Security teams are increasingly employing the necessary measures and stepping up their roles in helping IT practitioners and those in the lines of business benefit from the cloud as safely as possible. They’ve become the trusted advisors on matters regarding cloud security. And as much as the cloud comes with the value of convenience, flexibility and scalability, the various cloud solutions equally comes with added risks to its users and businesses.
Those taking advantage of the cloud benefits should therefore have the requisite qualities for evaluating potential providers on the existent cloud security concerns. Assessment of where the security risks are coming from is also significant. There have been incidents in the past related to security and data breach due to which companies like Amazon and Google suffered a lot. Though technology is there to make our lives easier, one should also not forget cyber crime is also on the rise and we mus pay attention to cloud security concerns to avoid regretting in the future.
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To assist cloud users and business come up with information security pros, this article has compiled a list of the top 12 cloud security concerns.
Table of Contents
Cloud Service Abuse
The growth of cloud computing services has brought about the possibility all sorts of users from individual customers to multinational corporations to host big data with ease. However, the vast amounts of storage capacity has allowed unauthorized users and hackers to effortlessly inject and spread illegal applications and software, malware and other intellectual properties.
The security risks arising out of cloud service abuse include sharing of pirated books, music, videos, customer accounts or any other sensitive data which can result in serious legal consequences and business losses. Setting hostage guidelines and monitoring the cloud usage are the best strategies for lessening the overall cloud service abuse.
Pirating of Accounts
The continued expansion and implementation of the cloud in many business entities has created entirely new methods of account pirating. Malicious people have the capability of using others log-in information to remotely access sensitive information stored on the cloud. Plus, they can manipulate and fabricate information through the pirated credentials. Other ways of pirating cloud accounts include the use of bugs and password reprocessing, which grants the attackers a smooth way of gaining access to others accounts without detection. In April 2010, for instance, Amazon discovered a cross-site scripting bug that was also monitoring customer credentials.
Denial of Service Attacks
Denial of service attacks is sometimes confused with cyberattacks. Whereas cyberattacks are targeted at creating lasting captures of sensitive information, the denial of service attacks are attempts to make the cloud server unavailable to its rightful owners. Hence, denial of service attacks is graded as a malicious activity because it reduces the security of cloud applications such as web and server firewalls.
Cloud computing services are day-after-day faced with data breaches in all forms. With sensitive data stored on the cloud instead of on premise, the cloud is characteristically less safe and more vulnerable to attacks. IT infrastructure security reports indicate that a big percentage of organizations and businesses believe security measures to protect data on cloud services are relatively small.
Data breaches occur every now and then owing to the fact that cloud computing and related services are still new in the market. According to a study undertaken by the Ponemon Institute referred to as “Man In Cloud Attack” confirmed that business utilizing the services of the cloud are three times more likely to encounter overall data breaches.
Loss of Data
Data on the cloud can be lost as a result of natural or anthropogenic disasters, malicious attack, or a data wipeout by the service vendor. For business or users without a data back-up or recovery plan, such an occurrence can be damaging. A prime example is Amazon that permanently lost a substantial percentage of its customers data hosted on the cloud in 2011. Google equally suffered data loss when its power grid was struck by lightning. Data security is hence determined by how safe it is from any form of loss, be it through malicious attack or natural disaster.
Cloud services can be used as a route for malware injections as attackers are using this tool as a novel method to exfiltrate data from the cloud. Malware injections are scripts or codes inserted as an integral part of cloud services that act as valid applications and run as SaaS within the cloud servers. Therefore, it means an injected malware operate like the software running the servers which the attackers use to secretly observe and steal data from the cloud. For instance, it was realized attackers encode sensitive data into video files and upload them to YouTube to collect information. In cloud computing systems, this compromises the integrity of sensitive information, making it a major security concern.
Secure Data Transfer
In cloud computing service, all the data transfer is through the internet. The traffic moving between and the cloud’s network use the internet as the intermediary. Thus, making sure the data is going through a secure channel is a major security concern. Secure channel means appropriate use of authentication, encryption and Internet Protocol Security that are normally developed to secure data transfer over the internet.
Insider threats have been a huge security concern among the cloud users. It is something that may seem unlikely but that’s the easiest way for others to steal others sensitive information. Workers can use their authorized and privileged access to misuse or access organization’s cloud-based services information namely financial forms, customer accounts and other crucial data. The challenge with insider attacks is that, it’s difficult to know those who have malicious intentions. It can also happen without the notion of having malicious intent, but maybe through malware, accidents and the misuse of information. For instance, somebody who is planning to leave the organization can download all customer contacts and use them for personal business gains.
Every cloud-based service runs on the basis of shared resources, including the space on the vendor’s server and other sections of the vendor’s IT infrastructure. A close look at the recent cloud attacks reveal that they occur as a result of shared technology within cloud computing environments. The shared cloud environment therefore gives rise to lots of vulnerabilities for both the users and providers. Despite cloud vendors doing their best to provide advanced security protocols, the vulnerabilities in shared cloud environments remain high, and it includes aspects such as malware injection, insider security breaches, cyberattacks and data pirating. The bottom line is that providers and users have shared vulnerabilities, and a lacking security strategy will result in having your data compromised.
The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) advocates that cloud users should be aware of the Application Programming Interfaces (API) they are using. Regardless of the fact that APIs deliver a greater cloud experience through interface customization, 7. API’s authenticate, grant access and effect encryption on the cloud platforms. Consequently, the service delivery of API’s is directly proportionate to the security risks they pose. The vulnerability of an API is a result of the communication that normally occurs between the applications. Irrespective of the better performance provision, APIs also come with exploitable security risks.
Regulatory Actions and Abidance Violation
In the current era, there are set rules and principles that influence the operation of companies and business. The same applies in the cloud computing market where there is some form of regulatory guidelines for information storage and usage. Be it guidelines for private health information, confidential student records or industrial/government intellectual property, the mandates have it clear that their location, who access it, and how it is protected should be known. At times, cloud computing companies may violate these terms which may mean that user’s data/information may be under seizure by regulatory authorities. This can present a threat to the security of sensitive information.
Lack of Outstanding Care and Manageability
Lack of exceptional care and manageability among cloud computing users can be a threat to cloud security. When users or business lack a clear plan for its objectives, policies, and resources for the cloud, chances are that a security gap is certainly bound to arise. Otherwise stated, it’s the “people factor” of lacking the necessary knowledge and resources for managing the cloud as end users.
When an organization or client adopts cloud services without the proper preparations and planning, the services and applications will most likely not match customer’s expectation. Such scenarios have been witnessed especially for clients who choose cloud services to manage private health information or financial data for their customers. With the advent of cloud computing regulatory laws, it can be problematic for such companies to manage their customer’s data.
Are you aware of any other cloud security concern that we should mention here. Please give your honest views in the comments section below.