Natural disasters have also been known to cause irreparable damage.

11. Cloud Service Abuse

Services providers can be used to compromise the privacy of data through practices such as DDoS attacks and hosting of malicious content.

12. Shared Technology, Shared Danger

Cloud providers share resources to cater to different infrastructure needs. The tiered structure puts the entire system at risk when something happens even to one of the layers.

How to Protect Storage

Data security has different approaches depending on the type of threats you are dealing with. One way to ensure proper protection of cloud storage is to classify data. You should identify the sensitive data so that you can implement the right policies to protect it. Having categories of data allows you to gauge the level of security each one needs. For instance, you can have restricted, confidential and public data classes. The restricted documents should only be available to a select few with high-security clearance. Workers can access the confidential files while the public ones shouldn’t have controls. Note that encryption of data should be done before it is submitted for cloud storage.

Invest time in instituting strict policies regarding the access to different classes of data. Ensure that users get educated on how to protect sensitive information. Downloading client information on a personal laptop, for instance, should be prohibited and employees should always use VPNs. Preventing multiple users on one account provides a solution to account hijacking. Monitoring of accounts tells you when there has been a breach.

A company should also have a professional that checks the compliance of security protocols.

It has recently come to light that most companies don’t check the vulnerabilities of cloud systems before using them. Never assume that you can trust the technology being used to store your organization’s data. Take some time to understand the weaknesses that a particular system presents so that you can guard against them. The numerous plug-ins, programs, and dynamism, make business systems hard to secure; and consequently, a favorite target. Preventative measures can save your company a lot of resources when it comes to data protection.

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