Cloud computing is the next big thing for businesses today. Not only does it offer flexible working setups, but it also saves companies a lot of money. And when it comes to security, hosting your data in the cloud helps protect it from cyberattacks such as malware and phishing. Even during disasters, sensitive information will stay safe, and organizations can quickly resume their operations.
However, despite the cloud’s numerous advantages, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any risks attached to it. For instance, cybercriminals are devising new ways to infiltrate your data in the cloud. Companies will also have to comply with a few industry regulations that some cloud service providers’ (CSPs) service level agreements (SLAs) may not be able to adhere to.
Let’s take a look at some of the security risks of the cloud:
#1. Data loss and theft
Companies use online file-sharing services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft Azure to store their sensitive files. In this setup, the data is typically taken outside of the company’s IT infrastructure, hence the data’s privacy settings are beyond the company’s control. Since most cloud services encourage real-time data backup, confidential information can end up being viewed by unauthorized personnel.
To mitigate the chances of data theft, ensure that your cloud storage provider offers data encryption at rest and in transit. This way, your files cannot be accessed easily, and if a cybercriminal does get a hold of your data, it will only appear as gibberish on their end, thus protecting the integrity of your files.
#2. Lack of control over end-user actions
Insider threat is one of the most common security risks companies have to be wary about today. In fact, according to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 34% of all breaches in 2018 were caused by insiders.
When you are unaware of what your employees are doing with your cloud services, and if you have given them excessive access permissions to your files, you are putting your data at risk. For instance, a disgruntled employee who’s about to resign from your company could download all your sensitive company information, save them to a personal storage system, and sell them to one of your competitors.
Prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive cloud applications and files with access management technology solutions such as Azure Information Protection (AIP) and Microsoft Intune. The former classifies data based on sensitivity so administrators can easily control visibility and permissions. The latter, on the other hand, lets you manage mobile devices being used to access corporate applications. These solutions let you see what your employees are doing with the cloud, and mitigate the chances of insider attacks.
Due to the high volume of data stored in the cloud, many cybercriminals target businesses using cloud service. An increasingly common cyberthreat is distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), wherein a hacker enlists thousands of computers to target an internet-accessible system and flood it with connection requests. When the traffic becomes too much to handle, the system will crash and be taken down.
Recently, ransomware attacks have been growing as well. These attacks encrypt cloud files and demand money from the victim to have them unlocked. This can cause a long period of downtime in your company and can be very costly to recover from.
To prevent cyberattacks, follow these handy tips:
- Educate your employees on cybersecurity practices, like refraining from opening suspicious links, attachments, and programs.
- Install, use, and regularly update antivirus and anti-malware software on every office computer.
- Use a firewall on your internet connection.
- Make regular backups of your files in external storage systems like flash drives and external hard drives.
#4. Diminished customer trust
If your business suffers a cloud data breach, it will inevitably result in a loss of trust from your customers. After all, why would they entrust you with their data if you can’t keep it safe from cybercriminals?
A good example for this would be the 2019 Capital One Bank hack. The suspect, Paige Thompson, allegedly created a program to scan cloud customers for a specific web application firewall misconfiguration. Once the tool found its target, Thompson allegedly exploited it to extract privileged account credentials for victim databases and other web applications.
According to the US Department of Justice, another hacker was able to access the private data of more than 100 million Capital One customers. Stolen data included social security numbers, credit card applications, home addresses, credit scores, credit limits, and balances. This led to damaged company reputation and lawsuits.
The moral here is to own up to your faults before they become bigger issues. For average consumers, being notified of data breaches that involve them is essential in helping them regain control of their information. For instance, an individual can change their passwords or transfer funds from old accounts to new ones before any incidents happen.
#5. Legal/Compliance issues
There are a number of industry standards and government regulations on data privacy, reporting, and security, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). These regulations protect sensitive cloud data, and failing to comply can result in hefty regulatory fines, data loss, damaged brand reputation, and worst of all, complete shutdown of your business.
To lessen the chances of this happening, thoroughly screen your cloud providers to ensure they can meet your compliance requirements.You can also consider the help of cloud services brokerages (CSBs) to find your best fit. CSBs are experts at designing, deploying, and managing cloud solutions capable of meeting any government compliance mandate.
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