Cloud Security

Cloud Security Risks: A Comprehensive Guide 101

In the present age, as businesses strive to adapt to emerging business models and market fluctuations swiftly, utilizing cloud technology allows them to keep up with the pace of change and avoid the threat of obsolescence. Nevertheless, similar to contemporary innovations, the cloud is exceptionally vulnerable to security hazards, encompassing phishing, stolen credentials, ransomware, and […]

Mahendra D.

Written by Mahendra D.

August 9, 2023 | 7 min read

In the present age, as businesses strive to adapt to emerging business models and market fluctuations swiftly, utilizing cloud technology allows them to keep up with the pace of change and avoid the threat of obsolescence.

Nevertheless, similar to contemporary innovations, the cloud is exceptionally vulnerable to security hazards, encompassing phishing, stolen credentials, ransomware, and account compromise. These factors present numerous cloud security risks that could result in data breaches and service interruptions within cloud systems. This article will examine the Top 10 Cloud Security Risks and how to avert them. 

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Cloud Security?
  2. Top 10 Cloud Security Risks
    1. #1 Data Security Vulnerabilities
    2. #2 Compliance Challenges
    3. #3 Inadequate Multi-Cloud Management Strategy
    4. #4 Non-Authenticated API Access 
    5. #5 Shortage of Cybersecurity Experts
    6. #6 Tenant’s Separation Control Issues
    7. #7 Human Error
    8. #8 Misconfiguration
    9. #9 Data Breaches
    10. #10 Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
  3. How to Mitigate Cloud Security Risks?
  4. How Does PingSafe Help in Solving Cloud Security Risks?
  5. Conclusion

What is Cloud Security?

Cloud security encompasses a series of protocols and technological measures designed to address internal and external threats to business safety. Cloud security becomes paramount as organizations embark on digital transformation initiatives and incorporate cloud-based tools and services into their infrastructure.

“Digital Transformation” and “Cloud Migration” have recently gained significant prominence in corporate environments. Although their definitions may vary among organizations, they share a common goal: driving change.

As businesses adopt these concepts and seek to optimize their operational approaches, they encounter new challenges in balancing productivity with security concerns. While modern technologies enable organizations to expand beyond traditional on-premise infrastructures, transitioning primarily to cloud-based environments must carefully consider security implications.

Achieving the ideal equilibrium involves comprehending how contemporary enterprises can harness interconnected cloud technologies while implementing the most effective cloud security practices.

Top 10 Cloud Security Risks

Complete risk elimination is not possible; instead, risk management becomes essential. Knowing common Cloud Security Risks in advance allows you to prepare and address them effectively within your operational environment.

#1 Data Security Vulnerabilities

The pivotal concern in cloud security risks revolves around determining who can access your company’s data and the extent of that access. Unfortunately, many companies overlook the aspect of access management, leaving them vulnerable to hackers who exploit easily accessible weak points.

With multiple users and various cloud environments to oversee, ensuring no gaps becomes challenging, particularly for large organizations that rely on on-demand services alongside their systems and tools. Simply, data that remains unencrypted, shared extensively across multiple cloud platforms and lacks proper monitoring is not secure.

#2 Compliance Challenges

Although most cloud providers maintain compliance and provide certificates for industry-wide data management standards, internal standard compliance must not be overlooked.

Viewing compliance as an organization-wide issue is crucial, and regular assessments or involvement of third-party bodies can evaluate compliance levels for all resources, both internal and external.

#3 Inadequate Multi-Cloud Management Strategy

Effectively managing multiple cloud solutions simultaneously is no easy task. Large global organizations that utilize a combination of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure in their projects must establish a well-defined procedure to manage such complexity effectively.

#4 Non-Authenticated API Access 

Although using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) can streamline data synchronization and automate processes, it can also expose businesses to cyber-attacks. By implementing a web application security system and robust authorization protocols, the data can be effectively safeguarded, and cloud security risks can be prevented.

#5 Shortage of Cybersecurity Experts

The scarcity of cybersecurity professionals is a global challenge. With 3.12 million unfilled cybersecurity roles worldwide, investing in internal educational programs and upskilling initiatives is vital to equip employees with the necessary expertise to protect company data effectively.

#6 Tenant’s Separation Control Issues

While the risk of a breach due to tenants’ separation control issues is relatively low, it remains a potential threat, especially for medium-sized and large organizations. Failure to maintain proper separation between multiple tenants can create vulnerabilities easily exploitable by hackers. Vigilance in addressing such cloud security risks is essential to ensure security.

#7 Human Error

Human error poses constant cloud security risks during the development of business applications, and these risks are amplified when utilizing the public cloud.

The user-friendly nature of the cloud can lead to the use of APIs without proper controls, potentially creating vulnerabilities in the system. Managing human error involves establishing robust controls to guide users toward making the right decisions.

A crucial guideline is not to blame individuals for errors but to focus on improving processes. Constructing effective processes and safeguards will support users in making secure choices rather than finger-pointing, which doesn’t enhance overall security.

#8 Misconfiguration

As cloud service providers expand their offerings, cloud settings become increasingly complex. Many organizations use multiple providers, each with unique default configurations and implementation nuances. Until companies become adept at securing their diverse cloud services, cloud security risks like misconfigurations will remain exploitable by adversaries.

