Cloud computing is evolving at lightning speed, with cloud adoption rates soaring worldwide. More and more businesses are leveraging the power of cloud services to meet their business needs. Reports suggest that the public cloud market is expected to swell to a whopping $800 billion by 2025. That is a staggering figure, and by the looks of it, the eventual result might even outshine the forecast.
But despite all the growth we see in cloud-based services, many users’ primary concern remains security. You must ensure that your data in the cloud environment is safe and secure. As technology continues to evolve, so are hacking and cybersecurity threats evolving.
This article gives you a comprehensive overview of the security risks to your cloud environment and how you can counter them by implementing cloud security best practices.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Security Risks of Cloud Computing
It is imperative that you first understand the risks associated with using cloud-based services before delving into security best practices you can use to secure your cloud infrastructure and services.
When you store your vital enterprise data in the cloud, it goes through essential security mechanisms like authentication, authorization, and identification. However, these steps don’t eliminate cyber threats, especially when you’re migrating data from legacy systems to cloud environments.
Here are some of the leading threats and risks you might encounter while using cloud-based services.
Misconfiguration is the topmost security risk for companies as it can cause data leaks in your cloud system. It happens due to inadequate awareness of security protocols and poor supervision and control.
For example, outsiders can enter your cloud network if access to your cloud system is shared and easily accessible. As a result, hackers can steal your critical business data and then sell it for nefarious purposes.
Sometimes, internal users with access to your cloud environment can become a security threat inadvertently. The reason is that these resources with access to sensitive data are not properly trained in cloud security best practices, thus compromising the system’s integrity.
So, how do you identify insider threats? By monitoring the traffic in your cloud-managed services and looking for access anomalies, e.g., after-office hours access by a resource or somebody transferring vast amounts of data.
Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks
DoS attacks target application servers by flooding them with traffic or sending certain information that causes a crash. The aim is to overwhelm the system to such an extent that it shuts down and becomes inaccessible to its users.
Cloud services use servers, thus putting them at risk of DoS attacks. Although you don’t lose your data in a DoS attack, it’ll take you a lot of effort, money, and time to recover from it.
You can lose data despite having a robust cloud system. Here are some possible reasons why data loss can occur while having a well-secured cloud system.
- User errors – these can take place when a user incorrectly deletes data or opens a suspicious email carrying a virus.
- Malicious behaviors – a user can intentionally destroy or corrupt your cloud data.
- Overwriting data – in a SaaS-based model, software updates large data sets automatically and continuously. As a result, some users might overwrite new data using old data, leading to partly overwritten data sets.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are utilized to monitor and control access to cloud environments. Even though cloud-service providers are always working to enhance their APIs, the risk of cyber threats may still increase because many users employ certain frameworks for improving cloud security.
Here’s an example to help you understand how insecure APIs are a cloud security threat. If you give access to your cloud environment to your customers, employees, and partners using APIs, it will make your system vulnerable to unauthorized access as people will use the same APIs to access your cloud business systems.
A data breach takes place when unauthorized people gain access to your company’s data. It is a cybercrime that seriously impacts your business and your customers. Data breaches mostly happen due to lax security measures, malware, system vulnerabilities, weak credentials, etc. It can also occur when a user intentionally steals your data.
Let’s look at how you can deal with these risks and threats.
Cloud Security Best Practices
1. Understanding the Risks and Threats
The first and foremost step for ensuring a secure cloud environment is to understand the risks involved, the responsibilities of cloud users, and the role of your cloud service provider in keeping it secure.
Ideally, you should chalk out the responsibilities of your in-house cloud security team and the areas your service provider will cover. Moreover, you need to know all the security protocols your cloud service provider follows, such as backup protocol, two-factor authentication, etc. Therefore, it is critical to choose the right service provider, a reliable company that follows cloud security best practices.
Your employees play a crucial role in helping you develop a robust cloud environment, as they are the ones who access it. You must ensure adequate employee training so that everyone in your organization, especially cloud users, can identify cyber threats. If you don’t properly train them, it will become much easier for hackers to enter your system and steal your data.
You should also put in place security practices for websites so that you can beef up security.
3. Data Encryption
Whenever you transfer data between cloud environments or on-premises and cloud systems, there’s always a risk of exposing it. You should encrypt your data to protect it from unauthorized access during transfer.
Encryption methods use keys to turn readable data into unreadable information. Users require matched decryption keys to decrypt the data. There are two types of encryption keys: symmetric and asymmetric. The former uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt data, while the latter uses two different keys, a public key, and a private key.
Check with your cloud service provider about their encryption methods and whether they offer end-to-end encryption. However, the best way to ensure maximum data security is to create and use your own encryption key before transferring data.
4. Use a Monitoring System
It is imperative that you establish a monitoring system to track your cloud infrastructure’s performance and traffic for odd activity. You can also utilize cloud monitoring tools to track vast data sets, monitor reporting capabilities, and ensure compliance. They are easy to install and configure.
Edge and Cloud computing is not the future of this digital world; it is present. It has come of age, as evidenced by the rise in cloud computing users. However, it is equally important that you gain a proper understanding of the security risks and threats involved in cloud-based services.
We hope this article empowers you to secure your cloud environment. If you need any further assistance related to cloud services, contact us at [email protected].