29 Oct 2018
Top 5 Security Concerns in Cloud Computing
Miriam Subiksha
#Business | 5 Min Read

Cloud Computing is the go-to solution for most businesses today. It makes work processes efficient, scalable and economical. It is net-centric, has a flexible architecture and is easily accessible.

However, cloud computing can still make businesses vulnerable. In a survey by Cloud Security Alliance, 73 percent said that data security was the primary concern inhibiting cloud adoption.  

As companies begin to move data to the cloud, they have to implement policies and procedures that will enable their employees to take advantage of cloud computing without affecting the security of corporate data.

It is important to identify the top security issues and find remedial measures. In our earlier blog, we explored why businesses need Cloud-Native Architecture. In this blog, we explore the top security concerns for cloud computing.

Data Breach

Data Breaches result from an attack or employee negligence and error. This is a primary cause for concern in cloud platforms. Vulnerabilities in the application or ineffective security practices can also cause data breaches. Employees may log into cloud systems from their phones or personal laptops thus exposing the system to targeted attacks.

CSA defines data breach as involving any kind of information that was not intended for public release, including personal health information, financial information, personally identifiable information, trade secrets, and intellectual property.

A study by the Ponemon Institute says that the chances of a data breach occurring were three times higher for businesses using the cloud. Data Breach isn’t new, but cloud computing has a particular set of attributes that make it more vulnerable.

Account Hijacking

With the increase in adoption of cloud services, organizations have reported an increased occurrence of account hijacking. Such attacks involve using employee’s login information to access sensitive information. Attackers can also modify, insert false information and manipulate the data present in the cloud. They also use scripting bugs or reused passwords to steal credentials without being detected.

Account hijacking could have a detrimental effect at the enterprise level, undermining the firm’s integrity and reputation. This could also have legal implications in industries such as healthcare where patients’ personal medical records are compromised. A robust IAM (Identity Access Management) system can prevent unauthorized access and damage to the organization’s data assets.

Insecure APIs and Interfaces

Customers can tailor their cloud computing experience according to their needs by using Application Programming Interface or APIs.

These are used to extract, manage and interact with information on the cloud. However, the unique characteristics of API leave the door wide open for threats. Hence the security of APIs affects the security and availability of cloud services and platforms.

APIs facilitate communication between applications, herein lies the vulnerability. Firms need to focus on designing APIs with adequate authentication, other access control methods, and encryption technology.

The most recent example of an insecure API was at Salesforce, where an API bug in its Marketing Cloud service exposed customer data. This caused data to be written from one customer account to another.

Insider Threat

An Insider threat is the misuse of information through hostile intent, malware, and even accidents. Insider threats originate from employees or system administrators, who can access confidential information They can also access even more critical systems and eventually data.

When the relationship between the employer and system administrator turn sour, they may resort to leaking privileged information.

There can be several instances of insider threat such as a Salesperson who jumps ship or a rogue admin. In scenarios where the cloud service provider is responsible for security, the risk from insider threat is often greater.  

Insider threats can be circumvented through business partnerships, controlled access and prioritizing initiatives.

Malware Injections and APT (Advanced Persistent Threats)

Malware injections are scripts or code that is inserted into the cloud services and begin to mimic valid instances. When embedded into the cloud, they begin to change the normal execution of the code.

Once the malware injection and cloud systems begin to operate in sync attackers can affect the integrity and security of the data.  SQL injection attack and cross-site scripting attack are seen very often.

The advanced persistent threat is another form of attack where they infiltrate the IT infrastructure. APTs are able to avoid detection for extended periods of time. APTs sync with normal network traffic by moving laterally through data center networks.

Tips for improving Security on the Cloud

Here are a few simple steps that you can take to utilize the power of the cloud without succumbing to the risks.

  1. Authentication protocols: Implement two factor or multi-factor authentication for access to all cloud applications.
  2. User Access Management: Ensure proper levels of authorization. Each employee should only be able to access data that is required to perform his job.
  3. Monitor user activity: Irregularities in user activity can be detected if there is real-time monitoring. This can help you detect a breach early and implement remedial measures.
  4. Ensure your offboarding process is thorough: Use a systematized deprovisioning system to stop access to the firm’s systems, data and customer information.
  5. Data backup and recovery: A thorough plan can enable data retrieval with as little fuss as possible.

Drive Momentum with Cloud Computing without the Security Risks

Cloud is revolutionizing the way businesses work. It has opened new possibilities in access, storage and flexibility. ‘

It has also left systems wide open for a plethora of security threats. Analyzing the security risks that exist is the first step in building a comprehensive cloud computing strategy that can fuel business growth.

Are you ready to jump into the cloud? Read our blog on launching an enterprise-ready product on the cloud in a day.