Top 10 Security Threats for Cloud-Based Services

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Cloud adoption is ever-increasing, and the COVID-19 pandemic is yet another catalyst in its uptake. Now more than ever, businesses are embracing the cloud for its cost efficiency, flexibility, scalability, and more. They are also quickly reaping the benefits of being able to add new components and capabilities to their environments within a matter of minutes.

Despite these perks, there is simply no shying away from cloud's inherent security issues. Although it's becoming safer by the year, a number of threats still linger that businesses should prepare for. Here are the top 10 security threats to cloud-based services businesses must be prepared for.

Data Breaches

Data breaches are a common security issue that has worried business leaders for years. When you’re storing private information on the cloud, it’s easy to wonder whether your data is truly safe.

However, securing the cloud is not impossible. Solutions such as Imperva allow business leaders to build the ideal security system from web application firewalls, discovery, and assessment tools, risk analytics, and even attack analytics. The better your view of your data, the easier it is to protect it.

Malware Injections

Malware injections are small segments of code or script placed into cloud services. These can easily infect your cloud services and mimic the appearance of other services that you have in the cloud. To protect yourself from malware issues, you need to invest in the right software.

Tools like Malwarebytes offer business leaders a first line of defence against online attacks that may threaten their systems, files, and business performance. Malwarebytes removes malware and spyware, block attacks, and shields your network from malicious sites.

Insider Threats

According to IS Decisions' Insider Threat Manifesto, 42% of IT professionals believe that ignorant users are a threat to their organisation. Insider threats don’t refer exclusively to people trying to break into your sensitive data or destroy your systems; sometimes, employees that just don’t know how to protect themselves can be a big issue too. 

To mitigate the risk, you should endeavour to set up policies and best practices for security. For instance, you might have a third-party access policy that dictates what kind of applications your employees can use. You can also use mobile device management services to track the apps your employees use on your network from a distance. 

Furthermore, businesses can use solutions like Flowmon, which can identify various anomalies and recognise them as indicators of compromise, before providing the administrator with immediate insight.

Account Hijacking

Employees can make your business less secure through poor password and username combinations. Worryingly, attackers are becoming increasingly adept at tracking down passwords and stealing credentials. This is particularly true in environments where employees can work remotely.

In a remote environment, an employee might use shared devices or log into public WiFi to access business information. When this happens, criminals can spy on your team member's information. To mitigate the risk, businesses need two-factor authentication strategies that don’t rely exclusively on passwords. LastPass for business is a popular choice for password management, single sign-on, and multi-factor authentication. 

Insecure APIs

APIs are particularly popular in the cloud landscape. These tools give business leaders the potential to customise their cloud experiences. You can also use APIs to add to your cloud productivity tools, such as implementing video conferencing and calling technology or analytics and data management too.

However, APIs can be a threat to cloud security if poorly authenticated. Thus, you must exercise due diligence if you're expanding the potential of your cloud environment with new APIs. In particular, you must look into the developer's documentation and ensure your API doesn't have access to more information than it needs.

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks disrupt online services by overwhelming them with traffic. In turn, your websites and services become unavailable to legitimate team members in your company.

However, the aim behind DDoS attacks may not just be to cause temporary disruption. Instead, bad actors could be using them as a smokescreen to draw your attention away from other malicious activities. 

The best way to protect yourself is to invest in software that can detect potential DDoS attacks wherever they happen. Tools such as Cloudflare are excellent for reducing your disk of denied service.

Data Ownership and Accountability

One of the biggest benefits of cloud is that it allows businesses to store crucial information and use that data to make critical decisions. The more information you can store in the cloud, the easier it will be to feed data into things like machine learning tools and predictive analysis applications. However, while collecting and managing data, you also need to ensure that you’re compliant with regional regulations such as GDPR. 

When choosing a vendor for your cloud solutions, consider where your data is going to be stored, how you can access it, and what you can do to protect yourself. You’ll also need strategies in place for auditing and eliminating unnecessary data over time too.

Misconfiguration and Change Control Issues

Misconfiguration in the cloud environment happens when computing assets have implementation issues. Although cloud is quicker for provisioning new tools and services, cloud-based resources can often be complex for beginners.

If you need help making sure that you have configured your services correctly, you can take advantage of the consulting services and support your vendor offers. For instance, IBM offers a host of security services and consulting solutions to help companies take the right first steps into the cloud.

Limited Cloud Visibility

Ask any expert in the cloud environment, and they’ll tell you that you can’t secure what you can’t see. Limited cloud usage visibility happens when you don’t have the systems in place to determine how your users are accessing cloud services. This absence of visibility can also lead to other security issues caused by a lack of governance and awareness. 

Tools like CloudLens from Ixia provide growing businesses with a complete environment where they can watch over their essential cloud assets. With it, you can track what’s happening in hybrid, public, and private clouds, and secure some of your most vulnerable environments. 

Lacking Incident Analysis

Analysing the situation is the only way to effectively grow and learn from security incidents. If a data breach or malware attack occurs, IT teams and business leaders must identify where the source of the problem is. In turn, it'll be easier to put strategies in place for protection against further issues.

Companies must speak with their cloud vendors about how they handle, evaluate, and analyse event logs. They should also be asking questions such as "can we use virtual machine imaging and report creation to help analyse potential security incidents?" or "do we need to invest in a separate tool for tracking potential errors in our environment?" Some incident analysis and cloud monitoring services come with real-time alerts that may even help you stop an attack instantly.