What are the Top Cloud Computing Security Challenges?

What are the Top Cloud Computing Security Challenges?
What are the Top Cloud Computing Security Challenges?

Cloud computing gets its name because it involves accessing information remotely, often called the "cloud" or a virtual space.

It eliminates the need for intensive data processing on individual devices and transfers the workload to large computer clusters in cyberspace.

Essentially, the internet itself becomes the cloud, enabling users to access their data, work, and applications from any internet-connected device worldwide.

Cloud computing offers numerous advantages in speed, efficiency, and innovation. However, it also brings certain risks concerning security, especially when dealing with sensitive data such as medical records and financial information.

What is Cloud Computing?

To put it in simple words, cloud computing refers to the provision of IT resources over the internet as per the user's requirement. The pricing model under cloud computing follows a pay-as-you-go approach. It allows users to access many services, such as computing power, storage, and databases.

Instead of purchasing and maintaining physical data centres and servers, users can access these resources from a cloud provider as and when needed.

Cloud-based storage enables users to save their data to a remote database rather than storing files on a local device or proprietary hard drive. As long as an electronic device has internet access, it can retrieve the data and run the associated software programs.

Top 10 Cloud Security Challenges in Cloud Computing

Security Misconfigurations

Security misconfigurations are responsible for a significant portion, approximately 65% to 70%, of all cloud security issues. When assets are not set up correctly, they become susceptible to attacks.

Several factors contribute to this problem. Cloud infrastructure is designed to be user-friendly and facilitate easy business data exchange. However, ensuring that data is only accessible to authorised individuals becomes a concern.

Therefore, organisations that adopt cloud-based infrastructure must meet the security standards delivered by the provider to form and secure their cloud setups.

Insecure Access Control Points/Unauthorised Access

One of the critical advantages of cloud networks is their accessibility from anywhere, enabling teams and customers to connect regardless of location.

Unfortunately, specific technologies, such as application programming interfaces (APIs), can be prone to attacks if cloud security is not configured and optimised correctly. These vulnerabilities create entry points for hackers.

It allows unauthorised access to a company's cloud resources, making it easier for attackers. If security configurations are not set up correctly, or credentials are compromised, attackers can potentially gain direct access to the resources without the organisation's awareness.

DDoS and Denial-of-Service Attacks

As the migration of businesses and operations to the cloud continues to increase, cloud providers have become prime targets for malicious attacks. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks have become more prevalent.

A DDoS attack aims to overwhelm website servers, rendering them unable to respond to legitimate user requests. If a DDoS attack succeeds, it can render a website useless for hours or even days, resulting in financial losses, erosion of customer trust, and damage to brand reputation.

Incorporating DDoS protection into cloud services is no longer just a good practice for enterprises; it has become necessary. Websites and web-based applications are vital to modern businesses and require cutting-edge cybersecurity measures.

Data Loss

79% of firms experienced at least one or two cloud data breaches. Data loss is a significant concern in cloud computing. It often takes the form of a data leak, where insiders such as employees and business partners have access to sensitive information.

If the security of a cloud service is compromised, hackers can potentially gain access to private or sensitive data. When enterprises utilise cloud computing, they must relinquish some control to the cloud service provider (CSP).

Someone outside of their IT department may be responsible for safeguarding critical company data. If the cloud service provider undergoes a breach or attack, the company can suffer data and intellectual property losses and be liable for damages.

Data loss can occur due to many factors, such as data being lost or damaged, hardware issues, loss of access, and malware attacks for which the cloud service provider (CSP) is unprepared.

Malicious Insiders

Insider threats pose a significant security concern for organisations. A malicious insider already possesses authorised access to an organisation's network and certain sensitive resources.

Acquiring this level of access exposes attackers to their targets, making it challenging for unprepared organisations to detect malicious insiders.

Detecting a malicious insider becomes even more difficult in cloud environments. Companies have limited control over the underlying infrastructure in cloud deployments, rendering many traditional security solutions less effective.

Additionally, cloud-based infrastructure is directly accessible from the public internet and frequently suffers from security misconfigurations, further complicating the detection of malicious insiders.

Account Hijacking

Cloud account hijacking refers to compromising a critical cloud account for operating, administering, or maintaining a cloud environment. These accounts possess high privileges and sensitivity, which can lead to severe consequences if breached.

Account compromise can occur through various means, including phishing, credential stuffing, weak or stolen credentials, and improper coding. Such compromises can result in data breaches and service disruptions.

Lack of Visibility

Company resources in the cloud are outside the corporate network and operate on an infrastructure the company does not own.

Moreover, traditional network visibility tools often prove ineffective in cloud environments, and some organisations lack security tools specifically designed for the cloud.

This limitation can hinder an organisation's monitoring and safeguarding of its cloud resources against attacks. The issue of limited visibility has long been a concern for enterprise administrators. It presents two main challenges:

  • Unauthorised app use, also known as shadow IT, occurs when employees utilise applications that the IT department does not authorise.
  • Sanctioned app misuse refers to the improper use of IT-approved applications involving authorised users and unauthorised individuals who gain access through stolen credentials obtained via techniques like SQL injection or DNS attacks.

This restricted visibility also leads to a lack of governance, awareness, and security, which can result in cyber attacks, data loss, and breaches.

External Sharing of Data

The cloud is designed to simplify data sharing, offering options such as explicitly inviting collaborators via email or sharing a link that grants secure access to the shared resource for anyone with the URL.

While this convenient data-sharing feature is advantageous, it poses a significant cloud security risk. Link-based sharing, a popular option for its simplicity compared to individually inviting each collaborator, makes controlling access to the shared resource challenging.

The shared link can be forwarded to unauthorised individuals, stolen during a cyberattack, or guessed by cybercriminals, allowing unauthorised access to the shared resource.

Also, link-based sharing makes it impossible to revoke access for a specific recipient of the shared link while maintaining access for others.

Conclusion: How to Secure Cloud Infrastructure via Multi-Factor Authentication?

Hackers employ various techniques to infiltrate your online business data and applications, but one prevalent method is using stolen credentials.

Also, relying solely on the traditional username and password combination is often insufficient to safeguard user accounts against cyber attacks.

Once hackers acquire your login details, they gain unrestricted access to all the essential cloud-based applications and services crucial for your business operations.

Protecting all of your cloud users with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is imperative to ensure that only authorised personnel can log in to your cloud apps and access sensitive data in both on-premise and off-premise environments.

InstaSafe MFA is an affordable yet highly effective security measure that is a barrier against potential hackers trying to gain unauthorised access to your cloud applications.

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