#9 Data Breaches

Data breaches happen when unauthorized individuals access sensitive information without authorization or knowledge. Since data is highly valuable to attackers, it becomes a prime target for most attacks. Cloud misconfiguration and insufficient runtime protection can leave data vulnerable to theft, leading to cloud security risks.

The consequences of data breaches differ depending on the type of compromised data. Personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) are often sold on the dark web and exploited for identity theft or phishing scams.

Other sensitive information, like internal documents or emails, could be exploited to tarnish a company’s reputation or manipulate its stock price. Irrespective of the motivation behind data theft, data breaches pose a significant threat to cloud-using businesses.

#10 Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) refer to highly sophisticated and prolonged cyberattacks during which an intruder infiltrates a network without being detected to extract valuable data over an extended period.

In APTs, the attacker creates a persistent presence within the network and moves through various workloads to find and steal sensitive data, which is sold to the highest bidder. APTs are dangerous cloud security risks because they can start with a zero-day exploit and go months without being discovered, allowing the attacker to work secretly and cause significant harm.

How to Mitigate Cloud Security Risks?

  • User access restrictions for cloud security: Clearance levels should be implemented first if several people can access a company’s cloud storage. Giving all workers of a specific rank a single password that gives them access to the required data is one approach to achieving this. However, if someone wants to be even more careful, they can provide each employee with a unique identity and a secret password. That would make it possible to identify potential cloud security risks and weak points in the organization’s defenses.
  • Configure multifactor authentication: The majority of cloud computing systems that demand a password will evaluate the user’s code’s complexity as they log in. Uppercase, lowercase, numerals, and occasionally even symbols must all be present in a password. However, two-step authentication can also be used to make enterprise accounts much more difficult to get into. Customers will typically get a time-sensitive code sent to their phones or email addresses as an additional security measure. A USB drive that must be placed into the computer when a user tries to log in may be used to substitute that with a physical key. These are only two illustrations of how a safer log-in procedure may appear.
  • Routinely backup business data: The best defense against setup problems and malware that could jeopardize or destroy cloud data is to back it up. Several businesses and people have felt the severe cloud security risks of losing their projects due to neglect.
  • Employ cybersecurity specialists: Most businesses hire information technology (IT) specialists for computer setup and maintenance. It might be sufficient to keep tech malware-free on its own. Nevertheless, whether someone hires an IT team internally or contracts out the work, they may want to confirm that the folks they’re working with have all the necessary cloud computing certifications to keep the data secure.
  • Employee Training Workshops: Organize sessions for staff members to learn about cloud security. Most prosperous businesses know that staff training is the best way to inform everyone about company policies. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that most employees might benefit from learning more about cloud security. Above all, they must be able to operate on a company’s platform. If employees take the time to become familiar with the system they’ll be working in; many blunders can be avoided. Employees can learn about the risks involved with cloud computing during training, and the safety measures the organization has placed in place. Employees will therefore be aware of how to prevent viruses, configuration mistakes, and account takeover.
  • Boost network capacity to stop DDoS attacks: Attacks that cause a distributed denial of service (DDoS) are still the most frequent risk related to cloud computing. Someone might attempt to restrict access to a company’s cloud computing platform at some point by flooding it with requests for connections from phony accounts. That can essentially bar employees of a corporation from obtaining the data they require for their jobs. The solution is simple. The company’s network capacity simply needs to be increased in order for it to handle the surge of requests. Of course, that could not be achievable depending on the severity of the attack. Considering this, having a backup internet connection might be advantageous for organizations. That would enable consumers to access the cloud using various IP addresses if everything else fails.

How Does PingSafe Help in Solving Cloud Security Risks?

PingSafe is a full-featured cloud security technology that can assist you in securing your cloud in a number of ways, including:

  • Cloud Misconfigurations: Misconfigurations are automatically fixed. Misconfigurations across resources, lateral movement pathways, and impact radius are visualized using graphs.
  • Security flaws and best practices are highlighted through constant monitoring of the security posture of new and current cloud services.
  • Building as a Code: Check IaC deployment and configuration against CIS benchmark, PCI-DSS, and other standards. To prevent merge and pull requests with hardcoded secrets, CI/CD integration support is available.
  • Identify cloud resources/assets with known CVEs (Intelligence acquired from 10+ sources with thorough coverage) for vulnerability management. It offers an evaluation of Zero Day Vulnerabilities. 
  • Threat Watch: A dashboard for monitoring your environment’s zero-day vulnerabilities and associated problems.
  • Agentless software bill of materials (SBOM) reporting and VM snapshot scanning for security flaws.
  • The offensive security engine simulates zero-day threats safely to provide more comprehensive security coverage. This enables enterprises to rely less on outside security analysts and bug bounty hunters.
  • Private Repository Scanning for Secrets: Find and fix more than 700 distinct kinds of credentials in the private repository of your organization. It offers round-the-clock monitoring of each developer’s private repository to spot organizationally essential data leaks.

Conclusion

Although there are some inherent Cloud Security Risks with cloud infrastructure, not all applications have poor security. If you’ve chosen the services of a reputable CSP and are adhering to all security precautions, there’s no reason to be concerned. Remember that the cloud is a more secure alternative if your IT crew is inexperienced, understaffed, or nonexistent.       

Consider the Cloud Security Risks we’ve described while using cloud resources, and utilize our recommended security methods to safeguard your data beyond what your cloud vendor has guaranteed. Consider purchasing software tools as well to support your security efforts.